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Devils on familar post-season road
FREDONIA, N.Y. -- Here we go again: Fredonia State at Geneseo in the post-season.
For the third straight year, the No. 3 seed Blue Devils (16-8-3) will make the trek to Livinston County for a SUNYAC Tournament playoff series vs. the nationally ranked Ice Knights (16-6-2).
Their semifinal series Friday and Saturday at the Ira S. Wilson Ice Arena represents the rubber match in their recent playoff convergence.
Fredonia State won the 2004 first-round matchup with a 5-3 win and a 3-3 tie. Geneseo gained revenge last year by virtue of a 3-3 tie and 5-1 semifinal win.
The rubber-match angle can be drawn out even further. They teams split a pair of regular-season games this season, with the home team winning each time. The Blue Devils were 6-1 winners Nov. 12 at Steele Hall. The Ice Knights bounced back for a 3-1 win at home Feb. 4.
"I think in November," Fredonia State head coach Jeff Meredith said, "we got on them early and they were still getting used to a new coaching staff there. I also think they are getting better goaltending now than they did then.
"Regarding our 3-1 loss there a few weeks ago, that was a scoreless game until two minutes left in the second period. We then got a power-play goal (by Wil Barlow) and then quickly took a penalty which they then converted to a power-play goal. For us to give that goal back so quickly, and with only 29 seconds left in the period, was pretty disappointing."
Jason Lammers is in his first season as the Geneseo bench boss. After graduating from Geneseo, Lammers had a brief stint as a pro player before he took assistant coaching jobs at Hobart, Clarkson, and Alaska-Fairbanks. He inherited a team which won the 2005 SUNYAC Tournament by defeating Plattsburgh on home ice. It was Geneseo's first men's hockey championship since 1986.
Sophomore Derek Jokic has taken over as the No. 1 goaltender. He posted a 9-3-0 record with a 3.13 goals-against average against SUNYAC teams, including a 31-save performance in the 3-1 win over Fredonia State on Feb. 4. In two games vs. the Blue Devils this year (he came on in relief Nov. 12), Jokic has stopped 52 of 55 shots.
The Ice Knights enter the weekend as the No. 9 team in NCAA Division III, according to USCHO.com. Their current three-game winning streak includes a 3-1 home win over the Oswego Lakers, the No. 1 seed in the tournament and host this weekend to No. 4 seed Plattsburgh.
The semifinal winners meet next weekend on the home ice of the higher seed.
The Fredonia State at Geneseo series will be broadcast locallly on WCVF (88.9 FM) and on the internet by Fredonia Radio Systems. Andy Park will call the play-by-play, and Evan Franchi will provide commentary.