Well, it is the day that this campus has been waiting for since move-in day. It is Nov. 1. It is SUNY Fredonia on Friday. It is Buffalo State on Saturday. It is Laker hockey – opening hockey weekend in Oswego.
The last time fans saw their beloved Lakers, they were exiting stage right as the Wisconsin-Eau Claire Blugolds raised the Division III National Championship trophy. But tonight, the slate is wiped clean as the race to Mar. 21 and Maine begins.
Oswego State senior captain David Titanic said he was excited to start the regular season during a discussion after last weekend’s Laker Showcase.
“I’m excited. We’ve been competing against ourselves for so long it’s going to be nice to get someone else out there,” Titanic said. “Hopefully we’ll have a good first weekend and come out with a win.”
This evening, Oswego State will face the Fredonia Blue Devils in Act I of the weekend.
The Lakers have swept the Blue Devils the past two seasons and the visitors are coming off a season Fredonia head coach Jeff Meredith “would like to forget,” according to the school athletics website’s season preview.
SUNY Fredonia was the worst in Division III last season when it came to goals per game (1.77 goals per game); however, they have brought in some new recruits, including freshman forward Frank Hart (46 points in 51 games in juniors last season) and freshman defender Zach White (18 points in 44 games in juniors last season), to help up the offensive production in 2013-2014.
The Blue Devils also return three of their top five scorers from the 2012-13 roster. Junior forwards Stephen Castriota (four goals, eight assists, 12 points) and Jared Wynia (7, 2, 9) and sophomore forward Taylor Bourne (5, 5, 10) will spearhead the Fredonia attack as they try to get back to the postseason for the fifth consecutive season.
The last time the two teams met was the same place and same time, but with a different context: the 2013 SUNYAC Tournament semifinals, a 5-2 win for Oswego State.
Now, in the fall of 2013, the tables have turned a bit as the Bengals host a team led by nine seniors, as many as the Lakers have returners.
Among the seniors on Buffalo State are captains Mike Zannella, a forward who was in the top 20 in the conference for scoring last season, and Kevin Carr, a goalie who was top five in the SUNYAC for all three major goalie categories in 2012-2013. Both players were named to Second Team All-SUNYAC for the 2012-2013 season.
When it comes to weapons on the host team’s roster there are a few question marks.
Juniors Eli Kim-Swallow and Chris Carr both sat out of last weekend’s showcase with nagging injuries and, according to Lakers head coach Ed Gosek, both are “day-to-day.”
Beyond those two, Oswego State will have the rest of its returners at 100 percent this weekend and ready to start leaving their mark.
Titanic is coming off his most successful statistical season as a Laker, in which he accrued 11 goals and eight assists. Junior defender Bobby Gertsakis hopes to continue to build upon his success last season as well.
Gertsakis has seven goals and 10 assists during the 2012-2013 season, but more impressively he earned spots on the All-SUNYAC Tournament and All-NCAA Tournament teams during Oswego State’s postseason run.
Gosek is focused on this weekend’s games and confident in his team’s ability to produce a quality performance each night.
“We’re confident that we’ll have a good product on the ice,” Gosek said. “We’ll be disciplined. We’ll work hard. We can’t worry about how good Fredonia or Buffalo State are. We can only worry about ourselves and trying to make ourselves better this week in practice.”
Well, the saying only time will tell comes to mind at a time like this as the hours slip away before puck drop.
The Lakers will open their season tonight at 7 p.m. in the Campus Center Ice Arena and game two is tomorrow night, same time and place.