FREDONIA, N.Y. — St. Anselm overcame a hot, first-time starter in net and a major penalty at the end of the third period to stretch its winning streak to five games in a come-from-behind 4-2 victory at Fredonia.
The Hawks scored three times in the third, including an empty-netter, after entering the period behind 2-1.
“We haven’t played since December 5 and Fredonia hasn’t played since December 11, so you never know how you are going to play,” St. Anselm coach Ed Seney said. “As the game got on, we got a lot of shots. It seems like the more we played, the better we played. That’s one of our best efforts of the year, coming from behind, battling back, and then having to kill the five minute major.”
For two-and-a-half years, Tyler Palmerton was the third goaltender for Fredonia amongst a trio of juniors. In that time, he only got into a game three times for a grand total of 16 minutes and 52 seconds – not even a period’s worth of hockey.
The usual starter, Mark Friesen, and No. 2 netminder, Jeff Holloway, both from Alberta, arrived back on campus late after the holiday break. Thus, Fredonia coach Jeff Meredith sat them for this game, starting the little-used Palmerton.
Palmerton made the best of his opportunity, shutting out St. Anselm for half the game, making 29 saves and providing his team with an excellent chance at victory.
“I thought he deserved to win the game,” Meredith said. “This game didn’t come down to goaltending. Palmerton deserved better.”
Fredonia failed on two breakaways and a shorthanded two-on-one in the first period, but converted on a rebound at 16:04. Nick Dries made the initial save, a tough one, on Stephen Castriota’s shot. However, the rebound came out to the right slot where Chad Bennett quickly sent it back and into the net.
After Palmerton went half the game without letting up a goal, his defense let him down. While shorthanded, the Blue Devils got sloppy in their own end. This led to Johnny Daniels stripping the puck at the right faceoff circle allowing himself to go in alone on Palmerton, tying the game at 10:49.
Fredonia retook the lead thanks to a bouncing puck. Mat Hehr’s shot from the left dot deflected off a number of players, changing speed which caused Dries to mistime it. The bouncing puck slid behind him and Chris Jung was able to push it in at 17:28 for his first goal of the season.
St. Anselm came out in the third period strong and it didn’t take long to tie the game as Tucker Mullin went down the right side beat Palmerton at 1:22.
The Hawks took the lead at 6:23 when Liam McKillop stole that puck just outside the blueline. He raced into the zone on the right zone, blasting a bullet that deflected off the far post into the net for the 3-2 lead.
“We have to play 2-1 hockey games,” Meredith said. “A defenseman in the neutral zone wants to make a play. You can’t make a play there. There’s a time to just swat it out and live to see another day. The play is not to make a play.”
Fredonia was provided a golden opportunity to salvage the game when Greg Merrill was called for a major hit to the head with 4:27 left in regulation. Thus, the Blue Devils had the rest of the third period to at least try to tie the game.
However, they spent too much time passing the puck around and too little time shooting it at the net. St. Anselm remained disciplined in their box, eventually, getting it out of the zone, and wound up scoring an empty-netter from Joe Tabano with 0.2 seconds left on the clock.
“I thought the key to our game was the penalty kill,” Seney said. “Power plays are going to struggle. We got the five-minute major. The problem was the kid who got thrown out was one of our best penalty killers. We got in their shooting lanes. I was very happy with the penalty kill.”