SUNYAC play-in preview

Quick Turnaround
There isn’t much time for any of the teams involved with the commotion of the last weekend to either enjoy or dwell on.

Buffalo State got a home spot, but now must play a team which beat it twice. Potsdam barely got into the playoffs, but now must travel all the way to Buffalo midweek. Fredonia has to go on the road, and turn it around against a tough opponent. Geneseo got a home spot, but has no time to rest an injured bench.

Then, when the Play-In round is over, the winners only have two days before hitting the road to do it again.

(All statistics in the previews are for conference play only.)

Fredonia (6-7-3, 11-10-3) at Geneseo (7-8-1, 13-11-1)
With all the inconsistencies, lost players, and injuries, Geneseo finished strong at 3-1-1 down the stretch, and that one loss was only 2-1 to Plattsburgh, where the Ice Knights outshot the Cardinals. This helped propel them into a home playoff game.

“It’s always a bonus,” Geneseo coach Chris Schultz said. “We won some important games at the end of the season to get us here.”

Geneseo is 18-26-2 in SUNYAC playoffs. Last year, the Ice Knights got bounced in the first round at Plattsburgh. Their last win was in 2009 in the first round against Buffalo State.

Meanwhile, Fredonia comes into the contest with a 1-4 record in its last five games, albeit with three of those losses by one goal, two of them in overtime.

Last year, the Blue Devils made it all the way to the championship game, all on the road. The last time they made it to the championship game, which they won, they also played entirely on the road. Fredonia is 22-25-4 overall in SUNYAC playoffs.

The Blue Devils have one of the best players in the league, Bryan Ross (8-15-23), named to the first team All-SUNYAC and fourth in league scoring. Mat Hehr (6-9-15) and Mike Muhs (5-10-15) are also dangerous.

Fredonia has the reputation of being a defensive-oriented team, but this year they were third in scoring (3.50 goals per game) and the power play (22.5 percent) while they were fifth in defense (3.31) and sixth on the penalty kill (77.6 percent).

Nonetheless, this team will go as far as Mark Friesen (3.23 goals against average, .902 save percentage) will carry them.

Despite the talent, when they are healthy, Geneseo has struggled to score this year, finishing last in that category (2.75) and seventh on the power play (an anemic 16.0 percent). However, defensively, it ranks fourth (3.25).

The top goal scorer is Corbin Rosmarin at six, and the top assist-getter is Zachary Vit at 12, a third team selection. The goaltending tandem was used all year between senior Cory Gershon (3.20 goals against average, .890 save percentage) and junior Adrian Rubeniuk (3.43 goals against average, .890 save percentage).

“I think we match up very well with Fredonia,” Schultz said. “I think it comes down to who scores the opportunistic goal and which goalie plays best.”

The teams split their regular season contests, each winning at home. First, Geneseo did it 2-1, and then Fredonia got revenge, 4-2.

Potsdam (6-10-0, 8-15-2) at Buffalo State (8-7-1, 12-11-2)
For the second year in a row, Buffalo State finished in third place.

“Everybody is excited about that,” Buffalo State coach Nick Carriere said. “It’s exciting to host home playoff games. The women’s basketball team is hosting a home playoff game Tuesday. If anything, it’s kind of tough. The students are gone Monday, Tuesday, so it’s hard to promote it.”

Last year, it didn’t matter, as they lost to Fredonia, 3-2. In fact, the Bengals have hosted two playoff games, both one-goal losses to the Blue Devils. Buffalo State has won just one SUNYAC playoff game in eight tries.

Meanwhile, Potsdam returns to the playoffs after a one-year absence. It has not won a postseason game since 2008, losing in the first round the two times since then in Brockport. The Bears are 14-30-1 in SUNYAC playoff action.

This is a particular interesting matchup in that the only team Potsdam has beaten twice and the only road win the Bears have all season is against Buffalo State. Potsdam had a 3-2 come-from-behind victory in Buffalo, and then won handily, 5-1, in the North Country.

“I think we put that behind us,” Carriere said. “Not looking at any kind of revenge. We’re aware of the deficiencies of the past when we played them, and we’re working on correcting them.”

Goaltending has been more consistent for Buffalo State, as Kevin Carr, a second team All-SUNYAC selection, is clearly the go-to guy with a 2.70 goals against average and .917 save percentage. Potsdam started with Dylan Ellis and ended with Kevin McFarland, who has been playing solid in his senior year.

The Bears have some scorers, including the conference’s leading assist man, Sy Nutkevitch, with 22, who was selected to the All-SUNYAC second team. Mike Arnold has the most short-handed goals, Erick Ware, a third-team All SUNYAC selection, is the leading scorer amongst defenseman (4-10-14) as well as second in rookie scoring, while his teammate, Trevor Cope, was tops amongst rookies (5-10-15).

Drew Klin (10-10-20), a third team selection, is the top Bengals scorer. Trevor McKinney (9-7-16) and Justin Knee (7-6-13) are also strong contributors.

Buffalo State is a well-rounded team. They are second in offense (4.06), third in defense (2.88), tops in the power play (31.2 percent), and third in penalty killing (83.8 percent).

Despite the blown first-period lead back in November, Buffalo State scores most of its goals in the third period, while Potsdam is most productive in the opening period.

“I like where we’re at,” Carriere said. “I like the combinations we have now.”