Despite trailing by two goals early in the first period, the second-ranked Oswego State men’s ice hockey team rallied past sixth-ranked Elmira College, 7-3, on Friday night at the Murray Athletic Center in the season opener for both teams.
Junior forwards Luke Moodie and Tyler Leimbrock each tallied a goal and two assists for the Lakers, who won their fourth consecutive game against the Soaring Eagles and won their season opener for the third straight season.
Elmira (0-1-0 overall, 0-0-0 ECAC West) jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 20 seconds into the first period when Jesper Strale received a pass from Kevin Willer and beat senior goaltender Paul Beckwith. The Soaring Eagles took a two-goal lead at 14:14 of the first period on a goal by Wes Consorti. Brendan Sanders and Colin Hoey received assists on Consorti’s goal.
The Lakers (1-0-0 overall, 0-0-0 SUNYAC) cut the deficit in half when junior forward Chris Ayotte scored while down a man. With one second remaining on a slashing penalty by the Lakers, junior forward Chris Brown found Ayotte, who beat Elmira goaltender Darren McDonald for the Lakers’ first goal of the season.
Following the end of the first period, Oswego State head coach Ed Gosek made a change at goal, replacing Beckwith with junior goalie Andrew Hare. Beckwith finished with 13 saves on 15 shots faced.
After an uneasy first period, the Lakers broke out for three goals in the second period and Hare kept the Soaring Eagles scoreless in the frame, recording 10 saves. Moodie tied the game at two halfway through the second period and junior forward and assistant captain Jon Whitelaw gave the Lakers their first lead of the game three minutes later. Junior forward Paul Rodrigues and Whitelaw were credited with assists on Moodie’s goal and Moodie earned the assist on Whitelaw’s goal. Leimbrock closed out the scoring in the third period with the eventual game-winning goal at 16:14 of the second period. Senior forward and assistant captain Ian Boots and senior defenseman Hank Van Boxmeer were credited with assists on Leimbrock’s goal.
The Soaring Eagles cut the Laker lead to one on the power play eight minutes into the third period. Following an interference penalty to junior defenseman Jesse McConney, Kevin Willer capitalized on the man advantage, beating Hare to pull Elmira into striking distance. But it was the only goal that Hare would allow in his 40 minutes of play, as he finished the game with 21 saves to earn the win in net for the Lakers.
Leading 4-3 with five minutes remaining in regulation, the Lakers tallied three goals before the final whistling to make the score more lopsided than the game would indicated. Junior defenseman Zach Josepher recorded his first goal as a Laker at 15:53 with assists from Moodie and Rodrigues. Sophomore forwards Kyle Badham and David Titanic would also register goals before the end of regulation. Leimbrock was credited with assists on both goals to give him a three-point night.
The Lakers’ first line of Boots, senior forward and captain Andrew Mather and junior forward Chris Muise did not provide the Lakers with much offense, recording just one assist. However, the Lakers got the most contributions from the second line of Moodie, Whitelaw and Rodrigues and the fourth line of Badham, Leimbrock and Titanic. The second line finished with seven points on the fourth line finished with five points.
McDonald finished with 28 saves on 35 shots faced in a losing effort for the Soaring Eagles.
The Lakers finished 0-for-5 on the power play, while Elmira finished 1-for-7 with the man advantage.
The Lakers and Soaring Eagles will meet again on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. at the Campus Center Ice Arena for the latter part of their home-and-home series.