This Week in the SUNYAC

Strong Performances

There were some strong performances by SUNYAC teams in their final week of nonconference play. Topping the list was Oswego’s 4-2 triumph over Division I RIT.

Oswego used forechecking, coupled with a strong game in net by Ryan Scott, who made 30 saves to beat their rivals despite being outshot 32-23 in front of a packed house on the road.

RIT got the first goal of the game, but Oswego scored the next three before the first period was complete. Francois Gagnon, Matt Whitehead and Kyle McCutcheon gave Oswego the 3-1 lead. After a lackluster scoreless second period, RIT got one back late in the third. That was answered by Jocelyn Dubord’s empty net goal just eight seconds after RIT pulled their goaltender.

Later in the week, Oswego had a disappointing result when they tied Hamilton, 3-3. Oswego scored the first three goals all on the power play by McCutcheon, C.J. Thompson and Dubord. Hamilton then scored three straight goals late in the second period in a span of 4:46.

Despite Oswego outshooting Hamilton in overtime, 6-1, the extra period-as well as the third period-went by without a score. Chris Hyk started the game making 26 saves in the first two periods before Scott came in to make 10 saves the rest of the way.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was not a win but a tie. Cortland, thanks to-and how many times have we heard this before-an outstanding effort by Matt Meacham was able to tie a much better Utica team, 1-1. Meacham made 55 saves in the game as Utica outshot the Red Dragons, 56-13, including a 23-3 margin in the third period and 5-1 in overtime.

Cortland’s lone goal was scored by Drew Reynolds on the power play in the second period. Utica tied it about four minutes later.

Another SUNYAC team did well against Utica as Fredonia defeated the Pioneers, 5-3. Utica took the initial lead on the power play, but Bryan Goudy came back to tie it up on a shorthander. Steve Greenberg gave Fredonia the lead late in the final minute of the first period.

Utica tied it in the second. Fredonia took the lead again 26 seconds into the third on a goal by Tom Briggs followed by a Colin Sarfeh tally midway through the period. After Utica cut the lead by one on the power play, Neal Sheehan put the game away with a power play goal.

Simon Maignan made 19 saves for the win.

“Utica is one tough hockey team,” Fredonia coach Jeff Meredith said. “They are not scoring a lot of goals but they play in your face and finish all their checks.”

Later in the week, despite losing to RIT, 5-3, Fredonia hung tough against the Tigers all game. Every time RIT scored, Fredonia answered back, all on power play goals by Kraig Kuzma and Sheehan twice.

Meredith explained his team’s success with the man advantage: “We were trying to keep things simple, win loose pucks, and move the puck and get it to the net.”

Not until RIT took a 4-3 lead late in the third was Fredonia not able to respond. A late goal in the third clinched it for RIT. Rick Cazares allowed the Blue Devils to stay close by making 37 saves.

“I feel pretty good about it,” Meredith said about the game despite the loss. “We are on the eve of conference play and our goal is to be playing our best hockey at this time of the year. We are playing good solid hockey.”

After dropping a 4-1 decision to Manhattanville Friday night where Kevin Tessier scored the first goal of the game, Potsdam gave the Valiants all they could handle in a 6-5 loss. The second game was the annual Potsdam visit to Massena, N.Y.

Potsdam’s power play was strong once again as they went three for seven. Unfortunately, they let up four power play goals in seven tries (Manhattanville went two for six in the first game).

T.J. Sakaluk got the scoring started on the power play before Manhattanville scored twice to take a 2-1 lead after one. Potsdam then scored three straight goals by Sakaluk, Tessier on the power play, and Dan Quartucio. Manhattanville tied it up with two power play goals before the second period ended.

Manhattanville took the lead early in the third with a man advantage, only to have the Bears’ Ryan McCarthy tie it up under similar circumstances. Manhattanville finally put the Bears away with the winning goal halfway through the final period.

Perhaps not a strong performance defensively, but offensively, Geneseo exploded against Lebanon Valley, 10-6. Nine different players scored with Kris Heeres the only Ice Knight to get two goals.

Eight goals were scored in the second period, four by each team. Three of them came in the first 1:20 of the middle stanza as Matt Caren scored for the Ice Knights 23 seconds into the period and Lebanon Valley scored twice in a 10-second span.

Geneseo went four for eight on the power play and also scored two shorthanded goals.

Geneseo took 3-0 and 4-1 leads, but didn’t pull away until they scored three straight times to lead off the third including a shorthanded goal by Tyson Terry to make it 10-5.

Jeff Pasemko got the start, but he was pulled after LVC’s fifth goal replaced by Derek Jokic. They both ended up with 11 saves as Jokic got credited with the win.

SUNYAC Short Shots

Plattsburgh outshot Plymouth State, 47-19, in their 5-2 win … Those teams traded the first two goals 20 seconds apart in the first 55 seconds of the game … Talk about trading quick goals, Brockport and Suffolk traded the first two goals 22 seconds apart and then traded the last two goals of the game 12 seconds apart … Meacham made another 44 saves in Cortland’s 6-2 loss to Elmira … Oswego currently has a six game unbeaten streak (5-0-1) and is undefeated on the road (7-0-0) … On the other end of the scale, Potsdam is winless in their last seven games (0-4-3).

Game of the Week

Talk about perfect symmetry. Conference play returns Friday night and the travel partners square off to begin the second half of the season. Thus, with the current standings, the match ups are 1st vs. 8th, 2nd vs. 7th, 3rd vs. 6th, and 4th vs. 5th.

Oswego goes into Cortland in what should be an easy win for the Lakers. But, just ask Utica about Matt Meacham.

Geneseo hosts their Rochester rival. The Ice Knights are coming off a mixed bag of results lately while Brockport is still struggling to find their way.

Plattsburgh heads east to play Potsdam. The Bears desperately need to turn their season around while Plattsburgh is looking to make their patented second half run.

The game of the week is naturally the closest matched one. Fredonia and Buffalo State are tied not only for fourth place, but for the last home ice berth in the first round.

Fredonia comes into this game at Buffalo with some solid results in nonconference play, and haven’t worried about the Bengals until the right time.

“We’ve been working our way through the nonconference portion,” Meredith said after the RIT game. “RIT was an excellent opportunity to play a really good hockey team. We really haven’t looked at Buff. State yet. We’ll be looking at them the next couple of days. Our guys are really excited to be getting into the SUNYAC play again.”

Meanwhile, Buffalo State during the last few weeks have been exactly what their coach describes them: “Inconsistent.”

“All of our nonconference games were first games back [from a break],” Buffalo State coach Nick Carriere said. “Our team has struggled to get up for the nonconference games.”

That of course won’t be a problem for the upcoming game.

“That’s where I was from,” Carriere said of Fredonia. “I know the team really well. I think my team has a bad taste left in their mouths from the last time we played them. We were up by two goals and then we lost in overtime on a broken play. Fredonia is a good hockey team. They played RIT really well. They’re going to come at us hard.”

“All the SUNYAC games are huge,” Meredith said. “You got to win them and you got to win them on the road. Buffalo State is a hard working, scruffy team. We kind of escaped a bullet when we played them earlier. I really love the way we are playing now. We have to go up there and play with the same kind of intensity we played tonight. And if we don’t, then we are back to square one again.”

This may be the first conference game back, but the results could very well have a direct bearing on the playoff picture in three weeks.

Life Is Good

SUNYAC play returns. How can it get any better than that?