ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Reed Smith’s power-play goal at 3:34 of overtime led the Nazareth Golden Flyers to a 3-2 win over Geneseo in the opening game for each team of the 2012-13 season.
Nazareth goaltender Ed Zdolshek made 50 saves in the victory.
It was Nazareth’s first game in program history and its first win for coach George Roll.
“It wasn’t pretty, but it was a great win,” said Roll, who celebrated his first win at Nazareth and 238th in his career. “The atmosphere (at the Monroe Community College Sports Center) was incredible. I’ve been in a lot of rinks and that was as loud as it gets.”
What the crowd of 1,812 might have lacked in hockey knowledge it made up for in enthusiasm, standing most of the game and screaming every time the Golden Flyers got the puck over center ice.
Geneseo outshot Nazareth 52-23, including 21-4 in the second period.
The Golden Flyers came out flying from the opening face-off and got the game’s first goal on an unassisted tally by Jordan Ciccarello, who picked off a clearing attempt and beat Blue Knights goaltender Bryan Haude over the shoulder at 9:51.
“We knew the first period would be like that,” said Geneseo coach Chris Schultz. “We weathered that and got a big goal at the end of the period and felt pretty good about ourselves going into the locker room and that set us up for a good second period.”
Geneseo tied the game with just a second to play in the first. After successfully cycling the puck down low, Corbin Rosemarin put the puck inside the left post as the buzzer sounded.
After a short consultation between referees Pete Feola and Jim Visconte, Geneseo was awarded the goal.
The Blue Knights’ momentum eventually fizzled and they could not not score in the second period despite dominating territorially. Zdolshek was outstanding, shopping all 24 shots he faced in that stanza, including an amazing sequence that saw the rookie block a shot and then dive to his right to deny Rosmarin of what looked to be a sure goal on the rebound.
But Romemarin would again come through for the Blue Knights, giving them their first lead of the contest just 1:04 into the third period, putting a backhand shot past Zdolshek off a rebound from a wrister from Tyler Crawford.
The game would stay that way with Geneseo having a huge advantage in scoring attempts, but Zdolchek and his young defense kept the Blue Knights off the board.
Nazareth was able to tie the game at 2-2 6:32 into the third with a power-play goal. A blast by Ciccarello from the point beat Haude for the Connecticut native’s second of the game.
The teams carried that 2-2 score into overtime, where Geneseo’s Justin Scarfe pounded a Nazareth player coming over the boards during a line change. The boarding call gave the Golden Flyers their sixth man advance for the game and they capitalized off a face-off in the Naz zone. The Golden Flyers won the draw back to Reed in the high slot and he unleashed a slapper that beat Haude up high through a screen for the game-winner.
“It was such an adrenaline rush when I saw it go in,” said Smith, a junior transfer from Newmarket, Ont. “We wanted to get a good shot on net and create traffic in front.”
“It was a defensive lapse for us,” said Schultz. “We’re killing a penalty in their zone and when they win it, our center moved forward and not into a defensive position. Those are mistakes you make in a young season and we’ll get better as the season goes on.”
The Golden Flyers mobbed Zdolshek, who was named the game’s first star.
“It was tough with only three practices under our belts but the guys played great in front of me,” said Zdolshek. “Blocking so many shots and clearing rebounds.
“I came [to Nazareth] to make a footprint, to be start of something special.”
“He’s the guy we wanted here,” said Roll of Zdolshek.”He’s our No. 1 guy and he proved it tonight. Other guys will get their chances, but Ed is a real leader out there. He calms things down for us.”
Roll also liked the play of Ciccarello, a transfer from Division I Sacred Heart.
“He’s a leader and very strong on the puck,” said Roll. “He had to log a lot of minutes after [Scott] Dawson went out [due to a fighting major and game disqualification].”
“I’m just very happy for the coaches, the players and the fans,” added Roll.
On the other side, Schultz was trying to put it into perceptive. His squad was probably the better team, but in the end, a few mistakes and the energy of his opponents compensated for the speed and territorial advantage his team had.
“Zdolshek played great [and] we got a lot of pucks on net,” Schultz said. “So we go back and work on this and try to get batter. You don’t win a championship your first game. There’s a long way to go.”
When asked about the unenviable position of being the opponent for Nazareth’s first game, Schultz replied, “We were glad to do it. It’s good for college hockey and George [Roll] is a good friend of mine. I’m happy for him. We’ll get another crack at them [Saturday] and we’ll see what happens. But we were glad to be a part of it.”