Lakers fall to Hamilton at home

Junior defender Jocelyn St. Clair looks up the ice past an opposing player. The Lakers fell to Hamilton College at home on Tuesday by a score of 3-1.

The Oswego State women’s ice hockey team found itself out-matched in a non-conference game against Hamilton College (3-1, 1-1 NESCAC), dropping its first game in 17 days by a score of 3-1.

The Lakers (4-4-1, 4-2 ECAC W) were outclassed by their NESCAC opponent, as the Continentals proved to be the faster, more efficient team. Oswego State was plagued by turnovers throughout the entirety of the game, as the team had trouble simply getting the puck across their own blue line.

“We got outworked, plain and simple,” Oswego State head coach Diane Dillon said. “We weren’t ready. We didn’t practice well and we played like we practiced.”

Both teams were not sharp at the start of the game, but the Continentals managed to score an early goal just seven minutes into the period. Senior Abby Runyon scored a rebound goal after finding the puck in front of the net after shots from juniors Gigi Fraser and Stephanie Lang. Both players were credited with the assist.

Hamilton lived in the Lakers’ zone in the first period and managed to fire 14 shots on net, compared to only four for Oswego State. The Lakers could not gain any momentum on offense due to their uncharacteristically high number of turnovers. Hamilton was intercepting passes and turned them into scoring opportunities, many of which were saved by sophomore goalie Bridget Smith.

Smith, a two-time ECAC West goalie of the week, performed well in the first period despite allowing the early goal. Smith registered 13 saves while Continental senior goaltender Rebecca Hazlet recorded four.

The Lakers came out fighting in the second period, and seemed to have renewed energy. They scored three minutes into the period when junior Emma Smetaniuk found the back of the net to even up the score 1-1. The goal was Smetaniuk’s third of the season and was assisted by junior captain Olivia Boersen, her first of the season.

The tie score was short lived, however, as Hamilton forward Stephanie Lang scored just 36 seconds later. Lang’s goal, her fourth, was assisted by freshman Alicia Racicot along with Fraser. Racicot’s assist was the first of her career. Dillon thought this was the turning point of the game.

“Any shift right after a goal is huge momentum-shifter, whether the goal is for or against,” Dillon said. “When you’ve just scored, you want to get the puck deep in their zone and keep attacking and we couldn’t do that. We gave them the puck back deep in our territory and we paid for it.”

After Smetaniuk’s goal, the Lakers struggled offensively the rest of the period, as they only managed to put two more shots on goal, both of which came from Smetaniuk. Hamilton increased its lead to two after freshman Megan Fitzgerald scored a power play goal, her third goal of the season, with about six minutes remaining in the period, following a high-sticking penalty on Smetaniuk. The goal, assisted by freshman Hannah Bartlett and Fraser, gave the Continentals a 3-1 lead that they would never relinquish.

The Lakers failed to make a dent in Hamilton’s lead despite an increased effort by the offense in the third period. Despite going on two power plays, Oswego State only managed a mediocre three shots in the final 20 minutes of the game.

The loss was tough for the Lakers, but coach Dillon hopes it will motivate the team to focus on improving.

“I hope this game serves as a wake-up-call and fires the girls up,” Dillon said. “We came out flat and that was unacceptable and I let them know that. We’re going to have a tough few days of practices and hopefully we’ll be ready for Chatham this weekend.”

The Lakers’ loss against Hamilton opened a six-game home stand, which continues next weekend against Chatham University (1-5, 0-4 ECAC W). Oswego State will close out the semester against Amherst College (1-3, 1-1 NESCAC) on Dec. 18.

When the Lakers return for the second half of their season, they will have a home-ice advantage, with eight of their 12 remaining games to be played at the Campus Center Arena.

Oswego State will host St. Norbert College, Buffalo State, Stevenson University and Elmira College, and will travel to SUNY Plattsburgh and SUNY Cortland to round up their schedule. Dillon has a simple message for her team heading forward: play together.

“We have to have everyone on the same page and stick to the game plan and we can do a much better job of doing that,” Dillon said. “It all comes down to being focused and making plays, doing the little things right.”