Bears slay Red Dragons, return to SUNYAC Playoffs
MASSENA, N.Y.—On Senior Night, senior captain Brett Waters scored the decisive goal in the SUNY Potsdam men's hockey team's (9-15-1, 6-10 SUNYAC) playoff clinching 2-1 victory over SUNY Cortland (7-15-1, 3-11-2) at Massena Arena on Saturday night. Sophomore forward Ryan Miller scored the other goal for the Bears and freshman goalie Austin Keiser (Dunwoody, Ga./Boston Bulldogs) earned his fifth career win with 29 saves.
Potsdam controlled the play in the first period, outshooting the Red Dragons 12-6. The Bears finally broke through at the 6:35 mark. Sophomore forward Dan McCamey attempted to center the puck, but it was deflected perfectly onto the stick of the trailing Miller. Miller grazed the crossbar with a high shot that beat Cortland junior goalie Lyle Rocker over his right shoulder. Freshman forward Matt Thompson recorded the second assist. The score remained the same into the first break.
The teams continued to play a tightly contested game throughout the second period. Both teams had their chances, but struggled to score. Nearly five minutes into the period, Rocker robbed Bears junior forward Adam Place on a shot from the slot. Five minutes later, Keiser returned the favor on a shot from Red Dragon sophomore defenseman Jeff Vanzant. At the 4:00 minute mark, Cortland junior forward Adam Bevilacqua missed a wide open net after a pretty passing play on the power play. At 18:08, Red Dragon senior forward Mike Lysyj made the Bears pay for a turnover with shorthanded breakaway goal to tie the score.
Waters struck just 3:14 into the final 20 minutes. He fired a shot from the right point that beat a screened Rocker five-hole. Sophomore defenseman Erick Ware and sophomore forward Ken Simon each assisted on the goal. Cortland responded with intense pressure late and the Bears struggled to clear the zone. Keiser came up with several key saves in the closing minutes. With 55 seconds left, Rocker was pulled for an extra attacker. He reentered the game with 15 seconds left for a neutral zone faceoff and never got another chance to get to the bench.
Rocker finished with 28 saves. Both teams were 0-3 on the power play. Potsdam finishes with a season sweep of Cortland for the first time in three seasons and is now 53-28-1 against the Red Dragons all-time.
Before the game, two year-old Claire Nezezon of Norwood, N.Y. dropped the first puck to help raise awareness of cystic fibrosis. Nezezon is battling the disease.
The Bears finish the season as the sixth seed in the SUNYAC playoffs and will travel to third seeded Geneseo for the first round on Wednesday night. The faceoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.