Men’s hockey opens with two draws


Dave DeLuca/The Record file photo

Senior forward Brett Hope had a goal and five assists in two games against Brockport and Geneseo this past weekend.

Tony Callens, Staff Writer

With a new season and a new head coach, the Buffalo State men’s hockey team began its 2015 schedule with a pair of ties against conference-rival Fredonia and Nazareth.

On Friday, the Bengals took on “Battle by the Lake” rivals Fredonia in a choppy, well-contested matchup that ended in a 1-1 tie after 65 minutes of play.

The Blue Devils struck first with just six seconds left to play in the first period on a two-on-one rush to the open side of the net.

Buffalo State responded 12 minutes into the second period with a four-on-four goal by freshman winger Johnathan Hall, the first of his Buffalo State career.

Both sides had their opportunities, but neither could find the back of the net for the rest of the game. The two teams combined to be 0 for 13 on the power play. The Bengals took eight penalties but were able to kill all of them.

“We took way too many penalties and somethings got to change. We got into trouble last year, it got us into trouble here,” head coach Steve Murphy said. “It’s something as a staff that we can’t accept any more, so we’re going to look to correct some things.”

Murphy made his head coaching debut on Friday following the offseason departure of Nick Carriere. Murphy served as an assistant last season.

While the penalties didn’t cost Buffalo State the Fredonia game, they did in the game against Nazareth. The Golden Flyers netted both of their goals with a man advantage. The penalty kill was hugely important in a game that was chippy and physical throughout.

The Bengals found a bright spot in the play of goaltender Mike DeLaVergne. The senior came up with a combined 57 saves in the two games.

“(DeLaVergne) was unbelievable,” Murphy said. “I think he’s picked up right where he left off last year. He’s been awesome and gave us a chance to win both games. That’s all we can ask for from a goalie he’s made the saves that he’s needed to make.”

Nazareth opened up the scoring with their first power-play goal in the second period. The Bengals responded three minutes later when forward Anthony Beaumont took the puck into the slot and shot the puck from his knees into the top shelf to make it 1-1.

“I wasn’t really thinking too much. I was just trying to work hard and get the puck to the net and got lucky that it found its way in,” Beaumont said.

In the third period, center Ryan Salkeld blasted a shot from the slot on a power play to take the lead.

It looked briefly as though the Bengals would pull out the victory, but the Golden Flyers equalized on a goal from forward Scott Dawson to pull level at 2-2.

The Bengals went 1 for 7 on the power play and killed three of Nazareth’s five power plays. The players were all in agreement with their head coach that the special teams play needs to improve.

“We just need to work as a team. Special teams is going to help us,” Beaumont said. “Special teams is a big part of our game and we need to capitalize on our power plays and kill the penalties we need to kill.”

Buffalo State outshot their opponents in both contests – 32 to 28 against Fredonia and 45 to 32 against Nazareth.

The Bengals will now go on a five-game road trip for the next two weeks, starting this weekend with SUNYAC conference matchups at Potsdam and No. 5 Plattsburgh.

“I think that some of our younger forwards have been really good. The older guys were good tonight (against Nazareth),” Murphy said. “The returners (Salkeld), Hope, Zaleski, those are the guys that we need to lean on, and if they’re not being very good, we’re not going to go very far, but we’re going to keep correcting some things.

“We tell them all the time: ‘we’re in this together, we’re all going to fix it. We’ll get better in our structure and our systems, become more disciplined and hopefully that leads to more wins in the future.’”

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