Bears to host Buffalo State in SUNYAC Hockey Quarterfinal Wednesday
2/23/2015 | Men’s Ice Hockey
POTSDAM, N.Y.-The SUNY Potsdam men’s hockey team (12-10-3, 8-6-2 SUNYAC) will host Buffalo State (11-11-3, 7-6-3) in the SUNYAC Quarterfinals this Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 7 p.m.
The matchup features two red-hot teams that battled down the stretch and finished just a point apart in the final standings. The Bears rode six-time SUNYAC Goalie of the week Jon Hall (Dexter, N.Y./Stouffville Spirit) to a 7-2-1 record in the last 10 games of the season. Bengals were 6-3-1 over the same span thanks in large part to their sophomore goalie Mike DeLaVergne.
The teams split their two regular season meetings. At Maxcy Ice Arena on Nov. 15, senior defenseman Dan McCamey (Dayton, Ohio/Minnesota Flying Aces) scored twice and junior forward Jake Rivera (Pacific Palisades, Calif./Hartford Wolfpack) added a goal and an assist as Potsdam won a 5-2 decision. Hall made 37 saves in the victory.
The situation was reversed just three weeks ago as the Bengals gained their revenge with a 5-3 win in Buffalo. Jake Rosen scored twice for Buffalo State and Nick Berst and Cory Gurski each had a goal and an assist. DeLaVergne made 29 saves. Vander Esch recorded his second-career hat trick for the Bears.
Vander Esch has torched opponents over the last eight games, recording 17 of his 22 points (15g, 7a) in the span. The freshman now sits atop Potsdam’s scoring list and has claimed four SUNYAC Rookie of the Week honors this season. Senior assistant captain Ken Simon (Norwell, Mass./Philadelphia Revolution) and junior forward Billy Pascalli have been critical components of the Bears’ offense with 21 points (6g, 15a) each. Senior forward Trevor Cope (Swartz Creek, Mich./Atlanta Jr. Knights) (6-13-19), junior captain Todd Thomas (Davidsville, Pa./Hartford Wolfpack) (4-14-18) and senior forward Zach Blake (Campbellford, Ontario/Plattsburgh State) (8-8-16) have also carried the Bears at times as well.
Hall has emerged as an elite goaltender this season. He has three victories over ranked opponents and has outdueled some of the nation’s best netminders. He is 12-7-2 with a 2.90 goals-against-average and a .923 save percentage on the season.
Ryan Salkeld and captain Brett Hope have paced the Bengals’ offense during the 2014-15 campaign. Salkeld leads the team with 26 points (13g, 13a) and Hope has 23 points (9g, 14a). Jason Zaleski has contributed 22 points (12g, 10a) and Taylor Price has 17 (6g, 11a).
After splitting time with Ian Sylves for much of the season, DeLaVergne seized the starting job with his victory over the Bears. The goaltender has gone 4-0-1 in Buffalo State’s last five contests with a 2.20 g.a.a. and a .934 save percentage.
The teams have met only once in the playoffs, a 4-3 Bengal victory in Buffalo on Feb. 22, 2012. Potsdam owns an 8-2-1 postseason record in the friendly confines of Maxcy Ice Arena. Wednesday is the Bears first home playoff game since a 7-2 victory over SUNY Cortland on Feb. 19, 2008.
Tickets for Wednesday’s game are $6 for adults, ages 12 and up and $3 for children ages 5-12. No complementary passes will be accepted. Potsdam students will be admitted free with their campus ID’s. As a large crowd is expected, the box office will open at 5:30 p.m. the day of the game. Tickets will not be pre-sold. Fans and students are encouraged to arrive early.
Support the Bears by “blacking out” the arena. All in attendance are encouraged to wear black to the game at the team’s request.