Men’s hockey heads into home stretch

I can’t speak for anyone else, but this hockey season is flying by if you ask me. It feels like just yesterday that the season began, yet here we are beginning the month of February and the home stretch of the regular season. Ten games have gone by since my last set of observations so there’s a lot to talk about. Here are my thoughts from the last two months of Laker hockey, which were filled with plenty of action.

Hobart and Hamilton hurdles. Two non-conference foes ended long lasting Oswego State streaks back in December. The Hobart Statesman handed Oswego State their first regular season loss, 5-2, at the Geneva Recreation Center on Dec. 11. Just a few weeks later, Hamilton broke the 25-game home winning streak when they beat the Lakers 5-1 in the opening round of the Pathfinder Bank Oswego Classic at the Campus Center Ice Arena. Hobart went onto win the tournament. Oswego State hasn’t lost since these back-to-back defeats.

Goalie-go-round. Paul Beckwith was back from injury by the time SUNYAC play resumed, but back-ups Dan Jones and sophomore transfer Andrew Hare from Niagra College filled in admirably, pitching back-to-back shutouts against Skidmore on Jan. 4 and Curry College on Jan. 8. Statistics show that the Lakers play with a bit more confidence with Beckwith between the pipes, as they have jumped from an average of 2.7 goals per game under Jones and Hare back to a mark of over five goals per game since Beckwith’s return.

BMW. Whether it is Boots-Moodie-Whitelaw or Boots-Mather-Whitelaw, together as linemates the BMW just keeps on rolling along. Andrew Mather is having a standout season in particular, finding himself fifth on the Lakers in points, with 19. He is currently riding a 5 game point streak. Whitelaw and Moodie are 2 and 3 respectively in the point category as well, while Boots leads the way with 28.

Fredonia fall-out. In case you missed it, Oswego State blew a 4-0 lead in Fredonia back on January 23 at Steele Hall. Despite the collapse, which was highlighted by Matt Hehr’s game-tying goal with 5.3 seconds left in regulation, sophomore forward Paul Rodrigues rescued the Lakers when he scored the game-winner just 55 seconds into overtime. It was the first OT game for Oswego State since a 5-4 loss to Plattsburgh in the 2009 SUNYAC Championship Game.

Did you say Plattsburgh? How’s that for a segue? Speaking of that OT loss to the Cardinals in the ’09 SUNYAC title game, it was none other than Vick Schlueter that scored the overtime winner that year. Roughly 12 minutes into last Saturday’s Oswego State/Plattsburgh matchup at the Ronald B.Stafford Ice Arena, Schlueter already had two power-play goals, and the Cardinals led 2-0. The resilient Lakers would come back to tie it, and rally again from 3-2 down, to march out of the great white north with a 4-3 win, the fifth straight triumph overall against their bitter rivals.

Only four regular season games remain – a trip to SUNY Cortland on Friday Feb. 4., followed by three home contests to finish the campaign. The Lakers are just one victory (or one SUNY Geneseo loss) away from clinching the top seed in the SUNYAC. Perhaps more important than sealing up home ice in the conference playoffs holding on to the overall No. 1 seed in the nation, something that they were unable to accomplish last season after falling to Geneseo in their final game. They’ll have another chance this year to avoid that same fate, hosting the Ice Knights on Saturday, Feb. 19 on Senior Night.