PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. – Down by three at the start of the third period, the No. 11 Plattsburgh State men's hockey team scored three goals to force overtime before Luke Baleshta scored the game-winner with 20 seconds left in overtime, giving the Cardinals a 5-4 win against No. 12 Williams in a non-conference game at the Stafford Ice Arena.
Williams tallied the lone goal of the first period at the 11:27 mark when John Wickman took a cross-ice pass from Greg Johnson and fired a shot that clipped the shoulder of Mathieu Cadieux on its way in the net.
The Ephs (8-3-1, 6-1-1 NESCAC) held on to the 1-0 lead until the 7:30 mark of the second period when Preston Kaye ripped a shot through the screen that sailed right by Williams' goaltender Sean Dougherty to tie the game at 1-1. Connor Gorman and Nick Jensen picked up assists on the power-play goal.
The tie wouldn't last for long though as Zander Masucci's shot from the point deflected off Nick Anderson just 56 seconds later to put Williams up, 2-1.
A costly turnover in front of their own net put the Cardinals down, 3-1, at the 9:33 mark. Evan Dugdale intercepted the puck and found Peter Mistretta who made a move around Cadieux to bury the backhander.
Things went from bad to worse late in the second when Matt Doyle scored a power-play goal at 17:45 to give the Ephs a three-goal lead at the end of two periods.
After an ugly second period, Plattsburgh called upon Sam Foley to take over goaltending duties at the start of the third. Cadieux allowed four goals on 13 shots through 40 minutes.
The Cardinals (11-5-1, 6-1-1 SUNYAC) were able to gain some momentum early in the third on a Kevin Emmerling goal from Connor Gorman and Luke Baleshta at 1:18.
With 5:20 remaining in regulation and still trailing by two goals, Plattsburgh pulled its goaltender for the extra attacker. Twenty seconds later, Jared Docking threw the puck in front and it deflected off a stick and to Barry Roytman, whose shot beat Dougherty on the glove side to bring Plattsburgh within one.
The comeback was complete at the 16:19 mark when Emmerling scored his ninth of the year and second of the night to bring the Stafford Ice Arena alive. Dougherty stopped a shot from Paul Puglisi before Jared Docking took a swing at rebound, but Emmerling was finally able to drive the loose puck into the net and send the game into overtime.
With the final seconds of the extra session winding down, Docking found Dillan Fox to the left of Dougherty. Fox sent a pass to Baleshta who was positioned right on the doorstep to punch in the game-winner with 20.2 seconds left.
The goal was Baleshta's first game-winner and sixth goal of the season. The rookie forward from Cambridge, Ontario leads the Cardinals with 19 points.
Foley earned his second win, stopping all seven shots he faced in 24:19. Dougherty recorded 37 saves in the loss for the Ephs.
Despite trailing most of the night, Plattsburgh finished with a 42-20 advantage in shots on goal. The Cardinals went 1-for-5 on the power play while the Ephs went 1-for-4.
The 2-0 weekend is the first for the Cardinals since Nov. 9 and 10 against Buffalo State and Fredonia.
With the non-conference portion of the schedule now complete, Plattsburgh returns to SUNYAC play Friday at Morrisville State. Game time is set at 7 p.m.