Assistant Sports Editor
Last week, the Fredonia Blue Devils hockey team held their annual Stroke Survivor Night. The team warmed up and played in red jerseys to support stroke survivors and raise money for The Foundation of Kaleida Bates.
Stroke survivor, and father of assistant coach Mike Lysyj, Bob Lysyj dropped the puck to start the game. Between donations, raffles and tickets, Fredonia raised around $9,000 for the foundation.
When the game started, both teams came out with a little extra energy and pace to their game. During the first half of the first period, both teams were at a stalemate until Potsdam scored twice in two minutes to take a 2-0 lead. Potsdam scored their first goal off the power play by Tyler Young at 15:10, and then teammate Vinny Guidmond made it 2-0 on a goal where the defense was beaten and left the goalie Erik Bogart in a bad position.
The Blue Devils fought back as freshman Victor Tracy made the game 2-1 at 17:06 of the first period. Putting the puck in the net worked out well for them to start out this game. If they didn’t score, they created chances for themselves and gave themselves a chance to be in the game throughout.
The second period was uneventful as both teams headed into the last period with the score 2-1 in favor of Potsdam. Fredonia upped their performance in the third, but so did Potsdam.
Potsdam would extend the lead to 3-1 on a goal by Jon Venter, his first collegiate goal at 8:48 of the third period. Fredonia countered Potsdam’s goal, with a goal of their own.
Fredonia cut the lead back to one at 12:59 of the third period when junior Todd Schauss scored off a rebound.
However, this would be the closest Fredonia would get as Potsdam’s goalie Brendan McMenimen played well and recorded 35 saves. Potsdam would score an empty-netter with six seconds left, courtesy of Jon Venter, his second of the game. Bogart finished with 29 saves, but Potsdam made a few more plays to come out on top. With Potsdam’s record, it was a chance for the Blue Devils to take out one of the best teams in conference, but they fell short.
Losing tough games like this can mess with your confidence, but Victor Tracy explained that sometimes the puck doesn’t bounce your way and you can’t focus too much on the past.
“It’s always frustrating to come up short in a game no matter what game we’re playing or what team we’re playing. Potsdam is a good competitor and we knew that going into Friday night’s game,” said Tracy. “The game didn’t seem to hang in our favor and the bounces just weren’t coming our way. Sometimes the game doesn’t work out in your favor and it’s just something we need [to] learn to extricate as a team.”
While Fredonia took the loss Friday, they raised thousands of dollars and many players such as Tracy knew the importance of that.
“Although we fell short, the upside to Friday night’s game is that we did raise over $9,000 for a good cause. Friday’s game, for us, wasn’t as much about who won, but more about the cause the team was supporting,” he said.
“A few days prior to the Stroke Awareness game, the Chautauqua Nursing & Rehabilitation Center called Luke Rivera, who started and organizes [the game]. They had asked if we would be willing to partake in visiting the center to meet some of the patients and listen to their stories,” said Tracy. “This cause means a lot to our team and we wanted all of the survivors we had met to know that Friday’s game was played for them.”
Other players, like Schauss, felt the same way and mentioned how excited the team was to play for such a good cause.
“The Stroke Awareness game was extremely important to us as a team. Not only because it was a SUNYAC game, but because we were playing for something much bigger than the game itself. Having an opportunity to play for a cause, such as this game, certainly does bring more energy throughout the locker room,” said Schauss. “The boys felt that we weren’t only playing for each other, but [for] the ones who have suffered from strokes in the past.”