Blake lifts Potsdam to OT victory

10.26.12

MASSENA, N.Y.—Sophomore forward Zach Blake scored 2:42 into overtime to lift the SUNY Potsdam men's hockey team (1-0) to a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over Saint Michael's College (0-1). Bears junior assistant captain Mike Arnold had a goal and an assist and freshman goaltender Austin Keiser captured his first collegiate victory.

The pace of the contest was quick from the opening faceoff, with Potsdam holding the edge in play early. However, it was Saint Michael's jumping on the board first with a power-play goal. Senior forward Josh Geary fired a bad angle shot past Keiser at 6:56 mark of the opening period. Potsdam fired 10 first period shots on Purple Knights senior goalie Eric McGuirk, but entered the first intermission trailing 1-0.

Potsdam looked to take advantage several early power plays in the second period, but a turnover in its own zone cost them. At 4:20, senior forward Tim McAuliffe poked the puck off the stick of a Bears defender and roofed it for a shorthanded marker. Potsdam answered just 40 seconds later. Arnold found freshman forward Billy Pascalli at the left side of the net and he beat an out of position McGuirk for his first career goal. Junior defenseman Nick Avgerinos recorded the second assist on the play. Another turnover hurt the Bears at 15:27 as junior forward Ryan Arsenault stole the puck on Saint Michael's blue line and took it the length of the ice to increase the lead to 3-1. Again Potsdam answered quickly, just 52 seconds later. Freshman forward Todd Thomas cut the gap to 3-2 with his first collegiate goal. Freshmen Matt Thompson and Mike Riley each recorded the assists on the goal.

Saint Michael's put good pressure on the Bears to start the final period, but couldn't pad its lead. Keiser stopped 15 shots in the third period to allow Potsdam's offense to even the score. The equalizer came at 12:44, as Riley picked up a Purple Knights' turnover and fed Arnold. It was all Bears after the tally, but McGuirk helped Saint Michael's limp to overtime.

Potsdam continued the pressure until Purple Knight senior defender Morgan Bell was whistled for a hooking call 46 seconds into overtime. On the ensuing power play, the Bears ratcheted their offensive play up another notch. They moved the puck around the Saint Michael's zone with ease until they found sophomore defender Erick Ware at the point. Ware blasted a slap shot that seemed destined for the back of the net, but McGuirk snatched puck out of the air. Seconds later Blake won the contest on the power-play with assists from junior forward Adam Place and senior captain Matt Viola.

In goal, Keiser finished with 29 saves and McGuirk stopped 40 shots. Potsdam outshot the Purple Eagles 44-32 on the night. Saint Michael's was 1-3 on the man-advantage, while the Bears went 1-6. Potsdam is now 8-0 in the all-time series with the Purple Knights.

“Structurally, I thought we were on point with our game,” said Bears Head Coach Chris Bernard. “Austin came up with timely saves that gave us a chance to hang around and it's got to feel good for Blake to make and instant contribution. In Austin, I saw a kid that kept getting better as the game went on. It's a great start for him and something to build on. It was great to see so many of our freshmen play so well in our first game. It's a credit to our upperclassman who've really done all they can to help them get better every day.”

The Bears are back at Massena Arena tomorrow night to open SUNYAC play as they host the Morrisville State Mustangs at 7 p.m.