Bears men's hockey grinds out 3-2 victory over No. 13 Bengals
Sunday, February 11, 2018 - 8:29 am

POTSDAM, N.Y.—Junior forward Ben Mariano (Harrisburg, Pa./Hartford Wolfpack) ripped a shot into the top right corner of the net to give the SUNY Potsdam men's hockey team (9-9-5, 5-7-2 SUNAYC) a 3-2 win over No. 13 Buffalo State (16-6-3, 9-4-3) on Saturday night. Sophomore forward Vinny Guimond (Sorel-Tracy, Quebec/Gloucester Rangers) and sophomore defenseman Sean Winikates (Phoenix, Ariz./Philadelphia Jr. Flyers) also scored for the Bears.

Potsdam came out with good pressure early and even killed off a penalty without allowing a shot on goal. However, it was the Bengals striking first at 7:36. Sophomore forward Ben Butcher (Bellingham, Wash./Vernon Vipers) finished a give-and-go from fellow sophomore forward Hugo Petit (Chelsea, Quebec/Gatineau Flames) for a 1-0 lead. The Bears answered 5:07 later. A Buffalo State defenseman fell down in front of his own net and coughed up the puck on a breakout. Senior forward Jake Martin (Montreal, Quebec/Concordia) picked it up and fed Guimond at the left side of the net and he shoveled it past senior goalie Ian Sylves (Sloan, N.Y./Caldonia Corvairs) to tie the score. Potsdam kept the Bengals on their heels after the goal, finishing with a 12-5 advantage in shots, but weren't able to add to the lead.

Buffalo State was finally able to sustain pressure on Potsdam's defense in the early going of the second period and broke through at the 4:17 mark. Bengals sophomore forward Zach Remers (Clarence, N.Y./Wilkes-Barre-Scranton Knights) lost the puck in the slot, but senior forward Zach Nieminen (Agax, Ontario/Ancaster Avalanche) was trailing and knocked the puck between the pads of Potsdam senior goalie Brendan McMenimen (Merrimack, Mass./Islanders Hockey Club) to make it 2-1. After slowing down Buffalo State's momentum, the Bears created a late flurry of their own. At 17:07, after putting in a tremendous effort around the Bengals goal, sophomore forward Bryce Ferrell (Buffalo, N.Y./Buffalo Jr. Sabres) regained possession and sent a pass to Winikates at the point. The defenseman fired through the crowd and into the back of the net. Approximately two minutes later, Ferrell hustled back on defense to break up a 2-on-1 at the last second and prevent another goal. McMenimen made nine saves in the second period.

The Bears outworked and outshot Buffalo State in the third period. Potsdam fired 11 times on Sylves, while only giving up three shots on goal. McMenimen and his defense slammed the door and the offense came through. With just over two minutes left, senior captain Kyle Thacker (Missisauga, Ontario/North York Rangers) blocked a shot with his ankle into the left corner. Freshman defenseman Jon Venter (Guilford, Conn./Syracuse Stars) picked up the puck and sent it ahead to Mariano. The junior skated it into the offensive zone and wristed a shot over Sylves left shoulder and under the crossbar for the game-winner. The Bengals were forced to pull Sylves with 1:20 remaining, but were unable to threaten again.

McMenimen needed just 16 saves to record his 18th career victory. He is now tied for fifth on the program's wins list with Randy Brown '82 and Andy Eckert '93. Sylves finished with 29 stops.

Potsdam outshot Buffalo State 32-18. The Bengals were 0-for-1 on the power play and didn't allow the Bears a single man advantage on the night .

With the win, Potsdam moves into a tie for fourth place with Plattsburgh with two games to play. Fredonia and Brockport are tied for sixth, just a point behind and Cortland is still alive three points back.

After the victory, the Bears honored McMenimen, Martin, Thacker, Joey Gilhooly (Brooklyn, N.Y./New York Bobcats), Dylan Vander Esch (San Jose, Calif./Hartford Wolfpack) and assistant captain Sean Kacerosky (Kendall Park, N.J./New York Bobcats) for their careers on Senior Night.

The Bears head to Central New York next weekend. With a playoff spot on the line, they travel to SUNYAC-leading Oswego on Friday at 7 p.m. and then wrap up the regular season at Cortland on Saturday at the same time.