Wildcats claw past Bears, 2-1

01.17.14

POTSDAM, N.Y.—Johnson & Wales University (12-3) battled with the SUNY Potsdam men's hockey team (6-9) for 60 minutes and escaped Maxcy Ice Arena with a 2-1 victory on Friday night. Sophomore forward Matt Thompson (Anchorage, Alaska/Kenai River Brown Bears) scored for the Bears, while freshman forward Stefan Brucato (Lake Elsinore, Calif./Idaho Steelheads) led J&W with two assists.

The Wildcats diffused an early Potsdam threat and answered with good pressure of its own in the opening period. Johnson & Wales took the first six shots of the contest, but Bears senior goalie Shane Talarico (Greensburg, Pa./Elmira College) handled each one. Potsdam picked up the play after the flurry and created several quality chances of its own, but didn't get on the board in the first period. The Bears killed two power plays to the Wildcats' one and the teams entered the break with a scoreless draw.

Potsdam continued to hold its own early in the middle stanza, but was unable to get on the board. The Bears were awarded a five-minute power play at the 4:31 mark after J&W freshman forward Drew Kariofiles (Cincinnati, Ohio/Topeka Road Runners) was ejected for hitting Potsdam junior forward Trevor Cope (Swartz Creek, Mich/Atlanta Jr. Knights) from behind. The Wildcats killed the major and picked up momentum. At the 12:43 mark, J&W went on the power play for the third time in game and made the most of it. With 25 seconds left on the man advantage, Wildcat sophomore forward Cody Sarmiento (Sarasota, Fla./Jamestown Ironmen) fed freshman defenseman Michael Mazzotta (Mars, Pa./Jamestown Ironmen) at the point and Mazzotta ripped a shot past Talarico for a 1-0 lead. Brucato notched the second assist on the play. J&W continued to control the game after the goal and hit the post before the second period expired.

The Bears were immediately put on the defensive in the second period, taking a boarding penalty just 35 seconds in. After killing the penalty, Potsdam turned up the pressure in the offensive zone, but still struggled to solve Ballmer. Finally at 9:51, Thompson beat Ballmer with a pass from classmate Todd Thomas (Davidsville, Pa./Hartford Wolfpack) to tie the score. The relief was short lived as the Wildcats answered just 23 seconds later. Sophomore forward Josh Obregon (Omaha, Neb./Odessa Jackalopes) scored from the slot on a pass from Brucato for the eventual game-winner. The Bears continued to battle with little luck. Talarico was pulled with 1:09 remaining and Potsdam created a few more chances, but Ballmer slammed the door.

Ballmer finished with 40 saves, while Talarico stopped 26 shots. J&W was 1-4 on the power play and Potsdam went 0-2.

Next, the Bears travel to Geneva, N.Y. to face the Hobart College Statesmen at 7 p.m.