This Week in SUNYAC

SUNYAC Goes 6-4-1 Versus ECAC West

After a very disappointing year for SUNYAC teams against the ECAC West, the public schools started the season with a solid weekend against their private counterparts.

“I always thought the SUNYAC is a strong league,” Plattsburgh coach Bob Emery said. “And it’s getting stronger and stronger each year, and maybe it’s catching up to the other leagues. We had such a good thing going in the SUNYAC that I think coaches didn’t put an emphasis on the non-conference games. Maybe now, they are starting to place an emphasis on these games.”

“The top teams are always strong,” Fredonia coach Jeff Meredith said. “It’s the middle teams and bottom teams that have gotten stronger that makes this league so tough.”

The top team, Plattsburgh, scored perhaps the most dramatic goal of the weekend. Debuting their complete renovation of Stafford Ice Arena, it took just nine seconds to get the fans off those brand spanking new seats. You’d be hard pressed to find a quicker baptism.

“Our guys were anxious to play since it was our first game,” Emery said. “It was just a matter of our guys coming out of the locker room with a ton of emotions. We dumped the puck deep, forced a turnover, and got a lucky bounce.”

Eric Satim christened the building and then Dylan Clarke made it 2-0 at 3:29. Dan Sliasis scored in the second for a 3-0 lead, and Plattsburgh never looked back, beating Elmira, 6-3 (Shawn Dennis, Ward Smith, and Clarke with his second got the other goals). Bryan Hince made 20 saves.

The last time these two arch rivals met was in the national semifinal game seven months ago. Plattsburgh won then, too. The score? 6-3.

Perhaps the most shocking win was not just the victory, but the fact that it was a shutout. Buffalo State did the honors, whitewashing the No. 8 team in the preseason polls, Hobart, 4-0.

“After the SUNYAC Challenge, I felt we were playing pretty good hockey, but weren’t getting the breaks,” Buffalo State coach Nick Carriere said. “Our approach to Hobart was just to continue a lot of the good things we’ve been doing. Our guys executed. We had our go to guys do their business. We shutdown their go-to guys.”

Those go to guys were Joe Curry on the power play in the first, Kerry Barchan in the second, Cory Park, and Nick Petriello on the man advantage. Zach Grasley made 26 saves for his first collegiate shutout in just his third start. And he beat Keith Longo in the process.

The next day didn’t go as well as Hobart enacted revenge on their home ice, 5-3.

“We gave then a couple of quick goals right off the bat and that was the nail in the coffin,” Carriere said. “We had some opportunities to comeback with special teams, made it 4-3, but couldn’t get it done.”

Petriello scored to make it 2-1, but two more goals put Buffalo State in a bigger hole. Curry and Barchan registered power-play tallies, but that was all the Bengals could muster. Nonetheless, the Bengals feel good about the weekend.

“We played a ranked team and beat them pretty convincingly,” Carriere said. “We feel we can beat anyone in the country.”

Another shocking game turned out to be a loss, but very nearly was the upset of the weekend. Morrisville, with just five wins last year, came oh so close to toppling the No. 9 team in the preseason poll, Manhattanville.

After falling behind 1-0 after one, Andrew Alarie and Dave Schultz scored to give the Mustangs the lead. Then, after another deadlock, Geoff Matzel put Morrisville ahead 3-2 in the third. Alas, it wouldn’t hold up as Manhattanville scored three unanswered goals for the 5-3 victory. Caylin Relkoff made 41 saves.

Though the official scorer gave Morrisville only 11 shots, in reality it was probably more than that. The game was not as lopsided as the stat sheet indicated.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with our effort,” Morrisville coach Brian Grady said. “We battled in all three zones. We took away their time and space. We took away their transition game. We bottled them up. We kept them along the perimeter. We didn’t play not to lose. We played to win. More than anything, it was a confidence game for us.

“It’s a work in progress. In games like this, even though it was frustrating, even though you wanted to win, it is still a big step forward for us. The feeling in the locker room was like I’ve never seen before.”

As is the case in sports at times, the team that should win doesn’t and visa versa. That was the case in the Geneseo-Neumann series. Geneseo won the first night, 3-2, on a late goal by Phil Rose with 54 seconds left in the contest. Jeff Pasemko made 34 saves for the victory.

Neumann came back the next day for a 4-3 win, despite Geneseo leading 1-0 (Sebastian Panetta) and 3-2 (Jimmy Powers and Clint Olson). Cory Gershon made his first start and stopped 29 shots. But, it should have been the other way around.

“I thought Neumann got the better part of the play on Friday, and we won,” Geneseo coach Chris Schultz said. “Conversely, I thought we got the better part of the play on Saturday, and we lost.

