Fredonia was not going to be denied in its sixth annual Pink the Rink event, despite a slow start and falling behind after the first period, 1-0. Thanks to an early second period timeout, the Blue Devils came roaring back, scoring three unanswered goals en route to a 5-2 victory over Morrisville.
“We had gotten caught out there on a real long shift,” Fredonia coach Jeff Meredith said of the early second period timeout. “I thought we were gassed at that point. It was going to be a pretty close hockey game all night. Let’s be smart about it and take our timeout and get five fresh guys out there.”
It proved to be the turning point of the game. Immediately after play resumed, Fredonia had a quick full-length rush, which resulted in first a two-on-one and then a three-on-one. Billy Sanborn passed it across to Ben Waldman, who dropped it for Will McLaughlin at the top of the slot. McLaughlin one-timed it straight in at 2:11.
“I’d like to take credit for that, but I had nothing to do with it,” Meredith said. “I thought that line, Sanborn, Waldman, and McLaughlin, didn’t seem to have the pressure on them so they made simple plays.”
“We were anticipating they were trying to get a rest,” Morrisville coach Brian Grady said. “We had a play set there, but their wing freed the zone and they were able to get it up to him. And we were caught out a little bit. I’m sure Jeff would say he drew it up that way. They were opportunistic.”
Fredonia continued to buzz around the net, just missing on multiple opportunities. It took a while for Fredonia to get the go-ahead goal, but it finally came on its second power play of the night at 12:17. Mat Hehr’s shot from the top of the right circle produced a rebound at the far post. Brian Doust was there to whack it in.
The Blue Devils made it 3-1 at 18:51 on another power play. Alex Perkins got the backdoor goal after a pass from Hehr.
Morrisville got a power-play goal of its own at 6:33 of the final period to cut the lead to 3-2. Curtis Renaud tipped in a right point shot by Tom Longland.
However, any comeback attempt by the Mustangs was quickly thwarted 46 seconds later. Bryan Ross went in on a clear breakaway. Skating in slowly, he wound up firing the puck over the glove into the upper corner.
“Going up 3-1, I thought it was big,” Meredith said. “And then scoring the fourth right after they got the second to go up by two was a huge turning point. We didn’t have to play up by one for very long.”
Waldman finished the game on an unassisted empty-net goal with a minute to go.
The first period was played at a quick, flowing pace. After Morrisville was snubbed twice on the power play, the Mustangs broke the ice with the teams skating at full strength.
The goal was a result of fundamental play-making. It was shot in from the left point looking for the rebound, and there was a scramble for the loose puck. Renaud was able to pounce on it at 14:19.
“It was a hard-played game,” Grady said. “It was a very evenly-played first period. The second period was a special teams contest. They got a couple of bounces. Credit them. That’s what it came down to — two power-play goals and a goal off a face off and breakaway at the end.”
As is traditional with the Pink the Rink event, after the game the players lined up at center ice to literally take the shirts off their backs and present them to the donors. The jerseys, purchased beforehand, had the names of the donors’ choice — relatives, friends, loved ones — to honor and remember those affected by cancer.
“It was probably our best ever,” Meredith said. “There are so many amazing stories. People who persevered, battled. Families who worked through many, many difficult things. It was such a great success. It all comes together in one night, but it all gets put together over the course of the year and finally see it culminate in one evening and then to win the hockey game.”
Morrisville (2-8-1, 3-15-1) travels to Buffalo State Saturday.
Fredonia (5-3-3, 10-6-3), which is now 3-2-1 in Pink the Rink games, has the rest of the weekend off before heading up to the North Country for games against Plattsburgh and Potsdam.