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BUFFALO, N.Y. — There’s a reason Geneseo’s Stephen Collins was named the SUNYAC Player of the Year.
It wasn’t just the 20 goals and 21 assists in 26 games he had coming into the semifinal matchup at Buffalo State; it’s because great players produce when it matters most.
With the game entering the third period tied 1-1, Collins scored 40 seconds in, then took control of the power play during a major penalty, assisting on two goals to clinch the game.
Geneseo added two empty-net tallies for what turned into a 6-1 route.
“Your horses have to come to play in the playoffs,” Geneseo coach Chris Schultz said. “And they did.”
“The whole team has been playing great together,” Collins said modestly.
“It was a really good effort on our part from puck drop until the end of the game,” Schultz added. “Overall, a good 60-minute game for us.”
“I thought we battled hard for two,” Buffalo State coach Steve Murphy said. “We got into a little bit of penalty trouble in the third and they capitalized.”
Collins got rolling when he took a quick pass from Anthony Marra in the high slot and one-timed a blast glove side.
“A nice pass from Marra,” he said.
Four minutes later, the key moment in the game occurred. Taylor Pryce was called for a major and game disqualification for contact to the head.
A minute later, Collins took advantage of the opportunity, firing a shot in from the left point which ricocheted off David Ripple’s leg, slightly injuring him.
“A shot through a screen; I think it hit Ripple’s leg, I think it hurt him,” Collins said.
The Ice Knights weren’t done with that power play, nor was Collins. He fed Trevor Hills with a perfect pass, allowing Hills to easily finish the play.
“You want to try to get as many as you can (on a major), obviously,” Schultz said. “But, we kind of knew they would try to get offensive on it and try to squeak somebody loose for a breakaway. We did a pretty good job of maintaining possession.”
With nine minutes to go, Murphy pulled his goalie. A.J. Sgaraglio and Arthur Gordon scored into the empty net to seal the victory.
Buffalo State’s Cory Gurski scored in the first. Geneseo’s Ripple scored in the second on the power play.
This set up the Stephen Collins show in the final period.
Buffalo State (15-7-4) ends its season setting a school record for number of wins, securing its first ever bye, and hosting the semifinal round for the first time. They had come into the contest with a six-game winning streak and won nine of their last 10.
“We said in the locker room there’s nothing I’m going to say to make it any better,” Murphy said. “But I’m sure one day, whenever that is, we’ll look back and realize just how successful this year was and get this program to where I think it should be and where it can go.”
Geneseo (17-4-6) moves into the SUNYAC championship game next Saturday against Plattsburgh, which defeated Oswego, 4-3, in yet another overtime victory over the Lakers.