First, Brockport hosted a hockey playoff game for the first time in school history. Then, the Golden Eagles did one better. They won a playoff game for the first time in school history. Todd Sheridan made 43 saves and James Cody scored twice as the Golden Eagles defeated Potsdam, 3-1, in the SUNYAC play-in round.
“It feels great,” Brockport coach Brian Dickinson said. “There’s a lot of cheering going on in the locker room. I said to the guys, ‘Hey, we just made history. How does that feel?’ We obviously have played very well at home. I couldn’t be more proud of our accomplishments this year, and hopefully, we can continue that down the road.”
“We just wanted to play our game,” Potsdam coach Aaron Saul said. “We were trying to get pucks to the net and try to get rebounds and crashing our second and third guys. I thought we did an okay job with that. We could have done a little bit better.”
The difference in the game was Sheridan, who kept Potsdam at bay for 57:21 despite heavy pressure at times. That, and a typical Brockport game using aggressive forechecking, sending pucks at the net whenever possible, and going down to block shots.
“He was very focused,” Dickinson said. “He understood what was at hand. When we let him know he was second-team All-Conference, he was a little perturbed at that. Although we have a lot of respect for Mr. Hince up at Plattsburgh, Todd is a competitor and he thinks he’s the best guy for the job. He probably had a little edge knowing he was not first team and took that on the ice. When we were less than good, he was unbelievable. To advance in this league when it’s one and done, if you have a solid goaltender, you can go far.”
“I thought he was the difference,” Saul said. “When you outshoot a team 44-27 and come out on the losing end, it’s usually the goaltender who’s played pretty well. And that was the case tonight.”
After Sheridan kept Potsdam off the scoreboard early in the first period after some good chances, Jason Gorrie gave the home team the lead at 9:26. He picked up a loose puck along the right boards and fired it towards the net. It appeared to be deflected on the way in, and despite Trevor O’Neill getting part of his leg pad on it, it still bounced into the net.
Cody scored twice in the second period to give Brockport a 3-0 lead. His first came at 2:09 on a shot that left no hope for Potsdam. After some action in front of the net, the puck slid out to the slot with no one around. Cody quickly skated in and in one motion fired a slapshot over the left shoulder of the goalie. Justin Noble got the assist.
His second goal came seconds after two Potsdam players came out of the penalty box. However, they were not able to rejoin play before Brockport got the “virtual” two-man advantage score. After a scramble in front of the net with Potsdam unable to clear the puck, Cody knocked in the rebound at the doorstep. His linemates, Gorrie and Noble, got the assists.
“That line played extremely well all night,” Dickinson said. “They got great chemistry. The first one was a cannon. The second one was Johnny-on-the-spot.”
Seconds after the goal, Potsdam’s Matt Rhymer smacked the post. When the Bears weren’t hitting the post, Sheridan continued to shut the door.
Potsdam appeared to have its first goal of the game at 1:54 of the final period. Even though the referee initially signaled a goal through a scramble, after a long conference between the three officials and the goal judge, the decision was reversed due to the net being knocked off before the puck went in.
The Bears finally scored, but it was too little, too late with 2:39 left in the game as Connor Treacy perfectly deflected a lead pass up high past Sheridan. The Bears pulled their goalie the rest of the way, but despite some close chances on both sides, the score remained 3-1.
Potsdam ends its season at 9-12-5.
“It’s been up and down,” Saul said of his season. “It’s definitely been a challenge. But we’re young. We have 10 freshmen and eight sophomores, so we are looking forward to getting more recruits in and turning around to compete for a championship next year.”
Brockport (14-9-3) moves on in the playoffs, something that has never before been written. With Geneseo defeating Buffalo State, 4-3, in overtime, the Golden Eagles travel to Plattsburgh for the SUNYAC semifinals on Saturday. And with Sheridan in net, Brockport will be looking to continue making school history.