Men’s hockey off to impressive start

Men's Ics Hockey vs Elmira
Photo taken by Jessica Bagdovitz | The Oswegonian

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the holes that the Oswego State men’s hockey team needed to fill. Two weeks into the season, they’ve already made a lot of progress. A home and home sweep of sixth-ranked Elmira, along with a convincing 6-0 shutout of SUNY Cortland highlighted the Lakers 3-1 start to 2011-12 and has them well on their way to Lake Placid.

Offensive Defense. A big part of the Lakers’ hot start on offense (5.5 goals per game) is due to the contributions coming from the blue line. Taylor Farris and Jesse McConney have already racked up two goals each, while Tim Carr and newcomer Zack Josepher have also lit the lamp through the first three games. Oswego State already has five defensemen with multiple points.

Hare-raising play. Perhaps surprisingly, Andrew Hare has become the go-to guy between the Oswego pipes, playing in all four games to date and winning three of them. Along the way he has posted a 1.65 goals-against average, a .942 save percentage, and one shutout (Oct. 28 at SUNY Cortland). Hare joined the Lakers under a bizarre set of circumstances last season when forward Joe Hall was forced into a backup goalie role for a pair of games in which Paul Beckwith wasn’t healthy enough to suit up behind Dan Jones. The Lakers then brought Hare in from Division I Niagara University and they’re probably happy that they did.

Junior jumpstart. The chemistry of Jon Whitelaw, Luke Moodie and Paul Rodrigues has been evident ever since the trio was assembled during their freshman year. So far in 2011-12, the three juniors have combined for six goals and 18 points. Whitelaw and Rodrigues lead the SUNYAC in scoring, respectively. Moodie’s three goals tie him for the conference lead. The line also fills three of the top four spots atop the team scoring leaderboard.

Halloween Mystery. The Laker’s loss to Utica on Saturday, Oct. 29 did not come without controversy. Trever Hertz’s eventual game-winning goal scored with 58 seconds remaining in the second period was put under the microscope when it appeared to hit the crossbar. The ruling on the ice was that the puck entered the net, presumably hitting the back bar inside before quickly ricocheting out. The officials conferred among themselves and with the goal judge at the Utica Memorial Auditorium before deciding that the goal did indeed count. The Lakers would go on to lose 3-2.

Streaky SUNYAC schedule. Starting Friday, the Lakers play their next three games at home against SUNY Geneseo, the College at Brockport and Morrisville State before heading on the road for four games. The road trip will take the Lakers to SUNY Fredonia, Buffalo State, Plattsburgh and Potsdam. With all seven being conference games, this streak, which runs through to the beginning of December will have major implications on the conference standings heading into semester break. In a season in which the SUNYAC looks to be a lot more competitive than years past, this coming stretch may very well be the most important of the season.

We’ve been spoiled by unbeaten starts to Oswego seasons lately, but a 3-1 record with three of four games against top 15 opponents is pretty impressive any way you slice it. Truthfully, there isn’t much not to like about this team through four games – they seem to be in mid-season form already. The key to get where the Lakers ultimately want to be is to sustain that form throughout the season, and within that principle is where the best measurements can be made. Upon assessing a team, you look for certain weaknesses and with the way these guys are going – you’d be hard pressed to find one so far.