The Oswego State women’s ice hockey team erupted for four goals in the second period, as they defeated Castleton State (VT), 6-1, in their regular season opener at the Campus Center Ice Arena on Sunday afternoon.
Senior forward and assistant captain Jenna Kirkwood and freshman forward Bryanna Forrest each scored twice, and junior forward Emily Grippin registered two assists for the Lakers against the Spartans.
"I thought our team worked together as a whole," junior forward Sarah Hannon said. "It was our first game of the season and after a long preseason, it was really good to see that everyone could step up and work hard."
After a disappointing shutout loss in an exhibition to Nepean, the Lakers took control of the game from the opening faceoff. The Lakers outshot the Spartans 36-21 in the game and 19-3 during the decisive second period.
The Lakers were led by their first line, consisting of Kirkwood, Grippin and Hannon. The first line was responsible for three goals and three assists.
"They set the tone," head coach Diane Dillon said of the Lakers first line. "They scored early, they are focused as a unit and they have decided that they are going to lead their team. I was really impressed with the way they hustled. They were smart and made smart changes, smart plays. They didn’t cough up the puck and won puck battles."
"We played awesome," Kirkwood said. "We wanted [to win] really bad and we all just put in a great effort and tried as hard as we could [to win the game]."
Oswego State tallied the game’s first goal at 16:11 of the first period when Hannon’s wrist shot from the right faceoff circle deflected off Spartan’s goalie Amanda Hoy and snuck past the goal line. The Lakers took a one-goal lead into the locker room despite outplaying the Spartans throughout most of the first period.
"I thought we had great chemistry," Hannon said. "We opened our eyes and picked up our heads with the puck and found each other out there."
Goals by Kirkwood, Forrest and sophomore forward Jillian Bergeron broke the game open for the Lakers in the second period. The Lakers had a clear game plan coming into the game, which consisted of establishing a player in front of the goal and attempting to feed her a pass for a one-timer. Another piece of the game plan was crashing the net after a shot from a Laker player. The game plan worked to perfection, as the six goals are the most the team has scored since Feb. 22, 2007 against the same Castleton State team.
"I was thrilled with the effort," Dillon said. "We came out knowing that we wanted to make a statement in the first game of the season and really set the tone for how we were going to play for the rest of the year."
Last season, the Lakers scored a total of 40 goals for the entire season and ended their season on a seven-game losing streak. During those seven games, Oswego State managed only five goals while allowing 32 goals.
The Lakers took advantage of only having to play one game over the weekend compared to the two games that Castleton State had to play. The Spartans suffered a 3-1 loss at SUNY Cortland on Saturday and had to travel to Oswego State to play the Lakers on tired legs. The extra day of rest for the Lakers was evident, as they were faster to loose pucks and took advantage of the various holes in the Spartan defense.
Junior goalie Emi Williams didn’t have to work too hard in net, but when she was tested, she made the saves she had to make in order preserve the victory. Williams registered 20 saves on 21 shots for the win.
The Lakers focused their attention in practice to the special teams units and beside a power play goal late in the third period by the Spartans, the special teams were on top of their game. Bergeron and Kirkwood each had a power play goal, as the Lakers compiled a .667 percent success rate on the power play.
Oswego State begins ECAC West play with two games against SUNY Potsdam on Saturday, Nov. 7 and Sunday, Nov. 8. The trip to Potsdam will be the first in team history, as the Potsdam women’s hockey program is in just its second season.