Geneseo’s ability to score on the power play while Cortland failed to do so on numerous opportunities enabled the Ice Knights to defeat Cortland, 4-1, in the final game of the SUNYAC Challenge. The predetermined schedule tournament named a champion, and that was Geneseo thanks to its 2-0 record.
“It’s a great start to the season,” Geneseo coach Chris Schultz said. “I think we put together six periods of very decent hockey. We were very sound defensively.”
Geneseo went three for 11 on the power play. Cortland, despite scoring a shorthanded goal, failed to score a man advantage tally in six attempts. However, the stats are worse than just the official number of power-play opportunities.
Cortland had a two-man advantage for a minute-and-a-half in the second period, but did not convert. In the third period, Geneseo’s Phil Rose was called for a five-minute major and game misconduct for hitting from behind. Near the end of that major, Geneseo was called for too many men on the ice. Yet, despite nearly seven consecutive minutes of power play, the Red Dragons came up empty.
“I’m really proud of our penalty-killing unit,” Schultz said.
“We weren’t us,” Cortland coach Joe Baldarotta said about his team’s failure to score a power-play goal. “You’ve got to move your feet. You’ve got to make plays, move the box. We weren’t doing that. We just passed the puck around the box. They were coming at us. We weren’t getting it inside. We weren’t playing our game.”
To add insult to injury, soon afterwards, Cortland got called for two minors. Geneseo did convert on its two-man advantage to put the game away.
“Our power play is getting there,” Schultz said. “It’s going to be a very creative power play.”
After a scoreless first period, the teams erupted for four goals in the middle stanza. Geneseo broke the ice first on a picture-perfect deflection. Chris Kestell fired a shot from the right point, and Dan Brown tipped it high over the goalie’s shoulder at 1:42.
Cortland tied the game on a shorthanded goal at 7:57. Geneseo’s defense got lazy, and Ryan Markell was able to get in close and sneak the puck past Pasemko.
Geneseo appeared to get fired up after letting up the shorthanded goal, and on the same power play retook the lead at 8:21. Jonathan Redlick on the left side received a pass from Stefan Decosse. Redlick one-timed a bullet upper shelf that Mike Reilly had no chance at.
“The turning point of the game I think was when we scored a shorty and then they scored the next goal on the next shift just like that,” Baldarotta said. “That really hurt us.”
“As a team, we worked on staying positive,” Schultz said. “When they scored that shorty, we could easily have gotten down. But, we came right back. That’s the most important thing — mental toughness.”
Another power play for the Ice Knights produced another power-play goal at 18:10 to make it 3-1. Redlick scored again when he one-timed a shot from the slot through the five-hole of Reilly. Kevin Galan was the player who fed Redlick this time.
Brown scored his second of the night to put the game away at 17:25 of the third with a two-man advantage. He was all alone deep on the left side after receiving a long cross-ice pass from Sebastian Panetta. He had no trouble one-timing it into the open side of the net.
Jeff Pasemko got the win with 21 saves.
For the second night in a row, Cortland played three different goalies, one in each period. Dan Jewell led off, shutting out Geneseo in the first with six saves. Mike Reilly made four saves in the second period and got the loss, while Mike Mistretta wrapped things up with 11 saves.
“It’s an interesting concept,” Baldarotta admitted. “The goaltender’s job is to win. Everyone thinks it’s to stop the puck, but it’s not. It’s actually to win. What we’re trying to do is to get our goaltenders to think about winning one period at a time.”
Cortland fell to 1-1 and next plays in 10 days at Hobart, while Geneseo takes its 2-0 record back home to play a pair of games against Neumann.