Vander Esch caps Bears' 6-5 comeback with seconds left

POTSDAM, N.Y.—Junior forward Dylan Vander Esch (San Jose, Calif./Hartford Wolfpack) scored his second of the game with 21 seconds remaining to cap the SUNY Potsdam men's hockey team's (2-0-2, 1-0-1 SUNYAC) 6-5 comeback victory over Morrisville State (0-3-1, 0-1-1) on Saturday night. The Bears trailed 5-1 midway through the second period. Senior captain Nick Casacci (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./Connecticut Oilers), freshman forward Vinny Guimond (Sorel-Tracy, Quebec/Gloucester Rangers), sophomore forward Ben Mariano (Harrisburg, Pa./Hartford Wolfpack) and senior assistant captain Alex Goodhue (Traverse City, Mich./Atlanta Jr. Knights) also scored for the Bears.
 
The Mustangs started quickly in the opening period. Just 2:06 into the game, Morrisville grabbed a 1-0 lead on goal from sophomore forward Stevie Ray Adams (Akwesasne, Quebec/Gloucester Rangers). Nearly three minutes later, sophomore forward Ian Wood (Pittsburgh, Pa./Palm Beach Hawks) broke up a Potsdam clearing attempt and made it 2-0. Morrisville won the ensuing faceoff and just 16 seconds later, Adams struck again to make it 3-0. After the goal, Bears sophomore goalie Nate Skidmore (Syracuse, N.Y./Buffalo Jr. Sabres) replaced junior Brendan McMenimen (Merrimac, Mass./Islanders Hockey Club). Potsdam finally slowed the momentum at 10:29. Casacci intercepted a Mustang pass at the left point and wristed a high shot through a crowd to beat Morrisville freshman goalie Jared Young (Pueblo West, Colo./Dells Ducks). However, freshman defenseman Dane Moore (Cadillac, Mich./Valley Wildcats) answered at 14:42 and the Mustangs took a 4-1 lead into the first intermission.
 
Two power plays allowed the Bears to put intense pressure on Young over the first half of the middle stanza. Potsdam fired 10 of the first 11 shots of the period on Young, but he didn't crack. After holding off the Bears, Morrisville sophomore forward CJ Stubbs (Pleasant Grove, Utah/Hawkesbury) finished a pretty passing play for a power-play marker and a 5-1 lead at 10:48. The penalties continued to come throughout the period and Potsdam made the most of the chances. At 12:18, Vander Esch finished a pass from senior assistant captain Vinny Caligiuri (Shoreham, N.Y./Hartford Wolfpack). Freshman forward Bryce Ferrell (Buffalo, N.Y./Buffalo Jr. Sabres) recorded the second assist on the play. At 15:17, Guimond closed the gap to 5-3 on the man advantage with another Ferrell helper. The Bears trailed by two after 40 minutes of play despite outshooting their opponents 24-8.
 
Morrisville went on the power play 18 seconds into the third period, but Potsdam got closer just the same. At 1:24, Mariano stole the puck at the Bears' blue line and scored on the breakaway to make it 5-4. The Bears seemed on the brink of tying the game minutes later after earning a five-on-three power play, but the Mustangs were able to escape with the lead. Potsdam kept the momentum and drew even at 12:18. Ferrell found Goodhue in the slot and he slipped it under Young to make it 5-5. Skidmore robbed Adams of a chance for a hat trick with his glove with just 2:50 remaining. Then Wood appeared to put the Mustangs back in front a minute later, but the puck entered the goal after the whistle. With less than a minute to go Caligiuri fed Vander Esch with a long neutral zone pass. He skated in and beat a screened Young with a low shot to the left corner.
 
Skidmore earned the victory in relief with two goals allowed and 16 saves in 54:51. McMenimen made four saves and allowed three goals in the other 5:05. Young stopped 41 shots for the Mustangs.
 
Morrisville was 1-for-8 on the power play the Bears finished 2-for-10.
 
Potsdam heads to Western New York next weekend for a matchup with Fredonia on Friday and Buffalo State on Saturday.

No contests today.
No contests today.
No contests today.