With just three games left in the regular season (except for Morrisville, who has four left), teams are starting to settle into certain positions. Of course, some of this is due to two teams not eligible for postseason play.
The two bye positions are virtually settled. Oswego still holds a five point lead for first place over Plattsburgh, so now the magic number is one point.
Plattsburgh also holds a five point lead over Fredonia for second place. A win by Plattsburgh over Buffalo State on Friday will make Saturday’s game moot. If not, a victory over Fredonia Saturday night will do the trick. If not, then Plattsburgh has other problems.
Last week’s Game of the Week lived up to its billing and importance in the standings. Brockport closed the gap to third place coming into Fredonia, and thus hoped to shrink the lead ever further. It was an exciting, back-and-forth, free skating game along with excellent goaltending.
Everytime Brockport took a one goal lead, Fredonia came back to tie it up. First it was Gregg Amato in the first followed by James Muscatello before the period ended. The second went by without a score. Then, it was Ray Tremblay 33 seconds into the third followed by Brett Mueller.
James Cody broke the tie just 1:28 later with 4:41 left in the game. It appeared the Golden Eagles would accomplish their mission, but with the goaltender pulled, Alex Morton forced overtime with 1:26 left. The tying goal nearly did not occur.
Just before, Brockport appeared to be clearing the zone, but a well-placed check allowed Fredonia to keep the puck in the zone. The resulting pressure meant a tie game.
“You go out on a limb when you get your goalie out,” Fredonia coach Jeff Meredith said. “I figured that thing is coming our way and liable to be the end of it. Somehow we managed to keep that in and it got to the net and boom, boom, boom there it is.”
“Unfortunately, we had a major breakdown at the end of regulation, allowing them to tie it,” Brockport coach Brian Dickinson said.
Despite 11 total shots in overtime no one went home a winner. Brockport’s Todd Sheridan wound up with 45 saves while Kody Van Rentergem had 41.
“I thought it was a really good college hockey game with good chances both ways,” Dickinson said.
“I liked the way our guys battled,” Fredonia coach Jeff Meredith said.
This was the second 3-3 tie for Fredonia on the weekend. The night before they tied Geneseo, but this time it was the opposition that scored the final late goal.
The road team once again took 1-0 and 2-1 leads. They traded goals in the first by Jake Yard and Bryan Ross. Ryan Bulach gave the Ice Knights the 2-1 lead early in the second before Mueller and Morton gave the Blue Devils the only lead for the weekend.
That lead held up for over 20 minutes before Clint Olson scored on the power play with 2:51 left in regulation. Adrian Rubeniuk had 38 saves for the visitors with Pat Street stopping 26.
“Right now we got two goaltenders who are playing really well,” Meredith said.
“Perseverance,” is how Meredith describes his team lately. “I’ve seen a lot of that in the last week or two, and that’s a quality they are going to need when we get into the playoffs.”
Fredonia is three points ahead of Brockport, putting the magic number at three points because Fredonia wins the tiebreaker.
Though Brockport is tied with Geneseo, they only have to worry about Potsdam and Cortland catching them for the last home ice spot. Being four points ahead of Potsdam and currently owning the tiebreaker makes that magic number two. They get to play Cortland in the last game of the season. Brockport’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot is one point since they claim the tiebreaker over Morrisville, despite the Mustangs’ game in hand.
Three teams are fighting it out for the remaining two playoff spots. Potsdam holds a one point lead over Cortland who holds a two point lead over Morrisville, who has a game in hand on both teams.
This tight trio was due to the Mustangs beating the Bears for the second time this year, 5-4, despite getting out shot, 38-19. The key in the game was a well-placed second period timeout called by Brian Grady as Potsdam was starting to take control of the play. Afterward, Morrisville got their act together, and were able to slow Potsdam down.
Throughout the game until the very end, Potsdam kept taking a one goal lead only to have Morrisville tie it up. In the first, Tyler Swan then Matt Salmon scored. For the second, it was Fraser Smith followed by three consecutive power-play goals: Andrew Alarie, Connor Treacy, and Bobby Cass. Thus, the teams entered the third at 3-3.
