Two slow starts plagued No. 12 Oswego State (8-5-1, 15-6-2) last weekend as the Lakers fell to SUNY Geneseo, now No. 11, and The College of Brockport, 3-2 each night. The Lakers had not been swept over a weekend since White Out Weekend in December 2008.
On Saturday evening, the Lakers got off to a slow start in the opening frame and fell behind early. The Golden Eagles (5-8-1, 8-12-3) took a first-period lead and never looked back, starting the scoring at the 4:34 mark.
The play started when sophomore Jonathan Demme found fellow sophomore Chase Nieuwendyk on the dot in the left circle. Nieuwendyk sent a bouncing puck the way of sophomore Justin Gilbert, which got over the goalie’s glove to the right pipe and onto the stick of senior Chris Cangro for the finish.
Cangro’s goal was just one of several examples of bounces going against the Lakers throughout the weekend. Even though senior captain David Titanic recognized his team faced very solid goalies in each game, he also realized Oswego State will need some of those bounces in order to be more successful going forward.
“I give the two goalies that we played a lot of credit. They played great games against us, but I think it’s just about getting grittier, getting to the front of the net, doing the dirty things, getting in front of the goalie’s eyes and not letting the defense tie you up in front,” Titanic said. “Whether it has to go off your body and in or you bang in a greasy rebound, we have to change something and it has to come soon.”
Oswego State came right back at Brockport’s goaltender Aaron Green, but as he did for much of the evening, the junior stood tall. The Mount Albert, Ontario native finished the game with 45 saves. On the other end of the ice, Gilbert finished the contest with 21 shots stopped.
Around the midpoint of the period, the Golden Eagles would strike again when sophomore Shane Cavalieri scored. Freshman Nick Marinac and junior Troy Polino worked together to get the puck in the low slot for Cavalieri, who lifted the puck over Gilbert’s right shoulder to expand the lead to two.
As the period went on, Green stopped his share of shots, but the Lakers’ puck movement improved at the same time until the two factors came to a head at 18:05 of the period and the hosts found their response.
Freshman Stephen Johnson sent a puck to the point and onto the stick of junior assistant captain Bobby Gertsakis. From there, Gertsakis sent a shot to Green’s right and the goaltender sent it away with his blocker.
However, it found Chris Waterstreet’s stick and for the second night in the row, he grabbed the first goal for Oswego State.
In the second, the Lakers continued to step up their pressure and even though they produced their fewest shots in a period all night, the quality of scoring chances remained high.
However, Green and the Golden Eagles’ defense were up to the task and along with a strong effort by Gilbert and company, each side was held scoreless for the 20-minute span.
The scoreless period ended at 25:57 when Jesse Facchini scored the eventual game-winner at 4:02 of the third period.
The sophomore found a wide-open left side of the net with Gilbert defending the right side of the crease after the initial shot by freshman Rob Hall from the top of the right circle. Senior Brendan Rothfuss was awarded the secondary assist on the play.
After Facchini’s goal, the Lakers had trouble finding an equalizer and the search for a second goal started to seem like an unfruitful venture, until the Lakers’ captain delivered in his final regular season home game.
Freshman Chris Raguseo, who earned his first collegiate point at Brockport back in November, sent the puck behind the net and onto the stick of fellow freshman Matt Galati.
Galati sent the puck to the low slot for Titanic, who sent it home, scoring his eighth goal of the season and cutting the deficit to one.
Titanic said he was happy to grab a goal on such a special night, but said the experience was bittersweet due to the loss.
“G [Galati] made an unbelievable pass to me. I found some quiet ice there in the middle where no one was and I guess I closed my eyes and found the back of the net,” Titanic said. “It’s always nice to score, but when the outcome’s not there it’s kind of disappointing, especially on Senior Night.”
Head coach Ed Gosek called a timeout 28 seconds later to set up a plan for grabbing the game-tying goal. Gosek decided to pull Gilbert for the final 1:30. Waterstreet, Galati and Gertsakis each almost found the team’s third goal, but the buzzer sounded and Brockport walked away with the victory.
Gosek said he was not happy with the result on the scoreboard Saturday night, but was able to see the silver lining, even in defeat.
