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GENESEO, N.Y. — Geneseo found itself down 2-0 to Buffalo State with 10:55 left in regulation. At 1:35 into overtime, Geneseo scored the winning goal for a 3-2 victory, its fifth in a row. Most importantly, the win kept Geneseo in first place, thanks to having the tiebreaker advantage over Plattsburgh, with one game left in the season.
“From a result perspective, I’m ecstatic,” Geneseo coach Chris Schultz said. “We put ourselves in a position to win the league. But from doing the right thing for 60 minutes, I’m not happy at all with the game. We made a lot of mistakes. We didn’t have energy for the full 60, that’s for sure. We took some penalties in the first which took away from our game plan. But, we found a way to win, so we can’t be too disappointed.”
The comeback started with a power-play goal by David Ripple. Zachary Vit’s shot from the high slot area went wide, bouncing off the boards directly to the stick of Ripple standing off to the right of the net. Ripple one-timed it short side past Kevin Carr for the Ice Knights’ first tally.
A boarding call on Charles Lapierre late in the period gave Geneseo another opportunity. After a timeout, Geneseo capitalized on it thanks to an excellent play away from the puck. Justin Scharfe got himself lost in the corner while Jack Caradonna controlled the puck on the opposite faceoff circle. Scharfe then moved toward the net, sitting at the backdoor unmarked. Caradonna saw him and fed him with a picture-perfect pass; all Scharfe had to do was redirect it into the open near side to tie it with 1:39 left.
Onto overtime, where the winning goal started out with an innocent-looking rush.
“It was an even man rush,” Schultz said. “Stephen [Collins] carried the puck over the blue line. One of our D-men drove the net and took the goalie’s eyes away and it was just a seeing-eye shot from Stephen.”
The puck beat Carr far side.
“Typical SUNYAC game, back and forth,” Buffalo State coach Nick Carriere said. “We got fortunate with the bounces on the first goal. The second goal we executed well on. We had a bunch of chances on the PP; we didn’t get the bounces there. It was a tough call at the end of the game. They got fortunate in overtime; the puck went off the skate in overtime and found some twine.”
After a scoreless first period which saw Geneseo hit the iron twice, the Bengals broke the ice at 7:26 of the second period. Mac Balson scored an unassisted goal, crashing the net to the full literal meaning. Just after his shot went in, the net was taken off its moorings with a player flying through the crease.
The next Buffalo State goal at 10:27 was much prettier and was also unassisted. Taylor Pryce rushed down the right side, cut across the middle, and finally put a backhander past Nick Horrigan.
“Prycer is a very power skater,” Carriere said. “Not only when he hits guys but when he gets a puck on his stick. He beats a lot of guys wide. He has a lot of patience. He took that around on his forehand and then waited and waited and waited and was able to go backhand into the empty net. He’s scored some big goals for us.”
Horrigan made 27 saves for the win, while Carr stopped 40 shots to keep his team in it till halfway through the final period.
The result, along with other games around the league, has the hosts for the play-in round on Wednesday settled. Oswego clinched third place and will host either Brockport or Fredonia as Potsdam was eliminated. Buffalo State will be home the same night against one of those teams, as Brockport and Fredonia are tied for fifth place, with Brockport holding the tiebreaker thanks to a 1-0-1 head-to-head record.
Buffalo State (6-5-4, 9-10-5) can have some say in the matter as it travels to Brockport tomorrow. Meanwhile, Fredonia plays at Geneseo (13-2-0, 19-5-0) as the Ice Knights need a win to clinch the regular season championship for the first time since 1991.
“We really have to push tomorrow for the number one spot because I don’t want to go to Plattsburgh,” Schultz said. “Tomorrow’s game is for the pinnacle of the regular season.”