SUNYAC Newsletter: Feb. 28, 2001

Plattsburgh Rolls Past Geneseo; Potsdam Smothers Oswego

Did someone in the SUNYAC buy a TiVo system? This year’s playoffs continue to have a repetitive ring to them. The semifinal matchups were the same, and now the championship matchup is identical, thanks to Plattsburgh steamrolling Geneseo in a 8-2 and 7-1 sweep, and Potsdam once again having Oswego’s number, 4-3 and 7-2.

So, just like last year, Potsdam travels to Plattsburgh for the title showdown.

The format changes for the final round — it’s still a first to three points series with no overtimes in the first two games. However, if the series is tied, then a complete game will be played on Sunday at noon. If that game ends in a tie, they head straight into sudden-death overtime.

Series-By-Series Report

PLATTSBURGH d. GENESEO, 2-0 — Geneseo came into this series a bit better than last year, and some felt Plattsburgh was vulnerable this year. That didn’t make any difference as Plattsburgh had no trouble against the Ice Knights, scoring 15 goals, total, and letting up only three.

Game one was virtually over before it got underway as Plattsburgh took a 5-0 lead before the first period was over. And that was on just nine shots.

“We wanted to set an early tone,” Plattsburgh’s Mark Coletta said in the understatement of the weekend. Coletta scored twice with Peter Ollari, Rob Retter, and Derrick Shaw each getting one.

The second period only saw Geneseo score, and that wasn’t till the final five minutes. Jason Burgess and Kyle Langdon did the honors. The third period reverted back to Plattsburgh with Brendon Hodge, Sean Chayters, and Shawn Banks scoring to complete the game. Niklas Sundberg got the win with 19 saves before giving way to Frank Barker, who registered two saves doing cleanup duty.

Game two saw Geneseo come out with better play, but it didn’t translate to the scoreboard as Plattsburgh took a 3-0 first period lead on Ryan Wilson, Ollari, and Coletta goals.

Shaw made it 4-0 in the second before Aaron Coleman temporarily stopped the bleeding with a power-play goal. Brent Armstrong, Kilcan, with a shorthander, and Rob Retter finished off the Ice Knights for good. Sundberg made 27 saves before once again giving way, this time to Mike LaRocca.

POTSDAM d. OSWEGO, 2-0 — Logically, it was supposed to be an Oswego sweep. Historically, it was supposed to be a thrilling drag-out fight culminating in a mini-game.

It was neither, despite the first game showing signs of the latter.

That game one was a nail biting affair that saw the score ping-pong back and forth. Oswego scored first on a Matt Vashaw goal. Potsdam came back on a power-play goal by Joe Wlodarczyk. That was answered on a power-play goal by Oswego scored by Steve Cavallaro, and Oswego took that 2-1 lead into intermission.

Potsdam took their first lead of the game by scoring two goals within 1:07 early in the second period by John Bernfell and Anthony Greer. Oswego, though, was not daunted as Vashaw scored his second of the night to tie the game. The Bears retook the lead early in the third when Mike McCabe scored on the power play.

Then, in what would be a prelude for the second game, Potsdam’s defense stymied any attempt by Oswego to tie the game. The Lakers only managed five shots in the final period, most in the waning minutes when they pulled their goalie. Ryan Venturelli made 21 saves for the win.

Potsdam took that momentum and dominated game two like the Bears hadn’t done all year.

The first period saw Potsdam mostly in their opposition’s end as Oswego got only two shots on goal, with the first one not coming until the 9:58 mark. However, the first period ended scoreless.

Potsdam took the lead early in the second on a Brendon Knight breakaway, but Oswego quickly answered when Rob Smith found himself alone in front of the net.

Potsdam then took a 3-1 lead into the second intermission on goals by Joe Munn and Mike Snow, and broke the game open in the third period when Knight scored his second, Wlodarczyk got credited with a goal that Oswego shot into its own net, and McCabe got a power-play tally.

Mike Lukajic scored for Oswego on the power play before Potsdam’s Mike Smitko got his own power-play score. Venturelli only needed to make 17 saves to get the win.

Finals Preview

POTSDAM (No. 3) at PLATTSBURGH (No. 1) — For the third time in six years, it’s an all-North Country final for the SUNYAC championship. Each time, they have squared off at Stafford Ice Arena, where Potsdam has not won a playoff game.

In fact, the history of this series has been one dominated by Plattsburgh. Heck, even when Potsdam won the championship back in 1996, they never beat Plattsburgh in a full game. The Bears lost twice during the regular season, tied both playoff games, and won it in the mini-game. Now, the final round will go to a full game if tied after two. This provides a huge psychological edge for Plattsburgh.

During the season, both teams controlled play at home. Potsdam won in Maxcy Hall, 5-3, outplaying the Cardinals the whole way. Plattsburgh returned the favor with a 5-0 whitewashing. Sundberg has the edge over Venturelli between the pipes; however, despite the stats, it could be argued that Potsdam has a better defense — if, and this is a big if, they do not commit mental errors, and play like they did against Oswego.

Offensively, the edge clearly goes to Plattsburgh. In league play, the Cardinals averaged over six goals a game, while Potsdam is under four. The past weekend is a perfect indicator of how Plattsburgh spreads the joy around — in game one only one player scored more than once; none did so in game two, despite the high-scoring affairs. Meanwhile, Potsdam has struggled to convert shots into goals.

This series could come down to special teams. Plattsburgh excels in that area, with the top power play and second-best penalty kill in the league.

Potsdam is fairly efficient on the penalty kill as well, but as coach Ed Seney says, “Even if you kill a penalty against Plattsburgh, you’ve expended a lot of energy doing so. They do a lot of puck movement in your zone.” Potsdam must stay out of the box. Aggressive penalties are one thing, but silly penalties will have the Bears packing early.

Like we said earlier, Plattsburgh is mighty tough at home. Potsdam does come in with the confidence they can beat Plattsburgh this year, but the Bears must win game one to have any hope of taking this series.

Even then, we see the Cardinals hoisting the trophy above their heads.