“I was proud of our guys,” Gosek said. “For the second night in a row they didn’t come unglued, we weren’t undisciplined, we stuck with our systems, guys didn’t try to do it as individuals, they stuck within the parameters of how we want to play, created some great opportunities and pucks didn’t fall.”
“The reality is, if you keep doing the right things sooner or later you’ll be rewarded for them,” Gosek said.
From the first puck drop on Friday, SUNY Geneseo (17-5-0, 11-2-0) came out faster and more aggressive than its counterpart. The Knights were winning the races to most pucks and taking more shots, recording five of the game’s first eight. However, Oswego State managed to strike first.
At 6:33 of the opening period, Waterstreet delivered the first goal of the game, as he did in Geneseo as well on Nov. 22.
Sophomore Sacred Heart transfer Morgan Bonner found Waterstreet just inside the slot and he fired home his fourth goal of the year, giving the hosts a 1-0 lead.
Just 15 seconds later, Raguseo was sent off for interference, opening the door for the Knights to even up the score.
With 41 seconds remaining on the Raguseo penalty, the visitors found an equalizer off the stick of senior Zachary Vit. One of the Knights four captains and reigning SUNYAC men’s ice hockey player of the week, Vit sent a shot off the pipe and past Gilbert at the 8:07 mark of the period.
The assists on the goal were awarded to juniors Justin Scharfe and Jack Caradonna.
Geneseo scored its second goal of the game 23 seconds later when junior Ryan Stanimir punched home a loose puck among a group of blue and white jersey in front of the Oswego State net. Matt Solomon picked up the assist.
As the period continued, the Knights appeared to have the upper hand and added another goal when sophomore David Ripple scored the eventual game-winner.
The goal came at the 19:13 mark, with Ripple finding the puck at the left pipe and putting it in off the back of Gilbert. Vit and freshman Jack Ceglarski contributed to the goal, as well.
The final horn of the first sounded less than a minute later and from that point on, the Lakers switched gears.
The slow start in the first 20 minutes came back to haunt Oswego State and Gosek said the team’s performance in the period had an impact on the outcome of the game.
“Us getting off to an awful slow start I think was a key factor to the game,” Gosek said. “We played a good second. We played a solid third. I think we were as good in the third as we were in the second, but you’re trying to dig yourself out of a whole because we weren’t ready to compete in the first period.”
In the second period, Oswego State out-shot Geneseo 18-to-1, and no shot was bigger than Galati’s at the 3:20 mark.
Just 37 seconds in the period, freshman Alex Botten was called for goalie interference giving the Knights two minutes on the man advantage. The Lakers successfully killed off the penalty right as Geneseo was caught for interference, setting the stage for the home team’s second goal.
Under a minute into the power play, the first Oswego State power play unit was able to circle the puck around a few times before Waterstreet was able to kick it out to Gertsakis in the high slot so the junior assistant captain could find Galati on the faceoff dot in the left circle for the finish.
The goal was Galati’s nation-leading 18th of the season and eighth on the power play. The tally was the final goal of the game.
From then on, the play of the two goaltenders took center stage, with each holding down their respective creases for the final 36:40.
“I think any goalie will tell you that he’d rather see more work than less on any given night. It definitely plays on your mind a little bit when you’re not seeing too much action. You’ve got to stay focused,” Gilbert said. “It was kind of like that up at Morrisville too. So, those are the most difficult games for me. What I try to do is just keep my eye on the puck the entire time and keep a clear head.”
Gilbert finished the game with 21 saves, while the Knights’ sophomore goalie Nick Horrigan stopped 35 of 37 Laker shots.
Gosek said he understands Oswego State is dealing with injuries at the moment, with three starting defensemen and two starting forwards out, but said he is also seeing a lack of energy on the ice.
“The reality is, there is a lot of injuries and a lot of banged up guys that they’re working and they’re trying and putting in their best effort,” Gosek said. “But, that same little jump and fire that we had earlier is lacking because they’re tired and beat up.”
This weekend, the Lakers finish off the regular season with a weekend at SUNY Potsdam (4-8-2, 9-12-2) and No. 4 SUNY Plattsburgh (18-3-2, 11-1-2) on Friday and Saturday, respectively.