Oswego State sweeps conference rival

The Oswego State women’s hockey team gathers around the net before a home game against conference rival Neumann. The Lakers swept the weekend series.  (Nicole Sussman | The Oswegonian)
The Oswego State women’s hockey team gathers around the net before a home game against conference rival Neumann. The Lakers swept the weekend series. (Nicole Sussman | The Oswegonian)

The Oswego State women’s ice hockey team defended its home ice and secured two victories against conference rival Neumann University. The Lakers shut out the Knights, 3-0, on Sunday after winning 2-1 on Saturday in the Campus Center Ice Arena.

Senior forward Melissa Seamont scored twice and senior Catherine Cote recorded her second shutout of the season in Sunday’s victory.

“We shut them down,” Oswego State head coach Diane Dillon said. “We controlled the play. We were disciplined. We made them pay on the power play. We shut down their power play. We got good goaltending. It was hard-nose hockey.”

Seamont put the Lakers on the board with a power play goal at the 11:54 mark of the first period. Senior forward and captain Olivia Boersen advanced the puck to the net and took a wrist-shot that bounced off Neumann goaltender Julia Fair’s right shoulder. Seamont drove to the net for an easy tap-in.

“Honestly, it went off my shin pad,” Seamont said. “We just went to the net. It was kind of a scrum in front of the net.”

After the game, Dillon praised her veteran senior forward.

“Seamont is one of those players that people who don’t know her take her for granted, because she’s small,” Dillon said. “I think she’s technically the best skater we have on the team. The kid’s elusive. She’s going to the net hard. She’s not afraid to get there and tussle up and she’s getting the rewards.”

The Lakers doubled their lead at the 17:27 mark of the first period, when Alexa Aramburu tapped in a rebound from a Brennan Butler shot. It was the freshman forward’s first collegiate goal.

“Brennan [Butler] took it wide. She had pressure on her. She took it a little lower, I was calling for it in front and I tipped it with my back hand,” Aramburu said. “It was awesome. It was nice to get the first one out of the way. I’m ready to score more now.”

Seamont added her second goal of the game a little over a minute into the second period when she scored off a rebound from a Boersen shot that rang off the post.

“Boersen shot the puck, hit the post and then it was just sitting there, so I just picked up the garbage,” Seamont said.

The Lakers dominated possession, outshooting the Knights 36-17.

“We were doing the little things,” Aramburu said. “We were keeping the puck up and we were doing the things we had to do right. We kept one high, kept the pressure on them. They panicked with the puck a couple of times. We played Laker hockey.”

Though she was not called on often, Cote made 17 saves in goal for the Lakers en route to a shutout, her second straight win and her third victory of season. Despite the long periods of inaction for Cote, she said that she made sure to stay focused.

“I kept moving in the net, talking to myself,” Cote said. “I did everything I could to stay focused.”

On Saturday, Megan Hagg scored the game-tying goal on the power play with less than 10 minutes left in the third period. Emma Smetaniuk struck next with 40.2 seconds left in the five-minute overtime period as the Lakers earned their first conference win on Saturday, defeating Neumann in a 2-1 thriller against their conference rivals.

With the first overtime period about to end, senior forward Seamont pushed the puck into Neumann’s zone and fired a shot from just above the left-wing circle.

Knights’ goaltender Justina Mayr made a pad save, but Smetaniuk intercepted the defender’s clearing attempt at the blue line. She eluded a defender and ripped a shot past Mayr’s high glove side for the game-winner.

“I just came on the ice, went right into her end and just shot it,” Smetaniuk said.

The Lakers were outplayed during the first period and most of the second period. Neumann sophomore forward Lauren Cusack opened the scoring at the 10:51 mark of the first period when she sent a puck to net from behind the goal line. The Knights’ Megan Russelo took a shot that was blocked by senior defender and captain Jocelyn St. Clair. The rebound found Russelo and she sent it home, giving Neumann a 1-0 lead.

“We weren’t very good in the first period,” Dillon said. “We were getting pushed around. I don’t think we were ready for the physical contact and the intensity of Neumann. I think we got stronger as the game went on.”

The Lakers found their legs by the third period and at 10:19, Hagg broke through. With Russelo in the penalty box after a hit to the head, Hagg found a loose puck in the crease and stuffed it home.

“They kept battling,” Dillon said. “We controlled the majority of the third period. They found a way to win. You got to give them that.”

The weekend series was another installment in what has become a fierce rivalry between the two teams. The Lakers have faced Neumann in the ECAC West playoffs each of the last three seasons, with the Knights defeating the Lakers 3-0 in Oswego in last year’s matchup.

This weekend marked the first time this season that Dillon has started the same goaltender two games in a row. She said Cote’s play has given her an edge in the ongoing goaltending battle between her and sophomore Bridget Smith.

“We’re looking for the hot goalie,” Dillon said. “We’re looking for a goaltender who’s going to own that net. Right now, she’s our leading goaltender.”

The Lakers (4-1-1, 2-1-1 ECAC W) will face another conference opponent when they take on Chatham University Saturday at 8 p.m. Dillon believes her team can take the success they had this weekend and bring it into Chatham.

“Do we take this momentum into the week? Absolutely, we build on this and keep moving forward,” Dillon said. “It’s one of those things we have to carry through the week. We have to work this hard in practice, be this tough on each other so when game time comes, games are easier than practice.”