BUFFALO, N.Y. — In a battle between two teams struggling for conference wins, both desperately needing one, Potsdam defeated Buffalo State, 4-2, in Buffalo.
“A more team effort tonight, top to bottom,” Potsdam coach Chris Bernard said. “The best part for us at the end of the night was trying to pick our best player, because we played a solid team game.”
After losing the night before, 7-0 to Plattsburgh, Buffalo State went with freshman goaltender Mike Mesaros from nearby Niagara Falls, Ontario, making his first collegiate start. He ended up with 26 saves.
“After evaluating last night’s game and looking at the goals that went in, we thought that Alan Fritch needed a shake up, and Mike was the better goaltender,” Buffalo State coach Nick Carriere said. “Practice doesn’t always mean everything, so we needed to see him in a game situation. I thought he played well.”
It was Potsdam’s Trevor O’Neill that got the win with 20 saves.
“The phrase we use with Trevor O’Neill this year is ‘On time,’” Bernard said. “You’ve been on time. You’ve come up with the right save at the right time. He did it again tonight.”
Potsdam got an early goal at 2:48 for the initial lead. Zack Juliano provided a crossing pass to Mike Foy in the right slot area. Foy put a backhander past Mesaros, who couldn’t move across in time.
“We had some lapses of focus, especially after the first goal off the face off,” Carriere said.
Connor Treacy gave the Bears a 2-0 lead at 13:28 on a fancy goal. Standing at the doorstep, Treacy was fed by Todd Hosmer from the right side. With his back to the net, Treacy redirected the pass into the goal.
Potsdam had an opportunity to take control of the game on their third power play of the period. However, it was Buffalo State who grabbed some life of their own, scoring a short-handed goal on a perfectly executed two-on-one. Connor King raced into the zone down the left side. He fed Mike Luzarraga on the right side. Luzarraga one-timed a blast over O’Neill’s glove on the near side.
“Nice play, nice finish,” Carriere said. “But I knew it was going to be a long drawn out battle and that there was a lot of hockey left. It was nice to get that, but we had some opportunities five-on-five that we didn’t bury.”
Did Bernard see flashbacks to last night’s game when Potsdam blew a two-goal lead?
“Not at all,” he said. “I just told our team early on we are either going to learn the hard way or the easy way. I told them ‘Stay the course. Be more professional in the detail to our approach,’ and it worked out tonight.”
Each team had three penalties in the opening period in a tightly called game. The last penalty carried over into the second, and Buffalo State took advantage of the power play, tying the game 15 seconds into the second, 2-2. Justin Knee from behind the net fed Ryan Ramage in the slot, who quickly one-timed it past O’Neill.
Potsdam retook the lead at 3:35, taking advantage of a scrambling Mesaros. MacLellan sent a crossing pass across the slot area to Hosmer on the left side. Hosmer, just out of the penalty box, easily deposited the puck into an open net as Mesaros was trying to get up.
Sy Nutkevitch gave the Bears their second two-goal lead of the night on a breakaway at 7:43. Picking up the loose puck at center ice, he entered the zone down the right side, cut across the net, and placed a backhander through the five-hole for a 4-2 lead.
This breakaway goal came a night after Nutkevitch failed on a breakaway in a crucial point of that game.
“The guys were certainly excited for him because he was really down on himself,” Bernard said. “He’s a guy who has produced in this league before with the game on his stick. They felt really good for him.”
The third period went by quietly. Offsetting penalties and late penalties by each team were all that was called. The Bengals pulled their goalie when both teams had a man in the box for a five-on-four situation, but could not get back into the game.
Both teams participate in non-conference action during the short holiday break. Potsdam (3-4-0, 3-4-0) faces Skidmore at Lake Placid on Tuesday before traveling to Utica for a pair of games, and Buffalo State (1-7-1, 1-6-0) participates in the Adrian Tournament starting the day after eating turkey.