FREDONIA, N.Y. — A Fredonia game usually consists of a low scoring, defensive struggle. Not tonight.
The Blue Devils and Potsdam played a wild back-and-forth shootout. Goals came fast, furious, and in bunches. No lead was safe, as both teams held two-goal margins. When the ice chips finally settled, Fredonia defeated Potsdam, 6-5, thanks to a Billy Sanborn goal with 4:33 left in regulation.
“I’m worn out,” Fredonia coach Jeff Meredith said. “I really am. But I’m really impressed with our character. We had a few times that were really tough for us, and we found a way to get through it.”
The action started right at the drop of the opening faceoff.
After Potsdam shot wide on a point-blank shot seconds into the game, Fredonia came right back to get the first goal at the 38 second mark. Alex Morton’s shot from the blue line was redirected by James Muscatello, easily beating Trevor O’Neill.
Two minutes later Fredonia took a 2-0 lead. Morton stuffed one in on a goalmouth scramble after Will McLaughlin’s shot was stopped.
Potsdam got into the picture, cutting the lead in half four minutes into the game. Fraser Smith fired it on net when he had no one to pass to and it fooled Pat Street.
Exactly three minutes later, the red light once again got exercised during the first power play of the game. After some nice passing, Mat Hehr was able to find room and time to blast one past O’Neill to extend Fredonia’s lead to 3-1.
However, the two-goal lead didn’t last long. All of 16 seconds. Potsdam stormed into the Fredonia zone off the ensuing faceoff with Todd Hosmer doing the honors.
After five goals in the first 7:17 of the game, the rest of the period settled down, with no further scoring.
Once again, the beginning of a period saw a flurry of goals. First, Potsdam got two quick power-play goals to take their first lead of the game, 4-3.
Connor Treacy got the first while the Bears were up by two men, tying the game at three at the 3:33 mark. Treacy from the high slot area one-timed a rocket after receiving a perfect pass from Hosmer from the right side.
On the second of two simultaneous penalties, Potsdam took the lead. This time Colin MacClennan was the recipient of Hosmer’s pass and converted.
Potsdam then took their first two-goal lead of the game, 5-3, on a fancy play. Kevin MacLellan, while laying on his back, shot towards the net. The rebound was put in by Bryan Black.
At this point, Fredonia called time out and replaced Street with Kody Van Rentergem.
It didn’t take long for Fredonia to cut that lead down to one, 5-4, doing so less than two minutes later. Jeff Aonso scored on a quick rush assisted by Muscatello.
“Our theme all week long was take back Steele Hall,” Meredith said.
When Fredonia won the 2007 SUNYAC championship they had a 29-1-3 record in 33 games
“Over the last year, Steele Hall became a soft place to play. After the second period, we were down a goal. We didn’t even talk hockey. I said, ‘Look, at some point you have to put your foot down and you’ve got to make a statement.’ To our guys credit, they did. On the first shift, they got a goal, and they just kept battling and battling.”
Once again, a quick goal to start a period, this time at 19 seconds, pulled Fredonia even with Potsdam, 5-5. Muscatello got his second of the night on the lightning strike.
The teams each took two penalties, but neither could take advantage. Sy Nutkevitch nearly put the Bears ahead with six minutes to go on a clean breakaway. He had plenty of time to make his move, but Street held his ground, and Nutkevitch shot it wide.
Shortly thereafter, Fredonia scored the go-ahead goal with 4:33 left in regulation. Billy Sanborn banged home a rebound from close range.
“We feel the more the game goes on, the more leg we have,” Meredith said. “I think it shows in the third period. We lost just one third period in nine games.”
Potsdam pulled their goaltender in the final seconds, and ironically after all the scoring in the game, Fredonia missed a clean empty net opportunity from center ice as the puck glanced off the post. It almost cost them, as Potsdam put on a flurry in front of the Blue Devils’ net, but to no avail.
Van Rentergem got the win, making 20 saves after Street made 16 saves. O’Neill stopped 29 shots in the loss.
Potsdam (2-4-0, 2-4-0) plays at Buffalo State Saturday night.
Fredonia (6-3-0, 4-3-0) stays home to take on Plattsburgh.