Special teams carry Men’s Hockey over Potsdam in Quarterfinal, 4-3  


Yomira Meregildo/The Record

Senior goalie Ian Sylves made 28 saves in the Bengals’ 4-3 win over Potsdam in the SUNYAC quarterfinals Wednesday

 The nerves of playoffs didn’t seem to have an effect on the SUNY Buffalo State Men’s Hockey team as they held on for a 4-3 victory Wednesday night over the Potsdam Bears in the SUNYAC quarterfinal.

A win off the draw on the power play led to the Bengals first goal of the night. The faceoff was won cleanly in the offensive zone and Zach Nieminen got the puck and fired it over the right arm of the Potsdam goalie in the game’s first few minutes.

It was indicative of how the night would go as four of the night’s seven goals came on special teams and Buffalo State dominated in faceoffs, winning 44 of 78.

Feeling the momentum that carried in from the first period, the Bengals were stunned when the next goal wasn’t in their favor.

A hooking penalty just under five minutes into the second period, led to a power-play goal from Kyle Thacker to tie the game.

But then the resilience of the Bengals came in to play.

Vadim Vasjonkin scored just 47 seconds later, on a weird angled shot from the corner to take back the lead.

Then the Bengals started to pour on the pressure.

A spectacular behind the back stick save by the Potsdam goaltender Brendan McMenimen, kept the game at 2-1.

Another special teams goal came later in the period. During 4 on 4 gameplay, Zach Remers got a 2-on-1 break and fired it in the net, taking a 3-1 lead for the Bengals.

The Bengals came out in the third period and added to their lead. Vasjonkin would get his second goal and third point of the night on a 3-on-2 rush giving his team a 4-1 lead with about 12 minutes to go.

While it was a comfortable lead, the game was far from over.

Another Bengals penalty would lead to a goal for the Bears. Dylan Vander Esch would score his first of 2 goals on a screened shot from the point.

“They’re really good at getting bodies to the net,” Bengals goaltender Ian Sylves said.

Esch had more late game heroics left. He scored a sneaky wrist shot goal, from the hash marks making it 4-3 with 1:50 left in the third period.

As the Bengals sent the puck was rolling toward the empty net it seemed to be over for the Bears, but Esch was there to save the day again. He dove and smacked the puck away before rolling over the goal line, crashing in the net in the process.

With little time left, Buffalo State head coach Steve Murphy reminded his team of what he said before the game.

“Bottom line is, I told the guys leading up to this game, surviving is all you’re trying to do,” Murphy said.

The Bengals battled hard with the Bears as the game was winding down. Sylves stood his ground in net and kept the plethora of shots out.

The Bengals victory celebration will have to be short-lived, because they play the second-seeded Geneseo Knights, in Geneseo Saturday at 7 p.m. in the SUNYAC semifinals.