BUFFALO, N.Y. — None of the last 14 meetings between Fredonia and Buffalo State have been decided by more than two goals. That pattern continued at the Buffalo State Ice Arena on Friday. Another pattern is Fredonia winning the majority of those games, losing only once. That streak too was not interrupted as the Blue Devils came out on top, 4-2.
“Our guys put together a pretty solid 60 minutes,” Fredonia coach Jeff Meredith said. “I was especially impressed with our third period especially after the mental letdown killing that penalty off and then giving up the goal before we could get the guys back out there. Then to come back and score the next goal.”
That sequence of events started late in the second period when two simultaneous penalties against Fredonia gave Buffalo State a two man advantage for a full two minutes which carried over into the third period.
Though Fredonia killed off the penalties the Bengals scored seconds later at 1:04. Before the Fredonia players could skate back into their own zone, Buffalo State took advantage of the manpower advantage. Joel Sheppard from behind the net fed Nick Petriello just off the left post. Petriello one-timed to cut the lead to 3-2.
Just over three minutes later Fredonia got their two goal lead back. Buffalo State’s Tyler Shoehner, skating through center ice, lost control of the puck as Mat Hehr stripped him. Hehr headed back in the other direction into the Bengals’ zone down the right side with one defender back. Hehr skated around the defender and cut across the goalmouth, shooting the puck past Alan Fritch.
“Hehr’s pretty strong,” Meredith said. “That guy leaned on Hehr, and Hehr just kept his feet going and got by him.”
That final goal was the only one that did not occur due to penalties, even if they all didn’t show up in the boxscore as power-play goals as some were scored on a delayed call or before teams could get their players from the penalty box back into the play.
“Our lack of keeping out of the penalty box made it difficult for us,” Buffalo State coach Nick Carriere said. Buffalo committed seven minors while Fredonia got whistled for five.
Buffalo State scored first at 2:39 of the first period on their first power play. Shareef Labreche from the middle of the blueline took a snapshot that stayed on the ice right up the middle. The puck seemed to have eyes as it found its way through all the bodies, through the goaltender’s five-hole, and into the back of the net.
Fredonia quickly tied the game on their first power play opportunity a couple of minutes later. James Muscatello from the left slot area received a cross-ice pass from Bryan Ross at the right point. Muscatello flipped a shot into the opposite upper corner over Fritch’s shoulder.
The go ahead goal for the first period occurred due to a tired Buffalo State penalty killing unit. The Bengals had to kill off two successive penalties which overlapped slightly. Before the second one expired, another penalty was called on a delayed basis. Fredonia pulled their goalie. Even though the Bengals’ former penalty expired, Fredonia still had the virtual power play with six skaters to five. More importantly, Buffalo State’s defenders were getting winded.
The Blue Devils moved the puck well to open up space. The rebound on a shot from Jeff Aonso on the right side came out to the left high slot area. Chris Jung raced down the left side and easily deposited into the unguarded portion of the net as Fritch could not move over quick enough.
Fredonia grabbed a 3-1 lead on a fancy shorthanded goal at 8:03 of the second period. The Blue Devils broke out on a two-on-one, but Buffalo State’s defense got back in time to nullify it. However, they left Steve Rizer unchallenged with the puck. Rizer put on a puck handling clinic maneuvering himself in front of the net still unchallenged. Now one-on-one with the goalie, a few more fakes followed by placing the puck past Fritch stick side.
“You never want to give up one of those,” Carriere said. “It’s us not taking care of the puck at essential times.”
The teams traded those two goals early in the third period setting up Buffalo State pulling their goaltender quite early with nearly two minutes left. Despite some pressure the Bengals could not decrease the deficit nor could Fredonia with some good chances score on the empty net.
After Fredonia let up seven goals in each of their last two games, Pat Street came up strong with 23 saves.
“It was good to see,” Meredith said. “He had a tough weekend last weekend. For three years, Pat’s been pretty rock solid. To be able to have him play the game he played tonight, I’m happy for him. It means he’s back.”
Buffalo State (1-2 overall, 1-3-1 in SUNYAC) returns to action next week when they travel to Brockport and Geneseo for conference action.
Fredonia (1-2, 3-2) travels to Elmira Saturday night for a nonconference contest.