Bears' playoff hopes dashed in 4-3 heartbreaker to Oswego


With the playoff race coming down to the wire and precious conference points on the line Friday night at Maxcy Ice Arena, the SUNY Potsdam men's hockey team fought hard but were bitten by a costly span of 45 seconds late in the second period as the Bears lost a 4-3 heartbreaker against SUNY Oswego.

With Brockport defeating SUNY Fredonia 4-1 earlier in the evening, the Potsdam loss officially eliminated the Bears from playoff contention.  Potsdam has 10 conference points while Brockport and Fredonia each have 13 conference points apiece.  All three teams have one game remaining in their regular season with their finales coming on Saturday.

Potsdam (9-13-2, 4-9-2 SUNYAC) had led 2-1 after the first intermission, but lost their lead on a goal by the Lakers' leading scorer and freshman forward Matt Galati (Toronto, Ontario / St. Michael's Buzzers) just 36 seconds into the second period.

With the game knotted at 2-2, Oswego junior Mike Montagna (Fulton, N.Y. / Vermont) gave the Lakers its first lead of the game with 3:05 remaining in the second period.  Galati struck again just 45 seconds later on a slap shot for his 20th goal of the season from just inside the circle to make it 4-2.

The Bears made it interesting for the closing minutes when senior captain Mike Arnold (Didsbury, Alberta / Kingston Voyageurs) put it in the net for his 16th goal of the season on assists from Nick Avgerinos (Bolton, Ontario / Georgetown Raiders) and Vinny Caligiuri (Shoreham, N.Y. / Hartford Wolfpack).

Potsdam proceeded to pull goaltender Jon Hall (Dexter, N.Y. / Stouffville Spirit) with 1:05 left to give them a man advantage and last desperation chance to score.  The Bears got a couple looks on goal, but both shots were saved by Lakers' goaltender Matt Zawadski (9-2-2), who finished with 31 saves.

Hall (3-4-2), who had been 3-0-2 in his previous five starts, finished with 28 saves.

Potsdam took advantage of a pair of early power play opportunities in the first period, making good on both on goals from sophomore Billy Pascalli (Deer Park, N.Y. / New York Bobcats) and Arnold.  Pascalli is second on the team with nine goals and third on the team in points with 17.

The Bears were 2-of-4 on power play opportunities and outshot the Lakers 34-32 on the night.  Oswego was 1-of-5 on the power play.

Oswego (16-6-2, 9-5-1 SUNYAC) was able to clinch the third seed in the SUNYAC playoffs by virtue of their win combined with Buffalo State's 3-2 overtime loss to SUNY Geneseo on Friday night.

Potsdam will hold its senior day Saturday at 7 p.m. against SUNY Cortland.

Bears seniors include Kevin Carpenter (Ann Arbor, Mich. / New Mexico Mustangs), Ryan Miller (Didsbury, Alberta / Arizona State Sun Devils), Arnold, Avgerinos , Adam Place (Scarborough, Ontario / Bowmanville Eagles) and Shane Talarico (Greensburg, Pa. / Elmira College).