Blue Devils,?Cortland skate to 3-3 tie

Cortland scored twice late in the third period to rally for a 3-3 tie with Fredonia State in men’s hockey Saturday night at Steele Hall.

Stephen Nardi scored from the top of the left faceoff circle with 4:55 remaining to tie the game following a short-handed goal by Ryan Wagner five minutes earlier.

The outcome left both teams with identical 5-10-4 records. The Blue Devils are 2-4-3 in the SUNYAC while the Red Dragons are 3-6-2.

Cortland’s strong finish negated a quick start by the Blue Devils, who led 3-1 after one period.

Senior defenseman Ryan Edens opened the scoring when he rammed home a shot from the slot following a series of Blue Devil shots and a goal-mouth scramble. It was the first goal by Edens, and just his third point, in 71 games as a Blue Devil.

Senior forward Alex Perkins made it 2-0 Fredonia State – and extended his personal scoring streak – when he tipped in a shot from the edge of the left faceoff circle at 3:35 of the first period. Perkins has goals in his last three goals, and points in his last four.

The Red Dragons cut the margin in half, to 2-1, when Kyle Herring banged in a short shot off the inside of the post at the 6:39 mark.

The Blue Devils regained the two-goal lead when freshman forward Hunter Long jumped into the play and connected on a one-timer one stride inside the blue line.

After Long scored, Cortland coach Tom Cranfield switched goaltenders and Mark Balkwill came off the bench. The moved proved to be a turning point as Balkwill stopped all 25 shots he faced the rest of the way to earn the No. 1 star.

Cortland came out in the second period and picked up the speed of its attack, yet either shot wide or were stymied by Blue Devil freshman goaltender Jeff Flagler, who finished with 38 saves.

Wagner finally solved Flagler midway through the third period. After dragging the puck while crossing the blue line, he fired a shot into the upper left corner. It was a short-handed goal – the first one Fredonia State has allowed this season – to cut the Blue Devil lead to 3-2.

The closest the Blue Devils came to putting the puck behind Balkwill – and adding to their lead – came later in the third period. After receiving a long lead pass, Long delivered a sliding puck to the opposite post where Jared Wynia (Calgary, Alberta) chipped it into the goaltender’s pads. The goal light went on yet the goal was waved off after the officials convened, including a brief meeting with the goal judge.

Moments later, Nardi tied the game with an innocent looking shot from the left wing which snuck into the short side of the net.

Fredonia State senior forward Matt Owczarczak earned the No. 2 star with two assists while Long was chosen as the No. 3 star.

The Blue Devils are back at home next Friday against the Morrisville State Mustangs, and have a rematch with the Mustangs next Saturday for what is the annual Pink The Rink game.