Offense propels Lakers

Photo by Bill Portoghese | The Oswegonian

Junior forward and assistant captain Jon Whitelaw had himself a nice weekend of hockey, tallying five goals in two games to help the Oswego State men’s ice hockey team defeat SUNY Fredonia, 10-2, on Friday night and Buffalo State, 4-1, on Saturday night at the Campus Center Ice Arena.

Whitelaw scored twice against the Blue Devils and netted his first career hat trick against the Bengals, as the Lakers remain unbeaten in conference play and close in on home ice advantage throughout the SUNYAC playoffs.

The Lakers returned home from a four-game road trip to play their first game in front of the student section since Dec. 10 against Hobart College and put up a season-high 10 goals on Fredonia. It was the first time the Blue Devils had visited the Campus Center Ice Arena since eliminating the Lakers in the SUNYAC Semifinal, 2-1, in overtime last year.

Oswego State (19-2-2 overall, 12-0-2 SUNYAC) broke the game open with five goals in the opening period, as junior forwards Luke Moodie and Chris Brown scored goals 42 seconds apart to give the Lakers a two-goal lead 5:29 into the game. Whitelaw netted the team’s third and fifth goals of the period, with junior forward Chris Ayotte’s sixth goal of the season sandwiched in between.

“We worked hard to create opportunities in the first period, which was a positive,” Oswego State head coach Ed Gosek said.

Fredonia goaltender Mark Friesen lasted all of 7:57 in net, allowing four goals on just seven shots faced. Jeff Holoway replaced Friesen, but couldn’t silence the Laker attack, allowing six goals on 36 shots faced.

Junior forward Chris Muise recorded three points in the second period with two goals and an assist on a power-play goal by senior forward and assistant captain Ian Boots. Muise scored his first goal of the game at 4:17 of the second period and added his second on the power play at 17:28. Muise finished with two goals and two assists for a game-high four points.

“I thought it would be a 2-1, 3-2 type of game,” Gosek said. “It was one of those games where you get up on them early and things start rolling.

Junior forward Matt Singleton and junior defenseman Taylor Farris each tallied their third goals of the season to round out the 10 goals scored by the Lakers on Friday night. Singleton’s goal came at 13:30 of the second period and Farris’ goal came at 5:51 of the third period.

Junior forwards Paul Rodrigues and Tyler Leimbrock, junior defenseman Jesse McConney and senior defenseman Hank van Boxmeer all had two assists for the Lakers.

Fredonia’s Mike Monfredo and Mike Muhs scored goals for the Blue Devils.

Junior goaltender Andrew Hare finished with 25 saves on 27 shots faced to earn the victory in net for the Lakers.

Saturday’s game against Buffalo State proved more challenging for the Lakers, as they trailed 1-0 6:46 into the second period. Oswego State entered the game with a 29-0-4 all-time record against the Bengals.

The Lakers remained unbeaten against Buffalo State thanks in part to Whitelaw’s natural hat trick, capped off by an empty-net goal with 20 seconds remaining in regulation. Whitelaw leads the team in scoring with 34 points on 15 goals and 19 assists. His 15 goals leads the team.

“We knew it was going to be a nitty-gritty game, but we persevered and walked away with the win,” Whitelaw said.

It was the Bengals, however, who got on the board first, as Justin Knee knocked home a rebound attempt off a shot by Eric Bajc from the right faceoff circle. Bajc intercepted a pass along the boards by Hare and threw a shot on net that deflected off the blocker and right to the stick of Knee in front of the net.

The Lakers responded with four unanswered goals, the first by Leimbrock at 13:08 of the second period. Muise led Leimbrock with a perfectly placed pass in front of the net that Leimbrock tapped into the back of the net while being taken down from behind by Bajc. Bajc was given a two-minute cross-checking penalty as a result.

Oswego State capitalized on the power play, taking the lead just 30 seconds later on Whitelaw’s first of the game. Whitelaw wristed a shot from the left faceoff circle that beat Buffalo State goalie Kevin Carr glove side top shelf.

“I thought our guys did a good job of not getting frustrated,” Gosek said. “They have matured as the season has gone on and tonight showed that. It was a game where we very easily could have gotten frustrated.”

Whitelaw scored his second power-play goal of the game at 8:35 of the third period at the tail end of a boarding penalty to Buffalo State’s Billy Strakosch. Ayotte fed a pass to Whitelaw, who had gotten behind two Bengals defenders and put the puck past Carr glove side.

Whitelaw completed the natural hat trick with an empty-net goal.

“I wanted [the hat trick] pretty badly,” Whitelaw said. “It’s a monkey off my back.”

Hare recorded his 16th win in net this season, finishing with 28 saves on 29 shots faced. Carr took the loss, finishing with 37 saves on 40 shots faced.

The Lakers close out the regular season with “White Out” Weekend, as Oswego State hosts archrival SUNY Plattsburgh on Friday and SUNY Potsdam on Saturday. The Lakers clinch home ice throughout the SUNYAC playoffs with a win in one of the two games.