Lakers bounce back to split weekend

(Seamus Lyman | The Oswegonian)
(Seamus Lyman | The Oswegonian)

The Oswego State men’s ice hockey team picked up its first victory of the 2013-2014 season this evening with a 3-2 decision over the visiting Buffalo State Bengals.

After a heart-breaking loss in overtime yesterday to SUNY Fredonia, by the same score, the Lakers quickly regrouped to get back to even in the standings.

Lakers head coach Ed Gosek felt his team, especially the younger guys, responded well Saturday after the result the night before and sees it as a good sign going forward.

“We were hard on them today,” Gosek said. “Last night, not taking anything away from Fredonia, but we beat ourselves.”

In the opening period, physicality was the name of the game from the first puck drop.

It took a good 10 seconds for the opening faceoff to be won and Gosek recognized the style of play quickly, putting five skaters 5-foot-11 and taller on the ice for the game’s second shift.

In the first five minutes, bodies were hitting the boards all over the place and the noise was unmistakeable in every corner of the arena. Thus, it was only appropriate that the game’s first score come in a physical, messy manner.

At 5:19 in the period, it was the Lakers’ biggest line getting things started. Freshman Shawn Hulshof (6-foot two) sent a slap shot from atop the left circle on net and into traffic. Chris Waterstreet, a 6-foot four freshman, sent the puck freshman Dylan Smith’s (6-foot one) way for the finish, giving Oswego State a 1-0 lead.

It only took Buffalo State three minutes and seven seconds to respond with a goal of its own.

Just 26 seconds after Zawadzki wowed the crowd with an incredible sequence in which he made a diving save, Bengals freshman Adam Rossi poked home a rebound passed the Lakers net-minder to tie the game at one. The play started at the top of the right circle with a shot by senior Jason Cleaver, who received the primary assist. The secondary assist was awarded to freshman Jake Rosen.

The second period, much like Friday night, was when play started to pick up offensively. The three goals of the period were scored in a three minute and thirty-five second span during the heart of the frame, from the 10:01 to 13:36 in the period.

Gosek recognized the importance of that sequence and felt his team played with resilience.

“There are certain points in a game where you feel momentum shift one way or another,” Gosek said. “That’s when you have to be at your best and you have to be focused.”

Oswego State got the scoring started on the power play, as freshman Alex Botten notched his first collegiate goal, giving his team a 2-1 lead, assisted by fellow freshmen Stephen Johnson and Kenny Neil.

The play was made possible by a characteristic that was absent from the hosts play last night: patience. Johnson had the chance to take a shot, but cycled back to the top of the right faceoff circle where he found Botten. Botten took the puck in the high slot and sent a bullet past Buffalo State senior goalie Kevin Carr.

Botten’s shot was just one of three to get past the veteran goalie who finished the game with 50 saves.

Less than three minutes later the Bengals had a response to tie the game back up at two, as freshman Taylor Pryce took advantage of a bad defensive zone turnover by Oswego State’s Brian Hennessey.

The visitors were swarming the zone when Hennessey’s turnover found Pryce at the point. He brought the puck down the slot without being picked up and beat Zawadzki glove side to erase his team’s deficit. The goal was Pryce’s second collegiate point after picking up an assist last night in Cortland.

The goal by Pryce silenced the Campus Center crowd that had noticeably come to life following Botten’s goal; however, Botten and his comrades on the second line would bring back the energy and seal the game less than a minute later.

This time, Botten joined Neil in setting the table for their teammate Matt Galati, who took advantage and gave the Bengals their just desert as beat Carr five-hole for the eventual game winner.

Galati’s goal was the second for the Oswego State second line; a line which totaled five points tonight foreshadowing potential for much more success in the coming games.

“We’ve been practicing well for the past six weeks,” Botten said. “Our lines been gelling. Our lines doing really well right now and we’re building chemistry and hopefully we can keep generating the same offense we did tonight.”

The final period of play tonight did not contain any goal-scoring, but Oswego State still looked impressive as they dictated play for the better part of the 20 minute frame, outshooting the Bengals 26-1.

Buffalo State, led by senior captain Mike Zannella, came out in the period visibly energized and looking to get an equalizer.

They had their first chance in the opening 30 seconds, but the defensive pairing of Mac Scott and Bobby Gertsakis did a good job of shoeing away a loose puck in front of freshman goalie Matt Zawadzki. Zawadzki was a late addition to the starting line up as he made his Oswego State, and collegiate, debut, earning the win while saving 24 Bengals shots.

The freshman felt really comfortable in between the pipes tonight and confident with the six defensemen Gosek had playing in front of him.

“I felt great. They were blocking shots in front of me, we were talking together and working together,” Zawadzki said. “We’re all developing that chemistry together, having trust in each other, and that’s where we’re moving forward. Tonight was a demonstration that we’re working better together and we’re moving forward to keep building off that.”

Following that first opportunity, sophomore defenseman Sean Hrivnak was called for cross checking just 41 seconds into the period. The Lakers took their first shot of the period off the ensuing faceoff and would not look back from there.

With tonight’s win, Oswego State improves to 1-1 on the season, while Buffalo State falls to the same record. The Lakers are back in action next Saturday night, on the road, at their SUNYAC rivals the SUNY Cortland Red Dragons (1-1), 4-2 winners over SUNY Fredonia tonight.