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Devils need to stay out of the box
FREDONIA, N.Y. -- Still smarting from two straight shutout losses and three losses overall, the Fredonia State men's hockey team will look to play better disciplined hockey Friday night when they visit Buffalo State.
The Blue Devils (3-4-1, 1-3-0 SUNYAC) are coming off road losses to Oswego (8-0) and Cortland (3-0) last weekend, following a 3-2 home loss Nov. 4 to Potsdam. The shutouts to Oswego and Cortland marked the first time in program history the Blue Devils were held scoreless in consecutive SUNYAC games.
The root cause of the lack of scoring, head coach Jeff Meredith said, was in the Blue Devils' inability to stay out of the penalty box. Against Cortland, for instance, they had 44 minutes of penalties, resulting in 15 power-play chances by their opponent. At Oswego, the powerful Lakers had nine power-play chances. In the two games combined, the Blue Devils yielded a relatively low five power-play goals, a testament to their goaltending.
"You would, at first glance," Meredith said, "think that the freshman are having trouble adjusting to the style of (college) officiating. This is not the case. The freshmen took only four (penalty) minutes of the 44."
On the other hand, sophomores were responsible for 14 minutes while the seniors -- to Meredith's chagrin -- took 24 minutes of penalties. As a result, the Blue Devils were forced to kill penalties and unable to sustain any offense.
"We have to get the puck to the net," Meredith said, "in times that are less than Grade A chances. What that means is we need to generate rebounds and try to capitilize on them. (Also) our power play needs to be fresh and not worn down killing all the penalties, but it will help if they shoot the puck more."
Meredith plans a few lineup changes against Buffalo State (7 p.m., Buffalo State Sports Arena), with freshman forward Pat Capella (Syracuse), sophomore defenseman Kurt Hogard (Thunder Bay, Ont.), and freshman defenseman Craig Cole (East Islip), expected to see their first action of the season. Meanwhile, freshman goaltender Pat Street (Annapolis, Md.) will likely appear in his seventh game. Street is 1-4-1 with a 3.76 goals against average and a solid .899 save percentage.
"Goaltending has been fine," Meredith said. "Pat Street has played well and held the fort the other night in Cortland for 32 minutes of shutout hockey, while we were in the box for 18 of that. He worked hard to give us a chance to win."