What has been looked at as a yearly event by many for the past six years has slowly become tradition at Fredonia State.
Steele Hall Ice Arena was once again jam-packed Friday as the Blue Devils took on the Cortland Red Dragons in the annual Pink the Rink game.
Amongst the emotion and generosity that comes with the pink jerseys being worn, there was still a very important hockey game to be played as Fredonia State battled its way to a 5-5 tie, which earned them one point in the standings to claim sole possession of fourth place in the SUNYAC.
Photos courtesy of SUNY?Fredonia
At top left, Fredonia State’s Will McLaughlin skates with the puck past goaltender Mark Friesen during Friday’s SUNYAC?men’s college hockey game at Steele Hall. At right, Fredonia State’s Mat Hehir takes the puck into the Cortland zone. Above, members of the Fredonia State hockey team pose with a jersey purchased by Taylor and Rick Bourne for their mother.
"The Pink the Rink game is harder to play in than most people realize," Fredonia State coach Jeff Meredith said. "There is a lot of emotion that goes into it and you have to harness it to do what you want with it."
The emotion may have got the best of the Blue Devils as Cortland was first to light the lamp when Adam Bevilacqua netted the game's first goal at the 9:08 mark.
Despite finding themselves down on the scoreboard midway through the first period, the Blue Devils did not panic and were able to overcome the early emotion to tie the game up before intermission.
Chris Jung was able to scoop up a puck after the Red Dragons' goaltender Lyle Rocker made the initial save and netted the puck for the 1-1 tie just before the break.
Fredonia State built on that momentum as it struck first in the second period.
Jared Wynia was able to slap home a well-placed pass to give the home team its first lead of the game.
Stephen Castriota and Taylor Bourne picked up assists on the play.
"One of the biggest things I saw from this game was that we were resilient enough to come back when we got down," Meredith said. "One or two months ago this was a team that could not come back, but we have been getting better and it is good to know we have the ability to come back in our arsenal down the stretch."
The momentum quickly swung in favor of Cortland as they were able to tie it up once again just seconds later.
It took just 34 seconds after Fredonia State's goal for Nick Zappia to net the unassisted goal for the Red Dragons.
The Blue Devils pulled ahead once more in the second period behind a fluke goal.
On a 2-on-2 rush down the ice it appeared as if Alex Perkins tried to make a pass, but the bouncing puck was able to find its way to the back of the net as it hopped over the goalie's shoulder to give the Blue Devils the 3-2 advantage.
The Fredonia State goal came short-handed as they were serving a penalty, as well as picking up another penalty seconds after the goal.
Once again, it was not long before the Red Dragons' took the wind out of Fredonia State's sails as the visitors matched the Fredonia goal with one of their own just 16 seconds later on the 5-on-3 power play.
Cortland added another power play goal to take the 4-3 lead, before the Blue Devils were able to kill off the second of the two penalties.
With less than two minutes to play in the second period, Fredonia State was able to tie the game up for the fourth time when Brad Nunn made a nice play to keep the puck in the zone and then fired a long shot which found the back of the net.
The back-and-forth action continued in the third period as Cortland scored early on once again took the lead, leaving Blue Devils another mountain to climb.
With 3:10 left in regulation, John DeFeo netted the equalizer following a battle for a rebound in front of the net.
"DeFeo's goal was one of those greasy types of goals," Meredith said. "In the end, that was a big one for us. It just really stands out how resilient these guys are. There is a lot of hunt in this dog."
After a scoreless overtime period, the game ended and the festivities began as the Fredonia State players removed their jerseys and presented them to the fans that purchased them in honor of those who have battled cancer.
"What a great event," Meredith said. "It is such a big thing to get the campus and the community excited. We had another packed house. It was a special night. I have alumni that emailed me telling me how jealous they are that they were not able to experience this type of event while they attended school here."
The work is not over for the Blue Devils as they hit the ice again tonight as the SUNYAC's top team in Oswego will make the trip to Steele Hall at 7 p.m., in a crucial matchup as Fredonia State continues to make its playoff push.
Dragons drop Devils
ONEONTA - The Fredonia State men's basketball team dropped a 79-67 decision at Oneonta on Friday.
The Devils (2-1, 6-14) were led by Robert Lyles with 18 points. Lyles scored 10 points from the free-throw line. Amir Billups added 11 points and Tyrone Clark added 10.
Dunkirk grad Kevin Holmes, a freshman, had eight points on four of seven shooting in eight minutes of action. Senior Dalton Kashmer had eight points and a team-high six rebounds.
Oneonta (2-13, 3-19) was led by Zach Mager with 26 points and 9 rebounds.
The Devils travel to New Paltz today. Gametime has been moved to 6 p.m., due to weather conditions.
Road loss at Oneonta
ONEONTA - The Fredonia State women's basketball team fell at SUNY Oneonta, 55-40, on Friday.
The Devils' SUNYAC record fell to 6-8. Overall, they stand at 11-9. Jaimie Warren led the Devil effort with nine points and 11 rebounds. Jillian Brunswick (South Dayton/Pine valley) and Grace Moore (Fredonia) added eight points apiece.
Oneonta (8-7/11-11) was led by Alyshia Crawford with a game-high 23 points and six rebounds.
The Devils undoing was a slow first half. The Red Dragons held a 29-11 lead at the break. Fredonia State outscored Oneonta, 29-26, in the second half.
At 6-8 in the conference, the Devils are one game behind Buffalo State (7-7) for the sixth and final SUNYAC Tournament playoff spot. Four conference games are left to play.