POTSDAM, N.Y. – The SUNY Potsdam men’s hockey team fell behind early but recovered with three unanswered goals, defeating Morrisville 4-2 in a State University of New York Athletic Conference contest Friday night at Maxcy Ice Arena.
The Bears (2-2 overall, 2-2 SUNYAC) were sharp in their 2010-11 home opener, controlling action for the majority of the game while handing the Mustangs their first conference loss of the year.
“The guys were willing to pay the price to get a victory against a good club,” Potsdam coach Chris Bernard said. “If you look at the number of shots we blocked in the third period … we were trying to play ugly hockey to get a win, and that’s a step forward for our program.”
Just under five minutes into the period, freshman Mike Arnold (Didsbury, Alberta) scored what proved to be the game-winning goal, taking the puck around the net to an opening for the unassisted score. It was the second power play goal of the contest for Potsdam, which held Morrisville (2-2, 2-1) to 2-for-8 with the advantage.
Senior captain Fraser Smith (Fonthill, Ontario) added to the Potsdam lead at the 11:56 mark of the third period, taking a pass from freshman Mike Purcell (Pickering, Ontario), maneuvering around a defender at the blue line and scoring easily on the breakaway.
After the Mustangs cut the score to 3-2 with just under three minutest to play, junior Sy Nutkevitch (Montreal, Quebec) buried an empty-net goal to ice the game with 17 seconds remaining. Sophomore Brett Waters (Uxbridge, Ontario) was credited with an assist on the play.
Junior Trevor O’Neill (Bobcaygeon, Ontario) registered 30 saves in the win, staving off a late Morrisville rally in the third
“O’Neill was tremendous, bar none,” Bernard said. “Not only did he come up with some very athletic and acrobatic-type stops, but they were critical at the time they occurred in the game.”
After Morrisville found the net just over eight minutes into the game, the Bears evened the score at 1-1 on a power play with 8:28 remaining in the first period when Nutkevitch found a wide-open Todd Hosmer (Toronto, Ontario) at the far post. Senior Colin MacLennan (Whitby, Ontario) also picked up an assist on the play.
Prior to the contest, the Bears honored former teammate Antony Proteau, who passed away after a battle with cancer last November after playing one season with the Bears. In his honor, the team will conduct the Bears Stick It To Cancer initiative for the remainder of the season, hoping to raise funds for cancer research.
“We’ve talked all year about effort and commitment being your legacy,” Bernard said. “I think to try and honor Antony, we knew we had a chance to come out and compete tonight, and seize the moment and the opportunity. It’s a precious thing.”
Potsdam resumes its eight-game home stand next Friday, Nov. 19, against Fredonia. Game time at Maxcy Hall Ice Arena is set for 7 p.m.