The trip to the NCAA Frozen Four was all too familiar for the Oswego State men’s ice hockey team, as they were once again ousted in the National Semifinals. A 5-3 loss to the Adrian Bulldogs at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis, Minn. spelled the end of another tremendous season, one that will go down in Laker lore. Here are my final thoughts on a season to remember.
Boots filled quite nicely. The losses of Eric Selleck and Neil Musselwhite both hurt the Lakers in different ways and the team definitely could have used each forward’s respective skill sets in Minneapolis, but Ian Boots, coming over from Division I Ohio State, led the team in all three offensive categories with 15 goals and 25 assists for 40 points. We’ll probably see him sporting a ‘C’ or an ‘A’ come next fall.
A Mather improvement. Junior forward Andrew Mather, another player who could easily be wearing a letter on his chest in his upcoming senior season, broke out in a big way in 2010-11 season. With eight goals and 20 assists, Mather more than tripled his point output from the season before and played a big role on special teams, making up part of the top power play unit and also leading the team in shorthanded breakaways (by my unofficial count).
Beckwithstanding. For the first time in his career, Paul Beckwith was able to make it through most of the season healthy and rarely wavered throughout. Missing just six games (all non-conference) between Dec. 10 and Jan. 21, Beckwith posted a 19-3-0 overall record with a GAA of 2.02 and a .926 save percentage. For his efforts, Beckwith was nominated for the 2011 Sid Watson Award for the best Division III men’s ice hockey player in the nation.
The Jones and the Hare. When Beckwith did go down, the Lakers could not have asked for better back-up performances from sophomore Dan Jones sophomore transfer and Andrew Hare in his absence. Jones recorded a shutout against Skidmore College, while Hare notched a shutout of his own against Curry College. Although the two of them played in only seven combined games, coach Ed Gosek knows he has two tremendous options to fill the role after Beckwith graduates at the end of next season.
Disappointments. Other than coming up short once again in their quest for a national title, a few Lakers individually experienced down seasons in 2010-11. Forward Chris Laganiere saw his point total drop from 46 in his junior year to just 20 in his senior season. Team captain and senior defenseman Kevin Huinink was unable to find the back of the net even once. Senior forward Joe Hall and junior defenseman Jared Anderson suffered the same fate. Anderson will enter his final season at Oswego State still seeking his first collegiate goal.
I find it hard to complain about a team that spent most of the season No. 1 in the USCHO polls and winning games night in and night out, but the same bitter ending to a season filled with such promise is a tough pill to swallow for everyone involved. The big class of players that came in last season will be a year older, the star goaltender enters his final season and the Lakers will try to build off that old adage in their quest to return to Lake Placid: third time’s a charm.