Bengals pull goalie, avoid two losses


Dave DeLuca/The Record

Junior forward Brett Hope leads the Bengals with seven points in four games.

Tony Callens, Staff Writer

Pulling the goalie at the end of the game when a team is down by a goal or two is a strategy that has taken place in hockey since 1939 when Frank Boucher, the then head coach of the New York Rangers, employed this strategy for the very first time.

Sometimes it pays off, other times it does not. This weekend that strategy paid off for Buffalo State’s men’s hockey team. In both matchups with their SUNYAC rivals the Morrisville Mustangs at the Buffalo State Sports Arena, the Bengals were able to capitalize in thrilling fashion, scoring goals in the dying minutes of both games to level the score. Both games ended in draws after neither team could muster a winning tally in the overtime period. The final scores were 4-4 and 5-5.

When asked what makes the team so resilient, Bengals head coach Nick Carriere said jokingly,

“Coaching! No, you know, we’ve got a strong core of leadership,” Carriere said. “Our guys never stop fighting. I think they’ve got a bit of a swagger to them where the feeling on our bench is that no matter how many we’re down by, we can just keep plugging back. Fortunately, we’ve been able to come back the past two nights, but for my heart’s sake, I’d like for us to get a lead and hold a lead going forward.”

In the first game, the Bengals came out flat and had to climb out of a 4-1 hole midway through a fast-paced and high-scoring second period in which the two teams combined for five goals. Morrisville took advantage of rebounds and pushed the pace to build their lead. Sophomore forward Joseph Santino led the way as the Mustangs captain scored two of those goals.

The resilient Bengals never quit, though. Junior forward Brett Hope, the Bengals captain, was able to cut the deficit to 4-2 with 28 seconds left in the second, giving his team momentum heading into the final period.

The intensity only increased from there as the Bengals worked their way back into the game. Their forecheck was relentless and a costly turnover by Morrisville led to sophomore forward Nick Berst assisting on Hope’s second goal of the game. Another part of the comeback effort was the performance of sophomore goaltender Mike DeLaVergne, who shook off a dicey second period performance to post a 37-save effort.


A back-and-forth game ensued for the rest of the third as Buffalo State fought desperately for the equalizing goal. The Mustangs’ freshman goaltender, Steven Dombrosky, showed poise in a 27-save performance of his own. After two Buffalo State penalty kills, they pulled their net minder down 4-3 with 1:28 left in the period and capitalized with 17 seconds to play on a tap-in goal by sophomore forward Jake Rosen. Hope added the assist for a three-point night.

Neither team was able to score in overtime, resulting in a tie. There was one scoring chance for the Bengals that played into the cliché of a game of inches when a Marcus Michalski shot deflected off of a Morrisville defender and glided excruciatingly across the goalmouth and fell to the side.

“A tie?! Who wants a tie?!” yelled out a disappointed fan in the stands as the game came to a close.

In the rematch the next night, the results were almost a mirror image of the previous contest. The difference in this game was the Bengals squandered a big lead. Buffalo State came out fast as the teams traded goals in the first period and went into the intermission with the score 3-2, Bengals.

“We just have to prepare and be physically ready before the puck drop, play a full 60 minutes. You’ve got to play the whole game,” Hope said.

Junior forward Ryan Salkeld led the Bengals in scoring on the night with two goals and an assist. DeLevergne saw less work on a 28-save night while Dombrosky was peppered, making 39 saves.

Salkeld’s second goal came on a power play and gave the Bengals a 4-2 lead, but that’s when Morrisville woke up. The Mustangs scored three unanswered goals to take a late lead at the beginning of the third period. They were 3 for 4 on the power play against a struggling Bengals penalty kill.

“We’ve got to work on it (the penalty kill), you know,” Carriere said. “I think they did some good things where they were kind of moving around, changing lanes with the puck, without the puck, and we talked about that in between periods with our guys. They executed on a nice one-time goal.

“You’ve got to take your hat off to them and give them credit for their execution there. We need to change up some things there and help out (DeLeVergne). He was kicking hard tonight and when the puck’s bouncing off the back door and they’re just slapping it in the open net, that’s not on the goaltender, that’s on us.”

The Bengals again found themselves in a position late in the game that required them to pull the goalie. A seemingly innocent shot from the point by Michalski snuck past the Mustangs goaltender and into the back of the net to preserve the point for the Bengals. Buffalo State finished 3 for 8 on the power play.

“I think tonight we played more the style that we want to play,” Carriere said. “I think we played a lot more of a faster game. We took advantage of our speed and the ability to get the puck down low and create some more opportunities that way.

“The power play executed when they needed to. We could have created more opportunities there, but by and large, we liked our style of play; we liked our game plan that we put together today a lot better than we did yesterday.”

Junior defenseman Ben Kramer agreed that a solid power play effort was key.

“We were good on the power play,” Kramer said. “The offensive side of the special teams was good. We got pressure on them and we never quit when we were down at the end of the game.”

The Bengals were able to gain two out of a possible four points in the home tilt that will be key as they now head to a seven-game road trip and don’t return to the Bengals Sports Arena until December 13th.

Hope feels if the Bengals continue to play their game, they can find success on the road.

“We’re going to need to keep things simple,” Hope said. “Play our style of play, the hard fast style we play and really frustrate teams by the way we want to play.”

The Bengals will start their road trip this Friday at Plattsburgh in another SUNYAC matchup.