GENESEO, N.Y. — This time it wasn’t easy. But the results were the same.
Geneseo continued its streak on the strength of once again only letting up one goal in a playoff game, defeating Williams 2-1 on Saturday in the NCAA quarterfinal round.
This time, it wasn’t the star power of the first line that helped Geneseo to victory. Nor the second line or even the third line. It was the fourth line of Arthur Gordon, Rj Burns and Brodie Tutton that wrecked havoc for Williams with its left winger, Gordon, scoring both goals.
“I think our best line had a rough night tonight,” Geneseo coach Chris Schultz said. “I think [Anthony] Marra, [Stephen] Collins and [Trevor] Hills struggled to get anything going. When that’s happened all year long, we’ve had secondary scoring. And those guys came through. Gordon scored a couple of good goals. At that point, that’s all we needed to finish it.”
“Yeah, it’s the fourth line, and we don’t get much ice time,” Tutton said. “You just have to take advantage of the ice time we have been getting. We were just dumping the puck and working hard as our fourth line has been doing all the time. It just happened tonight we got a few bounces that went our way and things ended up working out for us.”
Both goals came in the first period at 10:11 and 17:57.
The first epitomized the fourth line effort — pure hustle. They swarmed over the Williams defense, won the battle behind the net, Burns passed it in front to the slot, where a wide-open Gordon roofed it.
“The goalie didn’t see it coming,” Gordon said. “I think he thought it was going to go the other way. But Burnsie made a great pass from behind his back. Then I just found an open spot and put it there.”
“I saw him [Gordon],” Burns said. “I think it was a good play by Tutts with a good pass back. We built a good amount of chemistry all week, so we know where we are when we’re out there.”
The second goal was reminiscent of what one of their first liners would do — using speed, Gordon came straight down the middle, switched to his backhand and slid it through the five-hole.
“I got a nice pass from Brodie,” Gordon said. “I think the D-man stepped up, and that’s when I had a little jump on him and lucky enough to finish it. I saw the goalie open up.”
The Ephs had two power-play chances in the final period, and just seconds after the last one, they finally put one by Devin McDonald at 10:46. Luke Stickel found an open Colby Cretella in the slot, who quickly beat McDonald with the shot.
“We were going into that power play, and we knew it was a great opportunity for us,” Cretella said. “We were able to keep the puck alive. A great pass from Stickel out of the corner. I just tried to release it quickly.”
Williams continued the pressure, outshooting Geneseo in the third period 15-6. However, McDonald, along with strong support from his defense and a little bit of luck in the final seconds when Williams pulled its goalie, didn’t let another one in.
“He made a number of big saves to preserve the win,” Schultz said. “I thought it was a well-played game on both sides. We were just fortunate to get a couple of breaks in the first period. It was a matter of playing good D after we got that two-goal lead.”
“I want to congratulate Geneseo, Coach Schultz, staff and team,” Williams coach Bill Kangas said. “They have an incredible run. I thought our guys got better after the first period. We had some opportunities in the second, and I thought in the third we played some exceptional hockey.”
Williams ended its season at 19-6-2.
“I’m incredibly proud of my team,” Kangas said. “They set a school record for wins with 19. First time we won the league championship. A lot of firsts for us. First time in the national tournament. A tribute to our seniors, our captains. A great group to coach every day. What a great year we had.”
Geneseo (20-4-6) goes onto the Division III championship weekend where it will face Wisconsin-Stevens Point on Friday in the semifinal round.
Geneseo made it this far two years ago when the championship weekend was in Lewiston, Maine. This time, it is once again in Lake Placid, N.Y., a place where hockey achievements are talked about forever.
“I can’t wait,” Schultz said.