In a wild end-to-end, failed breakaways, goalpost smacking overtime, Ryan Craig finally scored at 17:47 to give Plattsburgh a 3-2 SUNYAC semifinal victory over Geneseo, silencing the stunned home crowd.
“Working hard down low, then my linemate, Nick Jensen, was caught from behind and threw it to me,” 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 head 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.”
“A great hockey game,” Geneseo head coach Chris Schultz said. “Probably a game I’m going to remember for a while. Up and down the ice. Both teams had their chances to win it. They hit a couple of pipes. [Cory] Gershon came up with a bunch of nice saves. We did the same thing at the other end. [Josh] Leis came up with a couple of huge ones. We could have made this place erupt two or three times in overtime.”
Dylan Clarke had two breakaways for Plattsburgh in the extra period. The second one he shot wide, but the first one produced perhaps the save of the year in the SUNYAC. After Gershon made the initial save, Kyle Kudroch followed up the rebound with a shot. Gershon, out of balance stopped it. Then, Kudroch shot again. This time, Gershon was on the ice. Somehow, he got up enough to stop that one while falling backwards
“I don’t know how Kudroch didn’t get in on that rebound,” Emery said.
Later in overtime, Clarke smacked the goal post.
For Geneseo, they hit a crossbar with Leis out of position. Other times, it appeared they had Leis beat, but in perhaps his best career game, Leis turned away every shot.
“Come this time of year, you’re only as good as your goalie,” Emery said. “Josh is a really good goalie. His problem is being aggressive. Sometimes he loses his focus. But if he sees the puck and is on his game, he’s pretty quick and pretty athletic.”
“He held his ground,” Schultz said. “I think he proved he’s a very, very good goaltender in this league.”
Leis wound up with 37 saves. Gershon stopped 34 shots.
The game got to overtime when Geneseo tied it with 1:09 left in the third period with their goalie pulled for the extra attacker. Jake Yard’s shot was stopped by Leis, but he left the rebound right in front of him. Leis was unable to quickly cover it, and Ryan Bulach whacked it home.
“Kind of like Plattsburgh, our goals are usually not pretty,” Schultz said. They are just throw pucks at the pads and try to get the rebound. Plattsburgh, defensively, they really migrate to the puck, so we have to change our point of attack. The main objective is to work the puck behind the net and try a wraparound or try to find loose sticks in front. That’s exactly what happened. It was a garbage goal, but that’s the way we score. That’s the way we’ve been all year and that’s the reason we’ve had success this year.”
Plattsburgh took their first lead of the game at 5:36 of the final period on the power play. Dylan Clarke went to center the puck, but it wound up deflecting off a defender’s skate into the net, leaving Gershon perplexed.
Geneseo scored the first goal of the game with 56 seconds left in the first period on the power play. The Ice Knights did a good job controlling the puck when Colin de Jersey made a point to point pass to Danny Scagnelli on the left side. Scagnelli ripped off a shot that sailed into the far upper corner.
After committing the penalty which led to Geneseo’s goal, Vick Schlueter redeemed himself by tying the game at 6:33 of the second period. After a lot of action over the loose puck in front of the net, Schlueter finally managed to knock it in.
In the final seconds of regulation, Gershon made a save, but unbeknownst to him, the puck was loose next to him. However, Plattsburgh was unable to get to it in time, and Geneseo cleared the puck away, allowing the game to go to the wild overtime.
“I want to give a lot of credit to the coaching staff and players from Geneseo,” Emery said. “They just played hard. They are lot like our team. They don’t have a lot of 25-goal scorers. They are a good defensive team. The difference in our game was conditioning. We were able to play four lines and six defensemen. I think our depth showed tonight.”
Geneseo (16-8-2) has an almost nonexistent chance at an NCAA Pool C bid, so most probably their season is over.
Plattsburgh (19-7-1), thanks to Fredonia’s shocking 2-1 overtime victory over Oswego, gets to host the SUNYAC Championship next Saturday against the Blue Devils.