The Geneseo Ice Knights traveled to SUNY Plattsburgh and SUNY Potsdam in control of their own destiny with a two-point lead over the Plattsburgh Cardinals for second place in SUNYAC.
That lead is no more after the Cardinals and Potsdam Bears beat Geneseo on back-to-back nights. Geneseo holds third place, but missed its chance for a first-round bye.
Plattsburgh topped the Ice Knights on Feb. 8, beating a Geneseo team that had won 12 of its past 14. The 6-1 drubbing was the flattest the Ice Knights looked in months.
Cardinals’ first-year Luke Baleshta’s sharp-angled shot from the left corner deflected off of Geneseo goaltender sophomore Bryan Haude’s left pad and stalled in the crease. First-year Kevin Emmerling won the race to the loose rebound and slammed it in his 11th goal in 19 career games.
Geneseo drew even exactly nine minutes later when its fourth line – arguably the most effective – capitalized on a three-on-one rush. First-year AJ Sgaraglio fired a wrist shot from the top of the left circle to score his second of the season. That was as close as the Ice Knights came the rest of the night.
Senior Jared Docking’s power-play goal with two minutes, 29 seconds left in the first was a carbon copy of Plattsburgh’s first goal, but this time with the corner shot coming from Emmerling. The Ice Knights trailed 2-1 after the first.
Sophomore Michael Cassidy scored for the Cardinals in the second period – his first of two goals – and then the Cardinals added three more in the third. The back-breaker was a short-handed goal by sophomore Alex Jensen. Jensen scooped up the puck off a faceoff in his own zone, sped through the neutral zone and around junior Zachary Vit and drove to the net to slide the puck through Haude just nine seconds into the power play.
The Ice Knights were 0-4 on the power play, while giving up the shorthanded goal along with three power-play goals to the Cardinals.
“Special teams wins and loses games in this conference,” assistant coach Kris Heeres said. “Tonight we got outworked, we didn’t execute and, moving forward, it’s about how we respond.”
In Potsdam the following night, the Ice Knights power play nearly saved them.
Geneseo trailed 3-1 in the last three minutes, beaten several times in transition throughout the night. The Bears had three goals off odd-man rushes.
The Ice Knights went on the power play and Vit found senior Ryan Bulach open at the left faceoff circle. His one-timer pulled the Ice Knights within one. It was Bulach’s seventh power-play goal of the year.
Thirty-seven seconds later, Bulach found a loose puck in the crease for his second goal to send the game to overtime. Overtime would last only 40 seconds.
On the first shift, Geneseo got consecutive scoring chances from all three forwards, Vit, junior Carson Schell and first-year Tyler Brickler. The missed chances drew all five Geneseo players deep, including senior defenseman Colin de Jersey and sophomore Jack Caradonna. Potsdam’s junior Kevin Carpenter found the loose puck and flipped it to the neutral zone, sending sophomore Ken Simon in on a breakaway to win it for the Bears.
After rolling for nearly three months, the Ice Knights will have one more game to straighten out their troubles before playoffs.
“This is a good lesson for our guys heading into playoffs,” head coach Chris Schultz said. “We need to stick to our game plan or else we’re not going to beat anybody.”
The Ice Knights’ home finale is at 7 p.m. Feb. 16 against Morrisville State College.