Since its contest against Neumann on Dec. 2, the Oswego State women’s ice hockey team has played 11 games and improved its overall record to 9-8-2. The Lakers played against six different teams, both conference and non-conference, with both exhilarating victories and tough loses as the end result.
The series against Neumann was a success for the Lakers, who swept the Knights for the first time, 4-1 in game one and 3-1 in the second contest. After a bitter double-overtime loss to Neumann in last season’s playoffs, the Lakers were determined to be the better team.
“The Neumann weekend was a great weekend for us,” head coach Diane Dillion said. “To take two from Neumann was a big deal for us.”
Following the series, the Lakers traveled to Hamilton College and beat the Continentals in overtime to earn the 3-2 non-conference victory. The Lakers played Hamilton again on Jan. 17, this time losing 3-2 in regulation.
The last game before Christmas was arguably one of the most challenging of this season’s schedule with the Lakers traveling to Amherst College to face the 2010 National Champions. The Lakers fell 6-0, but Dillon said she believed it was a good experience for the team.
“For us that was more about as a program being recognized by some of the top teams in other leagues,” Dillon said. “It was good in that we got to see how a top team from another league operates.”
The first series of 2012 was against Chatham University, a team that has struggled in recent years. A 10-0 shutout followed by a 9-3 victory helped the Lakers adjust after a few weeks off from hockey.
“[Chatham] gave us a chance to get going again, get the legs moving, have some success,” Dillon said. “It was a great way for us to get back into it.”
The tables were turned when Plattsburgh came to town and blanked the Lakers 5-0 and 6-0 in consecutive games. Contrary to what the scoreboard would lead you to believe, Dillon said the team played well against the elite team, who was able to capitalize on every mistake.
“The games were better than the scores,” Dillon said. “While it was frustrating to be blanked two games in a row…I think that’s really what got us amped up for Buffalo [State].”
The Lakers’ most recent series against Buffalo State was a must-win situation since the remainder of the team’s schedule is incredibly challenging. Knowing that they had to sweep the Bengals, Oswego State took an early lead in the first game scoring three goals in the first period. The final score was 7-0, a huge win for the Lakers, and a devastating defeat for the Bengals who was handed its worst loss of the season.
In game two the Bengals came into the game roaring, scoring first and keeping the Lakers off the scoreboard for the first 40 minutes of the game. In the third period the Lakers got it together and scored three goals to earn the comeback win, 3-1, and the series sweep.
“Those four points were crucial to us,” Dillon said. “I think the team really realized how important it was and we came ready to play.”
Dillon said that while the team had many great wins over the winter break, the losses culminated to be the best team-building experience.
“Even though we lost against Hamilton and Plattsburgh, we played pretty well,” Dillon said. “We started to come together as a team during those team losses and I think you saw the results of that against Buffalo [State].”
This weekend the Lakers hit the ice again in what is anticipated to be one of the most interesting and challenging series of the Lakers’ schedule.
Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) will come to Oswego this weekend in search of vengeance. Last season the Lakers pulled off an incredible victory against RIT who was top-ranked and undefeated before facing the Lakers. RIT lost the game, the only one of their season, on Senior Day, a game that was devastating for the Tigers.
Ironically, this Saturday is Oswego State’s Senior Day and RIT will surely want to show the Lakers how losing feels.
“There’s a lot of emotion riding on this game,” Dillon said.
A win against RIT in back-to-back seasons would be a great feat for the Lakers, who will also be looking to earn a few more points in the conference. Friday is also Oswego State’s “Pink the Rink” game, when the team will wear pink jerseys for breast cancer awareness. The team is also auctioning off one pink jersey.
The Lakers faceoff against the Tigers at the Campus Center Ice Arena on Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m.