“I really liked the way we performed on Saturday, the game we lost. We carried the majority of play. Created a lot of opportunities. Friday, Neumann came right out with a jump in their step, yet we found ourselves up 2-0 [Michael Forgione and Casey Balog]. It didn’t matter who was playing better. It was just a matter of who converted on their opportunities.”

Consistently, Fredonia looked the best over the weekend against Utica with a 3-3 tie (Richard Boyce for the initial lead and third period goals by Boyce again and James Muscatello for the come from behind tie) and a 2-1 win (Bryan Goudy and Alex Morton). After making 42 saves the first night, Pat Street missed a shutout on Saturday by eight seconds while making 28 saves.

“I think we made a lot of progress from the previous weekend at the SUNYAC Challenge, and that’s encouraging,” Meredith said. “They [Utica] have a great set up where they get 3,000 fans every game. It was an exciting place to play. With 3,000 people there, you don’t want to let the game get away.”

Oswego had no problem with Lebanon Valley, winning 7-2 (Ryan Ellis with two, Garren Reisweber, Mark Lozzi, Brendan McLaughlin, Matt Whitehead, and Peter Magagna). Brockport also had no problems with the Flying Dutchmen, shutting them out, 3-0 (Dave McNab, Aaron Boyer, and Jason Gorrie, all the on power play). Todd Sheridan got his first collegiate shutout.

“He’s excited about it,” Brockport coach Brian Dickinson said. “Our team is excited about it.”

Cortland failed to extend the SUNYAC record against the ECAC West when they dropped an 8-3 decision to Hobart despite the shots being even at 39 each. The Red Dragons kept it close early on, scoring the first goal by Greg Haney. After falling behind, 3-1, Jake Saville got one back in the last minute of the second. However, the dam burst, and the Statesmen ran away with the contest. Haney got his second after the game was out of hand.

SUNYAC Short Shots

Potsdam scored six goals by six different players in the second period to take a 6-2 lead over Adrian, but couldn’t hold on in the third, settling for a 6-6 tie … Potsdam had 3-2 and 4-3 leads the next night, but once again could not hold on, losing to Adrian, 6-4.

Game of the Week

Conference play begins this weekend, and some of these games may come back to haunt teams as the battle for playoff spots and playoff positioning may be the toughest ever, if this past weekend is any indication.

Morrisville hosts Geneseo and Brockport. All three teams are coming off weekends which made them feel very good.

“I expect the same thing they were giving everybody last year,” Schultz said of Morrisville. “They don’t give up for 60 minutes and that’s the type of team that scares you.”

“Two teams coming into our barn who are going to be working hard,” Grady said. “We’re certainly cranked up for that and being an alumni weekend, our guys are excited about it.”

Brockport may be coming in with a slight handicap, having to play Hobart before heading to Morrisville.

“When I scheduled Hobart in there I thought did we really want to do that especially knowing that Morrisville was going to play on Friday,” Dickinson said. “But we couldn’t find another date. It’s a good test for us. We need to get our guys to focus on one game at a time. Looking forward to playing Hobart. But the focus for us will be the Saturday game with Morrisville.”

Oswego and Cortland do their travel partner dance in Cortland. The next day, Oswego goes home to get a chance for revenge against Elmira, while Cortland rests a day before taking on Lebanon Valley.

The big series of games will be taking place in the North Country as the teams from western New York make that long annual trek. Based on my predictions, one would think the Fredonia at Potsdam game would be the pick for the game of the week, since it’s those two teams I anticipate fighting for third place.

However, based on Fredonia’s play this year so far, I am particularly curious how their game against Plattsburgh turns out. That result may set the tone for what we can expect the entire year in the SUNYAC. In any case, the games won’t be easy for any team.

“I’m expecting two straight up SUNYAC-type games,” Carriere said. “Nothing but . . . solid hockey games. We’re going to get our guys ready for Potsdam. Afterwards, at about 9:15 p.m., we’re going to switchover, and just think about Plattsburgh.”

“Reminds me of 10 or so years ago,” Meredith said. “That was one of the toughest road trips in college hockey. You knew what you were getting at Plattsburgh, and then you got it again at Potsdam. It’s the same again.”

“They [Fredonia] always try to slow the play down,” Emery said. “They’ve had a lot of success against us. They won the last two games in our place.”

Fredonia certainly has had a lot of success against Plattsburgh since 2004. Fredonia is 6-2-1 in their last nine meetings and 3-1-1 at Stafford in that time period.

“One thing is for sure, you don’t want to play catch up with Fredonia,” Emery said.

On The Periphery

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