Men’s Hockey sets sights on Lake Placid

Two years ago it was a season of excitement after the Oswego State men’s ice hockey team reached the NCAA National Semifinal for the first time since the 2006-07 season, losing to St. Norbert College. Last year seemed like a season of disappointment after the Lakers fell to Adrian College in their second consecutive NCAA National Semifinal appearance.

Head coach Ed Gosek enters his ninth season with the team, compiling a 163-47-14 record in his first eight seasons. Gosek’s .759 winning percentage is highest among ice hockey head coaches in Oswego State history.

The Lakers begin the season ranked No. 2 in the preseason USCHO.com Men’s Ice Hockey Poll, receiving three first-place votes and 266 points. Oswego State sits 30 points behind defending national champion St. Norbert College, whom received the majority of first-place votes with 16.

Expectations for the team remain high despite losing six seniors to graduation. Replacing Kevin Huinink as team captain will be senior forward Andrew Mather, who was a bright spot for the Lakers in a 5-3 loss to Adrian in the Frozen Four. Mather finished with 28 points on eight goals and 20 assists in 27 games played. Mather recorded two goals and an assist for the Lakers against Adrian.

“He’s the right guy that they would follow,” Gosek said. “He’s the right guy that they respect for who he is. I couldn’t agree more. He sets a high standard for himself academically. He conducts himself in a manner in which we hold all our players to.”

The Lakers will have three assistant captains this season: senior forward Ian Boots, senior defenseman Jared Anderson and junior forward Jon Whitelaw. Boots led the team in points scored, assists and goals last season after transferring from Division I Ohio State. Boots tallied 40 points on 15 goals and 25 assists. Boots’ 40 points was 11th-most in Division III, earning him Second Team All-American honors.

Goaltender Paul Beckwith returns for his senior season in net for the Lakers, looking to stay healthy. Beckwith broke his collarbone on Dec. 4 at SUNY Geneseo and was never the same when he returned on Jan. 21 against Buffalo State. Juniors Dan Jones and Andrew Hare will back up Beckwith this season.

This year’s roster will feature seven new players. Junior transfer Zach Josepher from Division I Michigan State joins six freshmen that will fill out this year’s roster.

Two years ago it was a season of excitement after the Oswego State men’s ice hockey team reached the NCAA National Semifinal for the first time since the 2006-07 season, losing to St. Norbert College. Last year seemed like a season of disappointment after the Lakers fell to Adrian College in their second consecutive NCAA National Semifinal appearance.

Head coach Ed Gosek enters his ninth season with the team, compiling a 163-47-14 record in his first eight seasons. Gosek’s .759 winning percentage is highest among ice hockey head coaches in Oswego State history.

The Lakers begin the season ranked No. 2 in the preseason USCHO.com Men’s Ice Hockey Poll, receiving three first-place votes and 266 points. Oswego State sits 30 points behind defending national champion St. Norbert College, whom received the majority of first-place votes with 16.

Expectations for the team remain high despite losing six seniors to graduation. Replacing Kevin Huinink as team captain will be senior forward Andrew Mather, who was a bright spot for the Lakers in a 5-3 loss to Adrian in the Frozen Four. Mather finished with 28 points on eight goals and 20 assists in 27 games played. Mather recorded two goals and an assist for the Lakers against Adrian.

“He’s the right guy that they would follow,” Gosek said. “He’s the right guy that they respect for who he is. I couldn’t agree more. He sets a high standard for himself academically. He conducts himself in a manner in which we hold all our players to.”

The Lakers will have three assistant captains this season: senior forward Ian Boots, senior defenseman Jared Anderson and junior forward Jon Whitelaw. Boots led the team in points scored, assists and goals last season after transferring from Division I Ohio State. Boots tallied 40 points on 15 goals and 25 assists. Boots’ 40 points was 11th-most in Division III, earning him Second Team All-American honors.

Goaltender Paul Beckwith returns for his senior season in net for the Lakers, looking to stay healthy. Beckwith broke his collarbone on Dec. 4 at SUNY Geneseo and was never the same when he returned on Jan. 21 against Buffalo State. Juniors Dan Jones and Andrew Hare will back up Beckwith this season.

