Just 0:00.2 seconds remained on the clock in overtime when the puck squirted across the Potsdam goal line in a mad scramble in the crease. Captain Jamie Nelson gave Morrisville the 5-4 victory with the buzzer beater.
“I thought we started off a little rocky, but the guys battled hard, and obviously battled down to the last second, literally,” Morrisville coach Kevin Krogol said. “Our guys put all of it into tonight.”
“They [Morrisville] kept working,” Potsdam coach Chris Bernard said. “They got pucks to our net. And in the end, they found a way to get one more than we did.”
The first time this season Potsdam and Morrisville got together up in the North Country, they combined for 14 goals. The second meeting in Morrisville picked up where the first game left off. Goals came quickly and often, before the scoring pace finally slowed down.
“We try to play fast and try to go north with the puck and create some odd-man rushes,” Bernard said.
“The game we played earlier in the year was back and forth, back and forth,” Krogol said. “It’s two teams that put a lot of pucks on net and are very aggressive around the net. When you are throwing everything on net, you are bound to get some goals.”
The scoring started early, as Potsdam scored at 1:24. Billy Pascalli passed it out from the corner to Kenny Simon, who was all alone in the slot. Simon had plenty of time to pick his corner, as he sent a wrister over Chris Azzano’s left shoulder.
Ten minutes later, Morrisville tied it up on its first power play on a slap shot from the left point by Anthony Scornaienchi.
Four minutes later, the Mustangs had the lead on an impossible angle shot taken from the goal line which deflected off Austin Keiser’s pads. The fans never saw it go in, and didn’t cheer until the music started.
The Bears were now playing catch up, needing only two minutes to tie it up. Zach Blake scored on a shot from the left side which found its way in through a crowd.
The scoring didn’t stop in the second period. In fact, it came even quicker — just 19 seconds when Zach Bayer gave Morrisville the lead again off a crisp pass from Nelson.
At the two-minute mark, the game was tied up again with Potsdam’s only power-play goal of the night. Erick Ware scored with bodies falling in the crease.
Scoring abated for a while until Potsdam retook the lead with less than two minutes left in the period. Adam Place took advantage of a turnover in close to tuck it into the near side for a 4-3 lead.
Coming out in the third, Morrisville switched goaltenders, putting in Jakob Rassmusen for starter Chris Azzano.
“It was to put a spark in the team,” Krogol said. “It was a rallying point to see if we could spark a little life. It worked.”
Initially, the scoring kept going in the third period. At 3:15, Morrisville tied the game on its own tuck in from in close, with Steve Dol doing the honors.
Uncharacteristically, the scoring stopped for the rest of the period, forcing overtime. The deciding factor in the extra period was when Potsdam’s Simon committed an open-ice major penalty with a hit to the head at 1:44, leaving Matt Beer woozy. The long power play setup the last tenths-of-a-second goal by the captain.
Tonight’s game was Morrisville’s charity game. This year, Nelson selected Autism Speaks and The Kelberman Center, Inc. Nelson’s cousin has a non-verbal form of autism, and Morrisville’s assistant coach Ted Fauss has two nephews with autism who are mainstreamed into school.
A better script could not have been written when Nelson scored the game-winner.
“He’s done an amazing job,” Krogol said. “I don’t think anyone realizes the time and effort he put into this one. It hits close to home. He’s got his cousin out here. He had him out for the ceremonial puck drop. He spent countless hours putting this together. For him to cap it off here, it’s special for him, I’m sure. You couldn’t pick a better person to do it.”
The special jerseys for the game, which were auctioned off, consisted of the autistic symbol of jigsaw puzzle pieces. The multi-color design wrapped around the bottom of the jersey and down the backside of the sleeves. It made for one of the most interesting and eye-pleasing of the special charity jerseys seen over the years in college hockey.