GENESEO, N.Y. — The Potsdam at Geneseo game deteriorated into a controversial, penalty-filled third period, overshadowing an exceptional performance by Geneseo’s goaltender, Andy Rubeniuk. Rubeniuk made 37 saves, some spectacular on shots that looked like sure goals, to lead his Ice Knights to a 5-3 victory over Potsdam.
“I think the most effective player on the team tonight was Rubeniuk,” Geneseo coach Chris Schultz said. “He had some huge saves at critical points in the game. He definitely played a knockout game.”
“That kid was great the first time we played him; he was great again tonight,” Potsdam coach Chris Bernard said. “It’s a great challenge when you play goalies like that because that’s what it’s going to take to win in the playoffs. You have to find a way to beat hot goalies.”
In the first period alone, Rubeniuk robbed Potsdam twice with lightning quick reflexes.
Geneseo rewarded their goaltender by giving him the early lead with 1:45 left in the first. Jimmy Powers gave a long, quick cross ice pass from the left side to Stefan Decosse sitting next to the opposite post. Decosse waited for Andy Groulx to go down before flipping it over the prone goalie.
Potsdam scored two unanswered goals in the second period, only to have Geneseo come back to tie it before the second buzzer.
At 1:03, Matt Viola tied it at one. A defensive breakdown by Geneseo allowed Viola to skate across the crease untouched and around the goalie to easily deposit it into the open net.
Sy Nutkevitch gave the Bears their only lead of the game at 11:23 with the teams skating four aside. Patrick Choules’ shot from the left point ended up on Nutkevitch’s stick next to the post. Nutkevitch shot it into the near side which was unguarded.
Two minutes later, the Ice Knights re-tied the game on the power play on a controversial goal. Players were jamming at the puck down low as it barely trickled across the line according to the official right next to the net. Kaz Iwamoto was credited with the score. Groulx and two defenders argued strongly with the referees, but to no avail.
Special teams quickly traded goals early in the third to keep the game tied. Sebastian Panetta scored on the power play with a wide open shot from the slot at 2:49.
Less than a minute later, Colin MacLennan tied it on a short-handed score. A neutral zone turnover provided MacLennan with the break. He entered Geneseo’s zone on the right side and fired it past Rubeniuk from the faceoff circle. Rubeniuk got a piece of it in the only weak goal he allowed.
Was Schultz getting nervous after Potsdam quickly tied the game while a man short?
“No, not yet,” he said. “It’s happened to us before. We’re tied in the third period a ton this year. We’ve had a difficult time finishing the job in the third period. So, if we’re tied in the third period, we’ve been there. I don’t get nervous anymore. Fortunately, tonight we were able to capitalize on the power play and get it done.”
Then, the game fell into a steady stream of Potsdam penalties and a winning goal that never went into the net. The Bears already committed two penalties early in the period. They succumbed to five more consecutively, one of which was a major against Fraser Smith, not including the game disqualification he also received.
“I think overall we let our emotions get the best of us,” Bernard said. “It was a heated game. We were playing with a lot of heart, a lot of guts, but not necessarily a lot of intelligence.”
“It got a little out of control there,” Schultz said. “Hockey is an emotional game. You’re going to have guys who play with an extraordinary amount of emotion. I’m extremely proud of the way my guys handled the situation. We only took six penalties in the game. We’re one of the least penalized teams in the country, and we’re going to keep it that way.”
During one of those power plays at 11:06, Clint Olson took a shot on net. Groulx stopped it in front of the line next to the post to his left. The referee, who was on the other side of the goal and screened from the puck, called it a goal. Video clearly showed the puck never went in, and also showed the goal judge, who never turned the light on, talking on the cell phone.
Groulx threw his stick in the air in frustration. Other Potsdam players charged at the ref yelling. Bernard screamed from the bench. Viola ended up with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Shortly after play resumed, Smith leveled Decosse, receiving the major and DQ. Decosse laid on the ice for a long period of time. He was reported to be okay after the game.
On that major power play, Brown clinched it with his second of the night. Potsdam had three breakaways or semi-breakaways during the major, but each time Rubeniuk stood his ground and came up with a great save.
Ultimately, despite all that happened, Rubeniuk’s saves were the difference in the hockey game.
Geneseo (8-10-1, 4-6-0) leapfrogs past Potsdam, moving into a three way tie for fourth place with Brockport and Cortland. The Ice Knights have one game next weekend at Morrisville.
Potsdam (7-9-2, 3-6-1) falls to seventh place, one point behind the three teams in fourth place. The Bears stay on the road next weekend, traveling to Oswego and Cortland.