This year’s roster will feature seven new players. Junior transfer Zach Josepher from Division I Michigan State joins six freshmen that will fill out this year’s roster. Josepher, a defenseman from Wantagh, N.Y., finished his career with the Spartans with 55 games played, totaling 18 points on five goals and 13 assists.

The freshmen class features four forwards and two defensemen. Bobby Gertsakis and Nick Rivait look to replace Stephen Mallaro and Huinink on the defensive end and continue to improve on a defense that finished second in Division III last season, allowing just 2.07 goals per game. Gertsakis, a native of Burlington, Ont., played two seasons in the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) for the Burlington Cougars. With Oakville, Gertsakis played in 102 games, registering 57 points on 10 goals and 47 assists while compiling 121 penalty minutes. Rivait, a native of Kingsville, Ont., played two seasons with the Oakville Blades, appearing in 143 games. Rivait totaled 84 points on 12 goals and 72 assists, netting two game-winning goals.

Eli Kim-Swallow, Stan Smrke, Peter Rodrigues and Chris Carr round out the newcomers on the offensive end. Kim-Swallow, a native of Toronto, Ont., joins the Lakers after playing one season with the St. Michaels Buzzers and two seasons with the North York Rangers of the OJHL. In 102 games played, Kim-Swallow registered 66 points on 19 goals and 47 assists. Swallow is the son of former Laker captain Wayne Swallow. Smrke, a native of Ajax, Ont., played one year with the Brockville Braves of the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL), playing in 42 games, totaling 35 points on 17 goals and 18 assists. At 6-foot-6-inches, Smrke is the tallest player on this year’s roster. Rodrigues, a native of Markham, Ont., played for the hometown Markham Whalers of the OJHL. Rodrigues played in 75 games, scoring 61 points on 33 goals and 28 assists. Rodrigues recorded 11 power-play goals, two short-handed goals and five game-winning goals. Carr, the younger brother of junior defender Tim Carr, played two seasons with the Burlington Cougars of the OJHL, playing 116 games and scoring 162 points on 47 goals and 115 assists. Carr, a native of Burlington, Ont., scored 14 power-play goals, one short-handed goal and four power-play goals.

This year’s schedule will feature many familiar teams that have experience playing in the NCAA tournament. The non-conference schedule includes Elmira College (twice), Utica College (twice), Hobart, Hamilton and Curry. The annual Pathfinder Bank/Oswego Classic includes Connecticut College, Hamline and Neumann. The Lakers’ non-conference opponents for this season went a combined 117-71-27 last season. Four of the eight non-conference opponents appeared in last season’s NCAA tournament. Oswego State has eight games against teams ranked in the preseason top 15 (Elmira twice, Plattsburgh twice, Geneseo twice and Utica twice).

“The schedule speaks for itself,” Gosek said. “Our non-conference schedule does not provide us a breather by any means. Our league, top to bottom, every team has gotten better. Every team, every coach is out working hard to make our league better.”

Over the last two regular seasons, the Lakers have finished 30-2-0 against conference opponents, with losses coming at the hands of SUNY Geneseo in the 2009-10 season and Morrisville State College in the 2010-11 season. Oswego State has gone unblemished against archrival SUNY Plattsburgh over the past two years, including match ups in the SUNYAC playoffs. Six out of the nine SUNYAC teams finished with at least a .460 overall winning percentage and three teams (Oswego State, Plattsburgh and Geneseo) spent the majority of the year as a nationally-ranked team.

“If you want to be the best, if you want to have a shot at the end of the year, you need to play the best teams you can to expose your weaknesses,” Gosek said. “Things aren’t all rosy, but it prepares you and hardens you for what lies ahead in the playoffs.”

The Lakers open their regular season on Friday, Oct. 21, at Elmira before playing their home opener at the Campus Center Ice Arena on Saturday, Oct. 22, against the same Soaring Eagles team.