Returning to championship form

oswegonian/Hockey-v-Brockport

After what was by far the sloppiest game of the season, the Oswego State men’s ice hockey team rebounded strongly, closing out the regular season with a pair of 7-1 victories over SUNY Brockport on Friday night and SUNY Geneseo on Saturday night at the Campus Center Ice Arena.

Senior forward and assistant captain Chris Laganiere recorded a hat trick in his final regular season game in a Laker jersey to fuel a six-goal third period rout of the visiting Ice Knights.

After a scoreless first period that saw plenty of scoring opportunities for the Lakers, Oswego State finally broke the tie at 6:46 of the second period on junior forward Andrew Mather’s sixth goal of the season. Mather’s goal was set up by a turnover by the Ice Knights in their own defensive zone. Senior forward Joe Hall pressured the puck and was able to cause a turnover that ended up on Mather’s stick, who wristed a shot in front of the net that beat Geneseo goalie Adrian Rubeniuk stick side. Mather’s goal would be the only one of the period, as the Lakers headed into the second intermission with a one-goal lead.

The third period belonged to Laganiere, who tallied Oswego State’s next two goals to push the lead to three. Laganiere scored his first goal of the game at 2:20 on a breakaway attempt. Junior forward Ian Boots found Laganiere alone at center ice, who was able to maneuver the puck past Rubeniuk for the two-goal lead.

"We were hoping to gain momentum and get some guys’ chemistry going," head coach Ed Gosek said. "In terms of goalie, I thought Paul [Beckwith] played strong. He was the better goalie tonight. The main thing is the confidence level we take out of it. Guys playing at the top of their game and guys believing in one another. The unselfishness with the goals was nice to see."

Laganiere struck again less than a minute later on the power play. Following a tripping penalty to Geneseo’s Stefan Decosse, Laganiere again found the back of the net thanks in large part to his line mates. Senior forward Justin Fox fed a pass over to Boots in the slot, who found Laganiere in the far side faceoff circle. Laganiere fired a one-timer from the faceoff circle over the shoulder of Rubeniuk and into the back of the net.

"Tonight it was good to see him capitalize on those chances," Gosek said. "He’s been snake bitten for whatever reason. You need your big players in big games. Those are the guys that need to step forward and tonight he did."

The flood gates opened from there, as the Lakers poured in four more goals before the end of regulation, including Laganiere’s third of the game and 10th of the season. Laganiere’s goal proved to be the final regular season goal for the Lakers at 17:59 of the third period to give Oswego State a 7-1 lead. Just like Laganiere’s previous goal, Fox and Boots were essential parts of securing the hat trick. Following the goal, a few of the 2,888 fans in attendance threw their hats onto the ice to commemorate Laganiere’s achievement.

"It wasn’t me, it was my teammates," Laganiere said. "They set me up with some pretty easy goals. They created a lot of space for me. It’s pretty easy to score those goals. I think anyone can so all the credit should go to them."

Laganiere’s performance overshadowed both Fox and Boot’s play on the ice despite their strong showings. Boots didn’t register a goal but did tally five assists, including all three of Laganiere’s goals. Fox recorded a power-play goal and two assists for a three-point night just a day after the passing of his grandmother.

Outside of Laganiere’s three goals, senior forward Owen Kelly and sophomore forward Matt Singleton each tallied a goal in the third period to turn a close game into a laugher. The Lakers outshot the Ice Knights 15-9 in the third period and 47-29 for the game. Junior goalie Paul Beckwith was solid in net for the Lakers, recording 28 saves to improve his record to 18-1-0. Rubeniuk was strong for the first two periods but struggled in the third, finishing with 40 saves in a losing effort.

The Ice Knights scored their first and only goal against the Lakers so far this season at 12:07 of the third period on a goal by Carson Schell. Geneseo’s Jake Yard was credited with the assist.

"I thought [Geneseo] played a good game," Gosek said. "They played a calculated, low-risk two periods, which is probably just what they wanted. I thought their game plan on the road was well-executed."

The Oswego State men’s ice hockey team defeated last place Brockport, 7-1, on Friday night following a disappointing 5-2 loss against Morrisville State last weekend.

At the start of the game it did not look like a contest between the first and last place teams. Brockport challenged Oswego State in the early minutes of the game and its efforts paid off. The Golden Eagles scored the first goal of the game early, which started to bring back memories of the Morrisville loss, where Oswego State fell behind early and was unable to recover.

This time, however, the Lakers bounced back and scored three goals by the end of the period.

Junior forward Ian Boots scored on the power play to tie the game at one. Boots received a feed in front of the net from senior defenseman Stephan Mallaro for the first of three first-period goals scored by the Lakers.

"Anytime you’re down the next goal is huge," Boots said. "Either they’re up two or you’re tied with them. It was obviously a huge relief and I think it gave everybody on the team a boost of energy."

The Lakers were able to capitalize on the power play for their second goal when sophomore forward Matt Singleton tapped in a pass from sophomore forward Luke Moodie. The third goal of the period was scored when sophomore forward John Whitelaw sent a pass to sophomore forward Paul Rodrigues to set up a breakaway attempt, where he was able to beat Brockport goalie Joe Reagan.

The Lakers kept the pressure on in the second period. Rodrigues was robbed of his second goal of the game when Reagan made an incredible glove save near the start of the period. But at 16:06 of the period, Rodrigues found the back of the net, giving the Lakers a 4-1 lead.

Three third-period goals solidified the win. The fifth came from senior forward Owen Kelly whose shot rang off the crossbar before hitting the back of the net. Following the goal, Brockport became more aggressive and the game’s physicality picked up. Three penalties were called at 5:26 of the third period. Two calls against Oswego State, for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct and one against Brockport, also for unsportsmanlike conduct, gave the Golden Eagles the advantage.

Brockport was unable to generate a goal on the power play and shortly after it ended Boots scored his second and the sixth goal of the game in a crowded play in front of the net. Senior forward Chris Laganiere scored the seventh and final goal of the game on the rebound off a shot by Boots.

Oswego State goaltender Paul Beckwith made 18 saves in the game, and Brockport’s Reagan made 45.

The difference between this game and the Morrisville loss seemed to be the hard work and effort that Oswego State put into the game which was seriously lacking against the Mustangs.

"As long as I’ve been part of our program here we’ve prided ourselves on being a blue collar team," head coach Ed Gosek said. "It’s been a hard week on them; they battled hard all week long. I think that the thing we were concerned about most was just having the right focus."

Now with the playoffs ahead, the Lakers must continue to keep their focus in order to win those crucial games.

"We know we have playoffs coming up and it’s a one-game elimination so we have to be prepared from here on out," Boots said.

The No. 1 seed Lakers earned a first-round bye from the quarterfinal round and kick off their postseason play against SUNY Fredonia, the No. 6 seed that upset No. 3 seed Buffalo State, in the SUNYAC Semifinal on Saturday Feb. 26, at the Campus Center Ice Arena.