Bengals pull back after falling to No. 5 St. Norbert


Dave Deluca

Junior forward Jake Rosen registered an assist in Saturday’s 2-2 draw.

Tony Callens, Sports Reporter

The Buffalo State men’s hockey team saw their four-game winning streak end at the hands of No. 5 St. Norbert in a 4-0 loss on Friday, but managed to bounce back and tie the powerhouse on Saturday.

Despite a misleading gap on the final scoreboard, the Bengals hung with the Green Knights for the majority of the contest. St. Norbert took an early 1-0 lead midway through the first period, but was stymied for the majority of the game.

“I thought we had some good chances, but it certainly wasn’t the effort that we have been getting the previous four games. St. Nobert is one of the best, if not the best, team in the country and you’ve got to have an A+ effort to be able to hang with them,” head coach Steve Murphy said.

Buffalo State struggled on the power play, going 0 for 5 on the night, and was outshot 38-17. St. Norbert finally broke through on a power play of their own before taking a stranglehold on the game with three goals in the third period.

The team has struggled to find an identity this season. Some games, they’ve been strong offensively while struggling on the defensive end, and in other games, they’ve relied on stout defense. Murphy attributes this dilemma to inconsistency.

“We had an issue,” he said. “Our top guys weren’t our top guys on Friday night and they play on the power play and get a lot of minutes for our team. When they’re not producing, then we’re not going to be very successful on most nights.”

Goaltender Mike DeLaVergne has provided consistency between the pipes for the Bengals this season. The senior recorded 34 saves on the night, including 18 in the second period alone.

“It’s just about getting into a rhythm. Most goalies nowadays like to see more shots. You get into the game and get better as the game goes on,” he said.

The next night proved to be a resolve for the team as they rebounded to earn a 2-2 tie with the highly favored Green Knights.

“It was great. That was the effort that we have had and that we needed to have before,” Murphy said. “I think results-wise we weren’t mad that we came away with a tie, but we weren’t content. You want to win hockey games, but it was nice to take a step back in the right direction.”

Buffalo State’s leading scorer, forward Taylor Pryce netted both goals to bring his season total to 8.

“We have a lot of firepower up front, and I feel like I can be a point-per-game type of player. I think a lot of these guys have that ability. It’s just working for me right now,” he said.

The Bengals got out to the start they were looking for with Pryce’s first goal that he knocked in the net off a rebound just 3:56 into the game.

The team focused on the penalty kill, according to Murphy, and managed to do so, posting three straight kills in the first period and finished the night killing off seven of eight power plays.

“We’ve been fine-tuning our game and the penalty kill was great. Special teams will win you hockey games,” DeLaVergne said.

Pryce sniped his second goal on a rush during a power play just 39 seconds into the second period. St. Norbert scored two goals at the end of the second period to tie the game up going into the final period.

Neither team could come up with a winner in the third period or overtime. DeLaVergne was solid again, finishing the night with 35 saves, including 15 in the third period and overtime alone.

The Bengals record now reads 4-3-3, and next weekend they will take a two-game trip to take on SUNYAC rivals Oswego and Cortland. The puck will drop at 7 p.m. in both matchups.

“Like I’ve said before, these games are must-win games. We’re sitting in sixth place in the SUNYAC and we want to win these games,” Murphy said. “If we play the way we’ve been playing as of late, if we get some goals and play hard defensively, then we will be successful next weekend.”

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