SUNYAC wrap: Feb. 28

Overtime Frenzy in the SUNYAC
There is nothing in sports like overtime playoff hockey. Nothing.
This SUNYAC semifinal round graced us with not one, but both, games going into overtime.
“We could have made this place erupt two or three times in overtime,” Geneseo coach Chris Schultz said.
However, both results left the home crowd going home quiet and disappointed, as the top two seeds fell to the fourth and sixth seeds.
The first stunner was top nationally ranked and top-seeded Oswego falling to sixth seed Fredonia, 2-1. The winning goal was scored at 11:34 of overtime by Ben Waldman. The play was created behind the net when Mitch Kulikoski passed it over to Mat Heh, who continued to skate it behind the net. The Oswego defense collapsed behind the net to cover these two players, leaving Waldman wide open in the slot.
Hehr saw Waldman and fed him with a perfect pass. Waldman didn’t waste it, one-timing a wrist shot which Paul Beckwith had no chance at. Suddenly, Oswego was out of the playoffs, and for the first time ever, a sixth seeded team is in the finals. Oswego has now failed to win the championship for the fifth out of eight times they have been the number one seed.
Fredonia got on the scoreboard first when Alex Morton scored a power-play goal at 6:08 of the first period. Morton’s shot from the left face off circle appeared to be deflected by defenders on the way in.
Luke Moodie tied it up in the second at 8:50. The goal was a result of a terrible giveaway, as Fredonia tried to clear their zone. Oswego picked up the loose puck, and because the Fredonia defenders’ momentum was leaving the zone, the Blue Devils gained a two-on-one advantage.
Paul Rodrigues fed Moodie down the right side. Moodie then appeared to hang onto the puck too long until he was at an almost impossible angle. However, he was able to shoot the puck behind Beckwith just inside the far post milliseconds before the net was knocked off its moorings.
The third period went by without a goal, as Oswego outshot Fredonia, 17-10. The Lakers also had the shot advantage in the extra period, 8-4. However, Mark Friesen was solid in net, making 43 saves, enabling Waldman to perform his heroics.
Over in Geneseo, the crowd got to bite their nails for a longer time, as overtime went to the 17:47 mark before Ryan Craig scored the game-winner for Plattsburgh, 3-2.
“Working hard down low, then my linemate, Nick Jensen, was caught from behind and threw it to me,” Ryan Craig explained. “I walked out and was surprised no one was on me. I just kind of threw it up top. I didn’t see it go in, but I heard the cheers.”
“I saw Craig on the side of the net,” Plattsburgh coach Bob Emery said. “If I could have pushed him to the front of the net faster, I would have, because it seemed like it took him forever to step out and shoot it.”
For a more complete description of the exciting contest, plus a photo gallery, go to the game recap.
Craig’s goal kept two streaks intact. It is the 20th consecutive time Plattsburgh will be playing in the SUNYAC championship game. Also, ever since the playoff format has been used to decide a SUNYAC champion, the finals have always consisted of either Plattsburgh or Oswego (and the seven times prior when the regular season record was used to determine the champion, it still consisted of either Plattsburgh or Oswego).
It was also a milestone game for Geneseo — their 1,000th hockey game in school history. The program was started in 1974 after a year as a club team when they brought in Paul Duffy, then an assistant at Michigan State. Duffy wound up staying as their head coach until he retired in 2001, winning one SUNYAC title (1986) and making the NCAA playoffs (1990) once.
He was replaced by Brian Hills from 2001-2005. After winning the conference championship in 2005, Hills moved to RIT. Jason Lammers replaced him for one year, and in that year won a repeat SUNYAC title, getting them to their second consecutive NCAA appearance. When Lammers suddenly left, Chris Schultz was brought in.
Duffy won the SUNYAC Coach of the Year three times, and it was just announced that Chris Schultz won that award for the first time this year. The Ice Knights produced eight All-Americans.
In these first 1,000 games, Geneseo is 497-448-55 (.525). Unfortunately, Geneseo ended its 1,000 game mark the same way they started, with a loss like they did before 1,400 fans at the Ira S. Wilson Ice Arena back in 1974.
SUNYAC Players of the Week (selected by the conference)
Co-Player of the Week:  Ben Waldman, Fredonia (F, So., Pittsford, N.Y.). Scored four goals in two SUNYAC tournament games. Waldman scored all three goals in a 3-2 first round win at Buffalo State, posting the sixth post-season hat trick in Blue Devil history. He then scored the game-winning goal in overtime at Oswego in the semifinal round.
Co-Player of the Week:  Ryan Craig, Plattsburgh (F, Jr., Easton, Maryland). Tallied eight points on four goals during two SUNYAC tournament games. Craig recorded a hat trick in Plattsburgh’s 4-3 quarterfinal game against Morrisville, including the game-tying goal in the third period to force the overtime. In the SUNYAC semifinal game against Geneseo, Craig buried the game-winner with just over two minutes left in overtime.
Rookie of the Week: Nick Jensen, Plattsburgh (F, Helsingborg, Sweden). Assisted on Plattsburgh’s first three goals against Morrisville in the SUNYAC quarterfinal, including the game-tying goal that came at the 13:08 mark of the third to send the game to overtime, where the Cardinals prevailed 4-3. In Saturday’s semifinal game against Geneseo, Plattsburgh also needed overtime to seal the win. This time, Jensen assisted on the game-winning goal with just over two minutes left in overtime for the 3-2 win.
Goaltender of the Week: Mark Friesen, Fredonia (Fr., Calgary, Alberta). Helped the Blue Devils to a 2-0 week in the SUNYAC tournament. He recorded 26 saves in the quarterfinal 3-2 win over Buffalo State, including a pad save in the final minute while the Blue Devils were killing a penalty and were skating two men down due to a pulled goalie. Friesen finished with 43 saves in the semifinals. Friesen and the Fredonia players killed off all three Laker power play opportunities.