It has been since Dec. 10 against Hobart College that the student body has seen the Oswego State men’s ice hockey team in action. Over the nearly two-month stretch, the Lakers have played eight games, accumulating a 7-1-0 record over that stretch, and own the No. 2 ranking in the latest USCHO.com Men’s Poll.
Oswego State played its first game of the winter session on Dec. 30 during the team’s annual Pathfinder Bank Oswego Hockey Classic, where it hosted Connecticut College in the first round. Junior forward Luke Moodie scored twice and the Lakers defeated the Camels, 5-1, to advance to the championship game. The victory would be short lived, as Neumann University shut out the Lakers, 3-0, to claim the Pathfinder Bank Championship. It was the first time the Lakers had been shut out since Jan. 18, 2002, losing to RIT, 5-0. RIT has since moved up to the Division I level.
“We really did not play that poorly,” head coach Ed Gosek said. “We had an awful lot of opportunities in the first period. Near the end, the frustration with the officiating, frustration with our inability to put something up on the scoreboard, lead to the boiling point. We had a few guys make decisions that were not in the best interest of the team.”
Discipline was an issue in the final 20 minutes of the game against Neumann, as the Lakers tallied 56 penalty minutes. Freshman defenseman Bobby Gertsakis, senior forward Andrew Mather and junior forward Paul Rodrigues were all given 10-minute misconduct penalties in the third period. Junior forward Chris Brown received a five-minute charging penalty as well. All four players were kept out of the lineup during the team’s 3-1 victory over Curry College on Jan. 13.
“It’s easy to blame the players, but I really don’t blame anybody but myself,” Gosek said. “You get lulled into a false sense of security that things are going well because you’re winning games. For the most part the guys are working hard.”
The Lakers avenged an early season loss to Utica College the following night, defeating the Pioneers, 5-2, in a closely officiated game. The Lakers were called for 15 penalties, while Utica was whistled for 13 penalties. The Oswego State penalty kill unit shut down the Utica power play, as the Pioneers finished 0-for-12 with the extra skater.
Oswego State briefly returned to conference play on Friday, Jan. 20, against SUNY Cortland. The second line of Rodrigues, and junior forwards Luke Moodie and Jon Whitelaw combined for six points on three goals and three assists and the third line of Brown, freshman forward Chris Carr and sophomore forward David Titanic combined for six points on two goals and four assists.
Following the Cortland game, the Lakers began a four-game road trip starting with Hamilton College in the team’s final non-conference game of the regular season. Oswego State led 1-0 after two periods before blowing the game open with a five-goal third period, outshooting the Continentals, 21-4, in the frame.
Last weekend, the Lakers traveled to SUNY Geneseo and The College at Brockport, two teams desperate to secure a playoff spot. Oswego State fell behind after the first period in both games before rallying back to secure four points over the weekend, keeping them ahead of SUNY Plattsburgh in the conference standings. Geneseo led 1-0 after the first period, but Oswego State scored four unanswered, including senior defenseman Jared Anderson’s first collegiate goal. Anderson, who lost his entire sophomore season to a severe shoulder injury, was mobbed by teammates when he came to the bench.
“We have high expectations for him,” Gosek said. “He’s certainly been through a lot. People don’t know the half of it. It was nice for him to get this for sure. Well deserved.”
There have been a number of bright spots for the Lakers during the winter session, but Brown’s impressive play may be the brightest. Brown, who tallied just a goal and three assists in 11 games last season, recorded a hat trick against Brockport and has scored a goal in each of the last three games. In the last four games, Brown has five goals and two assists.
“He’s certainly playing well,” Gosek said. “Since even before the tournament you could see him starting to find his groove and starting to gain some momentum. Chris Carr and David Titanic are certainly playing better than they did last semester and a lot of it is Brown making it happen.”
The top three scorers on the team, Whitelaw, Moodie and Rodrigues, all play on the same line and have had tremendous success working together. Despite being held in check last weekend, Moodie scored eight goals during the winter session, Whitelaw has two goals and six assists and Rodrigues has a goal and four assists. Whitelaw, Moodie and Rodrigues are the only three players on the team that are averaging more than a point per game.
The Lakers have received strong goaltending from junior goaltender Andrew Hare, who has had to take over for an injured Paul Beckwith. Hare is 13-2-2 with a 1.91 goals against average and a .923 save percentage. Hare’s goals against average ranks fifth in Division III.
Oswego State is 16-2-2 overall and 9-0-2 in SUNYAC. The Lakers lead archrival Plattsburgh by three points in the standings, but are just a game up in the loss column. The two teams meet on Friday, Feb. 17, at the Campus Center Ice Arena.
The Lakers play their final regular season road game on Saturday, Feb. 4, when they travel to Morrisville State College to face off against a very depleted Mustang team. Morrisville is coming off a 12-3 blowout at the hands of Buffalo State in which the Mustangs committed 23 penalties for 114 penalty minutes and had several players ejected. The Mustangs lead Division III in penalty minutes per game with 26.45.