The last thing the Oswego State men’s hockey team wanted to do in its first home game of the season was get shut out, but it was clearly a wakeup call. After a disappointing 2-0 exhibition loss in front of a sell-out crowd on Family and Friends Weekend, the Lakers responded with 16 combined goals in back-to-back home wins to open the regular season. Each game has brought more results than the last, and that is a good trend for the team to be riding into the first road trip of the season. Through three games, only two of which counted, here are my observations.
U.S. impressed. I mentioned two weeks ago that the United States U18 team was going to pose a bigger challenge than exhibitions past, and that turned out to be a vast understatement.Although the Lakers had their share of goal-scoring opportunities, the U.S. came away with a fairly sound 2-0 victory on the Lakers’ home ice. USA goaltender Thatcher Demko played the game of his life in front of various NHL scouts in attendance, and his shutout of Oswego State sent 3,000 fans home hungrier for a goal than they were upon arrival.
Red Dragon Slaying. The Lakers played a less than perfect defensive game to open the regular season Friday against SUNY Cortland, but they put up seven goals to win a back-and-forth affair, 7-4. Seven different Lakers scored goals, with three points from senior Luke Moodie, giving him 14 career against the Red Dragons. Senior goaltender Andrew Hare did not escape the first six minutes of the game, as he was pulled after Cortland grabbed an early 2-0 lead. Senior Dan Jones got the win in relief.
Soaring over the Eagles. Saturday night saw even more Oswego State offense as they found the net nine times, but put together a much more complete game, shutting out the Elmira College Soaring Eagles to the tune of 9-0. The star of the game was senior forward Paul Rodrigues, who scored four goals, and added an assist, falling one point shy of his monster six-point night in Morrisville in February last season. Andrew Hare rebounded with a 26-save shutout, his second consecutive blanking of Elmira.
Race to 100. Line-mates Paul Rodrigues and Luke Moodie are both closing in on the “century mark” for career points as Oswego State Lakers. Jon Whitelaw became the first current Laker to join the club last season. Moodie sits at 96 and Rodrigues is at 94.
Because they contribute to each other’s goals often, it is possible they hit the milestone during the same game in the near future. No other Laker senior is likely to reach 100, with Tyler Leimbrock’s 52 points being the next highest mark on the list.
Hitting the highway. The next three games will take place away from the Campus Center Ice Arena, all within SUNYAC play. This weekend they travel to Brockport Friday night, followed by a game in Geneseo on Saturday. The Lakers are in Morrisville on Friday, Nov. 9, their only game that weekend. It has been a frantic start to SUNYAC play, with all but three teams in conference already possessing at least one SUNYAC win, and all but two with a point in the standings. The Lakers went 2-0 against The College at Brockport and SUNY Geneseo last season, and 1-0-1 against Morrisville State. They won all of the road games in those season series.
Offensively, one could not ask for a better start to the regular season as a Lakers fan, but the defensive performance against Cortland left a lot to be desired. Tremendous adjustments were made against Elmira, but the test of sustainability will begin during the upcoming road trip. The Lakers will need to be solid defensively to win a national championship, but averaging eight goals a game certainly does not hurt.