Fredonia State and Buffalo State have become familiar opponents in the SUNYAC Men's Hockey Tournament.
When the Blue Devils and Bengals meet 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Buffalo State Ice Arena, it'll mark their fourth time they have been first-round foes since 2007, the first year of the current single-elimination format.
It'll also mark the fourth time since 2007 the Blue Devils will open the SUNYAC Tournament on the road. They are 3-0 on those first-round trips, including wins at Buffalo State in 2007 and 2011.
"We've been down this road before," Blue Devil head coach Jeff Meredith said about playing SUNYAC Tournament road games in general and at Buffalo State in particular. "Our guys feel pretty good about playing on the road in the postseason and I think a lot of it has to do with not having as much pressure on you.
"On the road," Meredith continued, "it is sometimes easier to play simple and patient because you are waiting for your chances as opposed to getting out of your comfort zone and trying risky things in order to create something. There is a feeling when you play at home that you 'have to make something happen,' and when you are on the road that feeling is not as prevalent."
His team's recent road success supports Meredith's claim. The Blue Devils are 6-3 in all SUNYAC Tournament road games since 2007, just 1-1 at home.
The 2007 season is significant for another reason. That was the year the Blue Devils won three straight road playoff games - at Buffalo State, at Oswego, and at Plattsburgh to claim the program's third SUNYAC championship.
The Blue Devils took the same post-season path in 2011, only to fall one game short. After road wins at Buffalo State and Oswego, they lost at Plattsburgh in the SUNYAC championship game.
In last year's tournament, the Blue Devils were 1-1 on the road - a first-round win at Geneseo, followed by a semifinal loss at Oswego.
Buffalo State earned the right to host Wednesday's game by defeating Fredonia State last Friday, 4-2, in the regular-season finale for both teams. Had the Blue Devils won, the first-round game would have been at Steele Hall the site of a 7-3 Buffalo State win last Nov. 30.
The Bengals have taken first-period leads of 5-0 and 2-0 in their two regular-season wins over the Blue Devils this season.
"We do need," Meredith said, "to get off to a better start on Wednesday than we did last Friday. I thought Buffalo State really took it to us last Friday for much of the first period. As always, staying out of the penalty box and goaltending will be the key. I look for a close game and it wouldn't surprise me if it comes right down to the end."
The winner advances to meet either No. 1 seed Oswego or No. 2 seed Plattsburgh on the road Saturday.
Blue Devils earn six No. 1 SUNYAC seeds
All the hard training, dual meets, and tapering has been done. Up next for the Fredonia State swimming and diving teams is the 2013 SUNYAC championship meet.
The Blue Devils and the other nine SUNYAC programs will convene for four days, starting Wednesday, for the conference championship meet at the Burt Flickinger Center in downtown Buffalo on the Erie County Community College City Campus.
"I like where we're seeded," Fredonia State head coach Arthur Wang said Wednesday just before the final psych sheet for the meet was released.
The Blue Devil women have at least one top-eight seed in each of the 15 individual events, including four No. 1 seeds. In addition, all five women's relay teams earned No. 3 seeds.
Seeds are determined by regular-season performance scores and times.
Senior diver Sarah Ficarro accounted for top seeds in 1-meter and 3-meter springboard diving, while freshman Natalia Wilkins in the 200-yard individual medley, and senior Elizabeth Schake in the 100-yard butterfly, are the other top seeds.
Ficarro is a six-time All-American and three-time SUNYAC Female Diver of the Meet. She was the SUNYAC 3-meter winner last year, while junior teammate Ashley Keller won the 1-meter title. Keller is the No. 2 seed off both boards this year. In addition, junior Katelyn Haley is third in the 3-meter and sixth in the 1-meter, while junior Breena Cogliandro is fifth in the 3-meter and sixth in the 1-meter.
Fredonia State is traditionally SUNYAC's top diving team. They are coached by Blue Devil assistant coach John Crawford.
In addition to her No. 1 seed in the 200 individual medley, Wilkins is No. 2 in the 400 individual medley and No. 4 in the 200 breast stroke. Also, Schake is ranked No. 2 in the 50 freestyle, No. 3 in the 200 butterfly, and No. 6 in the 100 freestyle. Since swimmers are limited to three individual events, she will need to opt out of one of the four.
Facing a similar decision is senior Emily Ginty. She's third-seeded in the 200 individual medley and in the 100 backstroke, as well seventh-seeded in the 200 backstroke, and eighth-seeded in the 500 freestyle.
Two other seniors, Lizzie Lodinsky and Stephanie Andrasek, earned three top-eight seeds each; senior Courtney Schmidt and sophomore Steph Rosa are seeded top eight in two events; and freshman Sam Rokos has one top-eight seed.
"We've got depth all over the women's side," Wang said. "That's our greatest strength in addition to having multiple (top eight) divers. Our senior class is very hungry after finishing so high last year."
The Blue Devil women finished second at the 2012 SUNYAC meet.
Senior diver Ryan Fuller accounts for the only two No. 1 seeds by Fredonia State men. He swept both boards in 2012 and was named SUNYAC Male Diver of the Meet.
Rafael Santiago, a freshman, is seeded fourth off the 1-meter board and seventh off the 3-meter board.
Fredonia State's top male swimmer, based off the seeding process, is junior John Estanislau. The multi-faceted Estanislau is the No. 2 seed in the 200-yard individual medley, the 100-yard butterfly, and the 100-yard freestyle. He's also No. 3 in the 50-yard freestyle. He will have to choose three of the four in which to compete at SUNYACs.
The next-highest seeded Blue Devil is junior Eric Jordan at No. 5 in the 100-yard backstroke. Jordan is also No. 7 in the 200-backstroke. Others with top-eight seeds in two events are junior Adrian Van Hall, junior Andrew Case and freshman Liam Jones; while freshman William Baker has one.
Three of Fredonia State's relays are seeded No. 2, while the other two are seeded No. 3.
"I think we can go faster," Wang said of the men's relays. "We've added a good influx of freshmen talent."
Fredonia State men were fourth at the 2012 meet.