It wasn’t the sight the Oswego State men’s ice hockey team and its fans wanted to see Saturday night at the Campus Center Ice Arena. As the final buzzer sounded in the SUNYAC Final, the Cardinals flocked together in celebration. Minutes later they were holding the SUNYAC trophy, with it an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Plattsburgh scored three unanswered goals over trailing mid way through the second period and held on late to capture its 21st SUNYAC Championship in program history, 2-0, over the Lakers. It was the Lakers first loss against their archrival in the last seven meetings. Oswego State had been 5-0-1 prior to Saturday’s conclusion.
After a scoreless first period, the Lakers took advantage of something the Cardinals typical don’t do: take penalties. Plattsburgh’s Paul Puglisi was called for hooking at 8:08 of the second period after taking a Laker player into the Cardinal net. On the same play, junior forward Chris Muise took a hard shot to the head along the end boards by a Cardinal defender, but went unseen by the officiating crew. Thirty-seven seconds later, Kyle Taylor was called for cross checking, giving the Lakers a 5-on-3 power play.
Junior forward Jon Whitelaw stretched his goal streak to seven games, putting the Lakers on the board first with the two-man advantage. Whitelaw received a pass from junior forward Paul Rodrigues at the left faceoff circle and a rocketed a slap shot past Plattsburgh goaltender Mathieu Cadieux stick side top shelf to put the Lakers up 1-0 at 9:15 of the second period. The Cardinals killed off the second penalty.
The Cardinals would tie the game before the end of the second period, as Jared Docking scored while sprawled out on the ice at 18:49. While lying on the ice, Docking corralled a loose puck in the slot and swept a shot past the outstretched glove of junior forward Andrew Hare. Hare had shifted to his left after shots from Nick Jensen and Puglisi, leaving the right side of the net open.
Plattsburgh took the crowd out of it early in the third period, scoring two more goal in the first nine minutes to build a 3-1 lead with 11:34 remaining in regulation. Ryan Craig gave the Cardinals their first lead of the game at 4:33 of the third period after pushing a loose puck in front of the net just past the goal line after an initial shot from Mike Grace. Roughly four minutes later, Jensen scored the Cardinals’ third goal directly off a faceoff win in the offensive zone. Plattsburgh’s Kyle Kudroch cleanly won a faceoff in the Lakers’ defensive zone and got the puck to Jensen. Jensen skated to the slot and wristed a backhand shot over the stick-side shoulder of Hare, who was late reacted to the puck.
Cadieux nearly shifted all the momentum over to the side of the Lakers after misplaying a puck behind the net. Cadieux attempt to play the puck along the endboards, but sophomore forward Kyle Badham intercepted the pass and angled a shot into the back of the empty net to bring Oswego State to within one with 11:27 remaining in regulation.
Trailing by a goal with 4:03 remaining, the Lakers had their best opportunity of the night to tie the game. Plattsburgh’s Patrick Jobb was called for slashing, giving the Lakers their final power play opportunity of the game. Oswego State had two shots go wide, one get blocked in front and the other stopped by Cadieux.
Sophomore forward David Titanic had his shot hit off the left pipe with less than two minutes to play in regulation, which served as the last opportunity to tie the game.
The Lakers pulled Hare with 15 seconds remaining, but were unable to get a shot off with the extra attacker.
The Lakers will now have to await word from the NCAA committee Sunday night during the selection show to see who and where they will play when the NCAA Tournament bracket is made public.