This Week in the SUNYAC: Dec. 5, 2002

Lone Champion

Four SUNYAC teams competed in Thanksgiving weekend tournaments, but only Oswego came away with a first-place trophy despite three schools making it to the finals. Oswego easily won the first game of the Ben McCabe Tournament at Amherst. The Great Lakers defeated Trinity 8-3, jumping out to a 3-0 first-period lead, and never looked back. Don Patrick and Jocelyn Dubord each got a pair of goals. Joe Lofberg got the win with 26 saves.

The championship game saw Oswego face Wentworth, a team that has registered a number of surprises this year. Oswego would not be victim to one of them, as it took the title with a 5-1 win. Don Patrick, who was named Tournament MVP, scored another while Andy Rozak scored twice. Tyson Gajda had a shutout going till late in the third period, ending up with 33 saves for the win.

Oswego had an excellent week, also beating Williams, 5-4, the day before Thanksgiving. The winning goal by Mike Lukajic came with under two minutes left in the game.

The Great Lakers wrapped up the past two weeks with a key conference win over their travel partners, Cortland, 7-0. Five first-period goals set the stage for the shutout. Lukajic was the only player to score more than once, notching a pair. Lofberg got the shutout with 18 saves, as Oswego outshot the Red Dragons, 47-18, and scored four power-play goals.

There may not be a hotter team in the SUNYAC than Oswego, which has gone 6-0-1, averaging over six goals a game since getting off to a slow 1-3 start. Oswego travels to Brockport and Geneseo this weekend, two games it should win, especially with the way it has been playing lately.

Shootout In The Shootout

I suppose it is appropriate that the PrimeLink Great Northern Shootout would have a shootout. And, I suppose it is convenient for this columnist that the shootout occurred between the two SUNYAC schools — Plattsburgh and Potsdam. It was a see-saw battle all game. Louis David-Demers gave the Bears the first lead just 1:24 into the game. Jordan Smith tied it up on a shorthanded goal. Scott Craig scored in the final minute of the opening period on the power play to give Potsdam the 2-1 lead at intermission.

Plattsburgh came back to take a a 3-2 lead on two goals by Dave Young, the first on the power play in the second period, and the go ahead goal in the third. However, John Bernfell, a former Cardinal who transferred to Potsdam, tied the game with 54 seconds left with the extra skater.

Potsdam outshot Plattsburgh, 7-0, in the extra five minutes, but the game would end up tied. That’s how it will go down in the team’s respective records. However, in order to determine who would advance in the tournament, a shootout commenced.

Plattsburgh managed just one goal, scored by Brendon Hodge, as Ryan Venturelli stymied them. Potsdam didn’t even need its last shooter as it took the shootout, 2-1, on goals by Chris Lee and Mike Snow.

Tony Seriac of Plattsburgh made 45 saves in the game, while Venturelli made 33.

This put Potsdam in the finals, where the Bears fell to number-one Norwich, 5-2. Potsdam stayed close, down 2-1 on a goal by Tim Powers, heading into the second, and outplayed and outshot the Cadets in that middle period. However, the Bears didn’t score, and let up a shorthanded goal with 13 seconds left. That broke their backs, and they never recovered, even letting up another shorthanded goal in the third. Craig scored the other Potsdam goal.

Potsdam did play earlier in the week, defeating Hobart for the second time this year, this time by a 4-3 score. Eric Peter-Kaiser scored twice while Scott Craig and Jim Quilty got the other scores. Venturelli only needed to make 20 saves for the win.

Meanwhile, that tie against Potsdam seemed to have woken Plattsburgh up, and the Cardinals rolled over Middlebury, 6-1. Six different players scored, and Craig Neilson got the win with 36 saves.

Play It Again, Sam

Four days after the North Country rivals squared off in the Shootout, they met again in Potsdam for a conference game. This time it wasn’t close at all. Well, for the first ten minutes it was, and then Plattsburgh just crushed Potsdam, with five goals in the last ten minutes of the first period, rolling to a 9-1 win.

Rob Retter was the only player who scored more than one, netting two. The rest of the scoring was spread out, and it included two power-play goals and one shorthander.

The wipe out allowed Curtis Crabbie to get some action between the pipes, as the freshman has been out with an injury all year. He made eight saves as Craig Neilson stopped 10 shots in the first two periods.

On the other end, Venturelli’s streak of playing every minute in goal this season came to an end as he was replaced by Matt O’Connor after the eighth goal.

The shutout was broken with 19 seconds left in the game on a power-play goal by Peter-Kaiser.

Shutout Tuesday … Almost

That late goal by Potsdam prevented Tuesday from being a night of all shutouts. We already mentioned Oswego beating Cortland, 7-0. The other game saw Fredonia whitewash Buffalo State, 6-0, scoring three power-play goals and a shorthander. Tom Briggs scored twice, with Erik Hlavaty, Jim Gilbride, Max Catelin, and Riley McTaggart getting the others. Will Hamele got the shutout with 30 saves.

Fredonia was well rested, as that was the only game it played in the past two weeks. Not so for Buffalo State, who played a pair at Manhattanville, and dropping both of them, 3-2 and 4-2. Joe Urbanik and Dave Cadarette scored the goals in the first game, while Adam Horvath made 36 saves.

