BUFFALO, N.Y. — It appeared Buffalo State was dead and buried, trailing Morrisville 3-0 with 15 minutes to go in the third period. Then, the Bengals put on a stirring comeback, scoring two power-play goals 39 seconds apart and tying the game with two seconds left in regulation.
Despite some strong rushes by both sides in the extra period, the score remained 3-3 at the final buzzer. The tie extended Buffalo State’s unbeaten streak to eight games (6-0-2), tying a school record and becoming the third-longest active streak in the country.
“They found a way to finish it,” Buffalo State coach Nick Carriere said. “Some great execution by our veterans and freshmen out there. We did a great job coming back. Showed some resilience. We’re so young, we don’t know any better. We just keep going.”
“When you have the lead on the road, you are supposed to win those games,” Morrisville coach Brian Grady said.
The comeback started when Morrisville got into penalty trouble, committing two infractions 12 seconds apart as the refs were calling it very close after the game started getting rough at the end of the second period.
During the two-man advantage, Buffalo State finally got one by Caylin Relkoff at 7:30. Justin Knee, standing unguarded in the perfect slot position, took the pass from Trevor McKinney and one-timed a blast glove side.
With a Mustangs player still in the box, the Bengals really got the home crowd excited 39 seconds later, cutting the lead to 3-2. Drew Klin, once again from an excellent position in front of the net, rifled it past Relkoff.
Suddenly, the 3-0 Morrisville lead was only 3-2, and there were still over 11 minutes to play.
Buffalo State pulled its goalie with 1:10 left, and after G.I. Main hit the post on a wide-open attempt at the empty net, Morrisville again took a crucial penalty with eight seconds left.
“We were undisciplined,” Grady said of all the third-period penalties. “I think we panicked a little bit. We didn’t play within ourselves. We got away from our game.”
The Bengals won the faceoff, and very patiently moved the puck around looking for an open shot. Finally, Petriello had that shot from the middle of the blue line. Relkoff stopped it, but couldn’t control the rebound. Sean Murray finally jammed it in with only two seconds left in regulation, sending the game to overtime.
“It was planned to get our senior defensemen up top,” Carriere said. “We ended up winning the draw, and we got it to Nick and he found a way to get it through. The guys just mucked it out and found a way to get it in.”
“At the end there, we had the right guy taking the face off,” Grady said. “He was successful all game.”
It didn’t take long for Morrisville to score the first goal of the game. After Zach Hale was called for slashing 19 seconds into the game, the Mustangs capitalized at 55 seconds. Derek Matheson’s shot from the left point was blocked in front by a defenseman’s stick. However, the deflection went to the right side in close, where Geoff Matzel had the open near side to put it in.
At the midway point of the opening period, Matzel made it 2-0 when he whacked one in off the post from up close.
“I thought we played as well of a 20-minute period in the first period as we played all year,” Grady said. “We moved the puck. We found open ice. We made plays. And we built the 2-0 lead.”
Morrisville had some good opportunities during the second period, especially during an extended four-on-four. With less than two minutes to go, Rob Sgarbossa had a breakaway. However, Hale did a good job harassing him from behind, forcing Sgarbossa to go in too deep, and he was unable to make any sort of move on Kevin Carr.
Shortly afterward, Mike Connolly appeared to have a breakaway for Buffalo State on a quick turnaround at the blue line. However, a teammate could not get out of the zone in time, barely, and offsides was whistled.
Sgarbossa got the key goal to give Morrisville a 3-0 lead at 5:08 of the final period. After Bobby Cass’ shot was saved, similar to the first goal, the rebound went off to the right side and from up close, Sgarbossa sent it into the unguarded near side.
However, the lead proved to be elusive as the Bengals refused to give up, scoring three power-play goals.
“A game like that makes it feel like a win for them and a loss for us,” Grady said.
Carr made 31 saves while Relkoff stopped 34 shots.
Morrisville (4-3-1, 4-2-1) has another SUNYAC game this weekend; it travels to Fredonia Saturday night.
Buffalo State (6-2-2, 4-2-2) stays home, but for a non-conference game against Utica.