Colin MacLennan gave Potsdam their last lead, but Alarie tied it 1:25 later. Alarie completed the hat trick with the game winner on the power play at 11:33. Potsdam could not capitalize on a late power-play opportunity. Caylin Relkoff was the deciding factor in the game as he made 34 saves.
SUNYAC Short Shots
Todd Sheridan only needed 15 saves in Brockport’s 3-2 win over Buffalo State … Luke Moodie scored twice and despite goaltender Kyle Gunn-Taylor getting a game misconduct, Oswego beat Cortland, 5-2 … Danny Scagnelli and Stefan Decosse gave Geneseo the lead and then hung on for a 2-1 victory over Buffalo State … Plattsburgh and Morrisville entered the third period tied at one, but Phil Farrow’s two goals helped lead the Cardinals to the 4-1 win.
Oswego’s Eric Selleck leads the nation in points with 46 … His teammate, Justin Fox, is tied for second in assists (28) … Another Laker, Neil Musselwhite, continues to lead the nation in short-handed goals (five) … Yet another teammate, Jon Whitelaw, is third in rookie points with 31 … Their goaltender, Kyle Gunn-Taylor, has the country’s second best goals against average of 1.59 … Fredonia’s Steve Rizer is tied for the national lead for points by a defenseman at 30.
Game of the Week
Three games are worth mentioning, but only one gets the nod.
In a normal year, Geneseo at Brockport would be it. These teams are tied with 13 points each and could have been playing for the last home ice spot. Instead, they play for the rivalry and pride. And for Brockport, the goal to get closer to a home ice spot.
“We’re looking forward to playing a great game against a team who doesn’t really have much to play for except for pride,” Brockport coach Brian Dickinson said. “We know they are going to come in and want to spoil our chances of getting a little closer to a home playoff spot. It’s a great rivalry anyway. Hopefully, we can thrive off the crowd. I think it will be a big crowd. Looking forward to a great hockey game. A crucial two points on the line for us. But at the same time, we want to continue to get better, so we can enter the playoffs on a high note.”
The games up in the North Country mean a lot for three of the teams, with the possibility of the Fredonia at Plattsburgh game standing out the most. For Fredonia, it’s not a matter of setting a goal to maintain third place, but to ensure they continue to play their game.
“I know itâ€™s important for us to keep playing our hockey,” Fredonia coach Jeff Meredith said. “If we can do that, everything should take care of itself. It’s all more how we play than who we play.”
The Game of the Week goes to Cortland at Morrisville. Has there ever been a more important game between these two teams? Is there a more important game anywhere in the country that could decide whether one of the teams makes the playoffs?
“I don’t think there has been two points that are more important to these two teams,” Cortland coach Joe Baldarotta said. “Me and Coach Grady have the exact same approach. It’s playoff hockey right now and we got to win. Morrisville is a good team. We have a lot of respect for them. I love playing them. It’s set up to be a very big night.”
Baldarotta is realistic for the expectations in this game: “Do you honestly think we’re going to have a bad game? Do you honestly think they’re going to have a bad game? The way I’m approaching it personally is nothing bad can happen to the winner of the game, and nothing great can happen to the loser of the game.”
The coaches and the teams know exactly what this game means.
On the Periphery
My sister lives in Maryland and my uncle lives in Virginia, both in the D.C. region. As everyone knows, they, along with the entire Mid-Atlantic states, have been getting pounded by snow this year. More than most residents there have ever seen in their lifetime.
The interesting thing is, people in Upstate New York, especially the snow belt areas, have no sympathy for them. None. In fact, most of us are laughing about it. Perhaps, it’s a bit of revenge after all the years the rest of the country laughs at, or worse, completely ignores, all the snow we get each and every year thanks to Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
Perhaps, it’s the way they handle it, or rather don’t handle it. When Rochester got 24 inches in one day and then 18 inches two days later, nobody canceled work. Heck, the very next day each time, all the major roads and airport were ready for use. My uncle, who works for the Department of Energy, has not had work all week.
Remember a few years ago when Oswego had 141+ inches of snow in a week or so timeframe? Was one single college hockey game canceled? No!
As one local radio DJ said, “Snowmageddon? Snowpocalypse? In Rochester, we call it Wednesday.”