The second game saw Rocky Reeves score shorthanded and Cadarette get another. Steve Thering and Nick Berti split the duties in net, making 13 and 12 saves, respectively.

Brockport Success

Considering how their season has been going, the Golden Eagles had a successful two weeks, splitting four games and making it to the finals of the Babson Invitational Tournament.

It started with a 4-2 win over Salve Regina as Brockport unleashed 48 shots on net. Bryan May, Brian Bauman, Michael Cameron, and Paul Stasko scored the goals. Brian Tefft got the win with 39 saves.

Then, Brockport lost to Curry, 5-3, falling behind 3-0 and 5-1. The goal scorers were Mike Blais, Peter Stasko, and Mark Digby. Steve Tippett made 29 saves.

The Golden Eagles won the first round of the Babson Invitational over Stonehill, 4-3. Unlike the shootout in the PrimeLink, this tournament was decided by overtime, no matter how long it went. Digby got the winner at 9:55 of the extra period. Brockport needed goals by Kevin Collins and Nate VanKouwenberg to tie the game after falling behind, 3-1. Digby led off the game by scoring before Stonehill scored three straight goals. Tefft got the win with 30 saves.

Brockport got to play the host team in the finals, and was no match for Babson, losing the game 9-2. Thirty penalties were called, 15 aside, for a total of 87 minutes. The game was tied at 1-1 after one on a shorthanded goal by Nick Smyth. Babson opened up a 6-1 lead before Mick Utzig got one for Brockport on the power play.

Cortland Non-Success

On the opposite side of the ledger, Cortland had a miserable time around Thanksgiving, letting up 22 goals in three games, and only scoring three times (Scott Louis, Matt Donskov, and Ryan Schmidt). Cortland lost to Hobart, 7-1, where all three goalies saw action, to Hamilton, 8-2, and the aforementioned 7-0 loss to Oswego.

In fact, since beating Plattsburgh, it has been all downhill for Cortland, which has lost five in a row, letting up 33 goals and only scoring nine, with four of those coming in one game.

This weekend Cortland gets to play Geneseo and Brockport. Which version of the team will show up?

Lest We Forget

With all this action going on, we didn’t even mention the Plattsburgh-Elmira game. These two extreme rivals went at it in Stafford Arena, and perhaps appropriately, came away with a 5-5 tie.

This was definitely a game of momentum shifts. Plattsburgh jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Brendon Hodge and Jason Kilcan. Elmira then took a 3-2 lead. Plattsburgh came back to take a 4-3 lead on goals by Doug Carr and Dave Young, only to see Elmira regain the lead 5-4. Kilcan tied it up with under three minutes to go in the game with his second on the night. Craig Neilson made 30 saves.

The Featured Word: Light

I have always found it interesting how so many cultures from around the world tend to have similar holidays and/or traditions at certain times of the year.

Take this time for instance when darkness dominates the day, at least in the northern hemisphere. Modern technology has caused us to lose the appreciation of how much the dark was feared by our ancestors. Unable to easily escape it with a simple flick of a switch, with candles being a poor substitute while casting long, scary shadows, the night was a dreaded affair. When the night stretched towards its maximum heading for the winter solstice, with the crops long dormant, and cold setting in, it was a time of despair and concern. And back in the caveman days, it was a time when our predators had the advantage.

So, it is no wonder that ancient cultures devised ways to overcome this.

I will be submitting this column to my editors on the seventh night of Hanukkah — The Festival of Lights.

In a few weeks, Christmas will be here, a time to celebrate the birth of Christ, even though most scholars believed he wasn’t born in December. Yet, Christmas was moved to the winter solstice some 1,600 years ago, and the Christians adopted many of the Pagan traditions including decorating evergreens with candles, leading to doing a similar thing on the house, eventually to the modern day light shows in our neighborhoods.

The Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr at the end of Ramadan, the month long fasting and praying, which this year also falls when my editors are reading this column, wondering what’s gotten into me. Eid al-Fitr is a festive and joyous occasion, accompanied with decorations, including … you guessed it … lights.

The Chinese New Year, celebrated in February, consists of fireworks (which they invented) to light up the sky. In Scandinavian countries, there’s a tradition to leave a large candle to burn all through the night on winter solstice. In Iran, there is the observance of Yalda, sometimes referred to as Sada, where people light huge bonfires on the seashore at sunset.

It is probably appropriate, that hockey, the one sport that requires it be played in the winter (before artificial ice) in the dark, cold nights, is the only sport that has lights as a significant aspect of it’s game. The red light for goals, and the green light for the end of the period.

Light. Appreciate it. And cheer it. Especially when your team makes it go red.

Game of the Week

Just like old times — a Plattsburgh-Fredonia game that means so much.

Everybody keeps waiting for Fredonia to falter. It hasn’t happened with a 5-0 conference record, maintaining first place by three points, and seeming to get stronger.

Meanwhile, it has been Plattsburgh that has struggled with a 3-1-1 league mark, including a loss to Cortland and tie against Oswego. However, Plattsburgh is hot lately, scoring 15 goals and letting up just two in the last two games against ranked opponents.

Is Fredonia for real? Is Plattsburgh ready to start making its run? We’ll find out Friday evening at Fredonia. At the end of the year, we may be pointing back to this game as the pivotal moment of the season.