Blue Devils hockey plays for SUNYAC title tonight

OBSERVER File Photo Fredonia’s Jimmy Morgan (right) works down low during a game in January. Morgan scored the winning goal Nov. 4 when Fredonia played Geneseo, tonight’s SUNYAC Men’s Hockey Championship Game opponent.

The underdog Fredonia Blue Devils have won two straight road games to reach the SUNYAC Men’s Hockey Championship Game tonight at Geneseo. Game time is 7 p.m.

A 4-3 first-round win at Plattsburgh followed by a 3-1 semifinal win at Oswego punched the Blue Devils’ ticket to the final. They will now try to join Fredonia’s 2007 team as SUNYAC’s only No. 5 seeds to win the conference title.

Geneseo got to the title game by defeating Buffalo State, 4-3, in last Saturday’s other semifinal. The Knights — the No. 2 seed in the six-team tournament and ranked No. 5 nationally by USCHO.com — drew a first-round bye.

Despite seven previous playoff meetings between Fredonia and Geneseo, the teams have never before met with the SUNYAC championship on the line. They have had four first-round series and twice met as semifinalists (Geneseo holds a 4-2 series edge).

The most recent playoff encounter came in 2012, a 4-1 Fredonia first-round win. The 2012 playoff game is also the last time Fredonia has won on Geneseo ice. The Knights have won the last six meetings at the Wilson Arena.

The teams split their two meetings during this regular season. Fredonia was a 4-3 winner last Nov. 4 at Steele Hall on a goal by Jimmy Morgan with 6:33 left. It was Morgan’s second goal of the game and completed a Fredonia rally from 3-1 down. Mike Freeman and Jacob Haynes had the other Blue Devil goals while Anton Rosen made 23 saves over the final two periods.

Geneseo won the rematch, 4-1, on Jan. 20 at the Ira S. Wilson Ice Arena. Sam Wilbur — who had two assists in the first game — had the only Fredonia goal while Rosen made 34 saves.

This is Fredonia’s seventh championship game appearance — its first since 2011. The Blue Devils were runners-up three times (1992, 1997, 2011) and champs three times (1994, 1995, and 2007). The 2007 title is significant for its three-game road win streak. It started with a double-overtime win at Buffalo State, followed by a single-overtime win at Oswego. The Blue Devils finished the “eastbound & take ’em-down” journey with a championship game win at Plattsburgh.

It remains the only time a team has claimed the SUNYAC hockey title by winning three straight road games against three different opponents.

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