Before Buffalo State hosted Fredonia in the final regular-season game, the most likely SUNYAC first-round playoff scenario was going to be these two teams meeting each other on Wednesday.
The only question was where.
Tonight’s game decided that question.
The playoff game will take place at Buffalo State thanks to its 4-2 victory, enabling the Bengals to maintain fourth place by three points.
“Typical Fredona-Buffalo State game,” Buffalo State coach Nick Carriere said. “I think our guys played well.”
The winning goal came during a five-on-three in the second period. Halfway through the period, Fredonia was called for two simultaneous penalties. After nearly two minutes of a barrage of shots, Buffalo State finally scored on the two-man advantage. Brett Hope from the corner fed Shane Avery, who one-timed it for the 3-2 lead.
“It was huge execution on the five-on-three to get the go-ahead [goal],” Carriere said. “We got the second unit out there and they were able to execute right away on a nice pass to Shaney right up top and a quick one-timer and a goal. It was nice to see our second unit get the goal.”
“The first three kids did an unbelievable job [initially killing the penalty],” Fredonia coach Jeff Meredith said. “We just can’t be in the box.”
Seconds later, Buffalo State thought they scored again, but it was kicked in and ruled no-goal.
On senior night, Matt Bessing clinched the game with a solo end-to-end rush, culminating with a shot from the left side that banked off the far post and in at 11:27 of the final period.
The game started out with Buffalo State dominating play, jumping out to a 2-0 lead. It began at 3:22 with a two-on-one. Mac Balson brought the puck into the zone on the left side, taking the shot himself from the face off circle, beating Mark Friesen on the far side.
Nick Melligan made it 2-0 at 15:10. Cory Gurski from behind the net fed Melligan in the slot where he one-timed a slap shot past Friesen.
“I thought we came out a little flat,” Meredith said. “Give Buffalo State credit, they came out hard. It took us a lot longer to get to that level of play than it should.”
Fredonia got one back while skating four aside at 18:33. After Kevin Carr made a save on a rebound laying on his side, the puck squirted loose again. Matt Owczarczak picked up his own rebound, easily depositing it into the open net.
The Blue Devils tied the game at two 2:08 into the second period on a power play. Quick passing caught Carr out of position resulting in a Jared Wynia blast from the right side finding a huge opening on the near side.
Then came the two minors and a repeat match up in four days.
Carr made 19 saves for the win.
“It looks like we’ll be back here on Wednesday,” Meredith said.
“We get right back to work tomorrow,” added Carriere.