Cortland spoils Fredonia’s party with 7-3 win Saturday

OBSERVER Photo by Ron Szot Fredonia’s Ryan Dunn (16) fights for control of the puck with Cortland’s Sean Perichak, during their SUNYAC men’s hockey game on Saturday at the Steele Hall Ice Arena.

After Saturday’s SUNYAC men’s hockey game against Cortland, the Fredonia State Blue Devils (4-6-1, 4-5-1)  have nearly a month-long break before returning to action after the New Year. It may take that long to get the memory of Saturday’s 8-4 loss out of their minds.

The Red Dragons (6-5-1, 4-3-0) scored three goals in the first 90 seconds of the contest and every time the Blue Devils managed to claw their way back within striking distance, they shot themselves in the foot.

“I think we honestly underestimated Cortland and I can’t fathom how we could underestimate anybody,” a disappointed Fredonia head coach Mike Meredith said. “I don’t understand it. You think one (goal), that’s bad. All of a sudden two (goals), OK lets go. Then are you kidding me three (goals)? You can’t dig yourself out of that kind of hole, but we did.”

Eleven seconds into the contest, Cortland’s Stefano Alonzi raced up the ice after the Red Dragons won the faceoff and scored for the 1-0 lead. A minute and 20 seconds in, Darren McCormick made it 2-0 Cortland off assists by Aidan Salerno and Sean Perichak. Then, 15 seconds later, Mike Crowley scored the first of his three goals on assists by Daren Zack and Perichak.

Despite the early 3-0 deficit, Fredonia was able to slowly crawl its way back, beginning with a shorthanded goal by Max Ross off a Kyle Jelinski with 7:30 left in the first. Cortland answered a minute later when Tommy Nolan shoveled a rebound through FSU goalie Anton Rosen’s five-hole to bring the score to 4-1 after the first period.

The Blue Devils came out strong in the second and eventually cut the deficit to a lone goal deep into the period.

Powerplay goals by Jacob Haynes (5:33 remaining) and Bobby Polachek (2:53 left) brought the score to 4-3 before the Blue Devils once again were their worst enemies.

As the second period was coming to a close, Fredonia’s Hunter Long took an interference penalty with 1:45 left in the third period and the Red Dragons were able to capitalize.

Crowley netted his second goal of the game, this time with just three seconds on the clock, deflating the home team and giving the Red Dragons a two-goal cushion heading into the final period of play.

“We took a penalty and bang, three seconds to play in the second period and we’re in a two-goal hole again,” Meredith said. “If we are down by one goal going into the third period it maybe goes differently. Who knows. There’s so many teams in this league that underestimate somebody and they get beat just because they aren’t prepared. I don’t know how we could do that.”

Fifty-six seconds into the third, the lead was extended to three goals when Casie Garrison scored during a 4-on-4 and shortly after Crowley completed the hat trick for a 7-3 Cortland lead.

Fredonia answered with a goal by Jelinski with 6:06 left in the contest, but it was too little, too late as an empty-net goal by Dougie Elgstam sealed the deal in the waning moments of action.

“We already made the mistake of taking someone for granted when we lost to Morrisville, who is the last-place team in the conference,” Meredith said. “We were hoping we had covered that already. They have a month-long break now. They can go home, relax, recharge the batteries and come back ready for a good second half of the season. As disappointing as this is, we did some good things the first half of the season. The problem is we are leaving with a bad taste in our mouth. You can’t just get rid of that right away.”

The Blue Devils are back in action on Jan. 6 when they travel to Owings Mills, MD to face the Stevenson University Mustangs.