Last weekend marked the end of the season for the Oswego State women’s hockey team. The Lakers finished the 2013-2014 campaign with back-to-back home games against No. 1 SUNY Plattsburgh and dropped both contests, losing 2-0 on Saturday after falling 1-0 on Friday.
The two losses give the Lakers a final regular season record of 16-8-1 (10-5-1 ECAC West), as Oswego State clinched the No. 3 seed in the ECAC West playoffs.
Plattsburgh took the lead in game one with only 28 seconds remaining in the second period off a shot by Chelsea VanGlahn, beating junior goaltender Bridget Smith.
Smith stepped up her game after the goal and finished the game with 34 saves on 35 shots. The Laker defense played well, especially on the penalty kill. Oswego State did not yield any power play goals to their opponents, going 7-for-7 on the penalty kill.
However, the Lakers were not able to cash in on their four power play opportunities. These missed opportunities, coupled with the stellar play of both the Cardinals and their goaltender Syndey Aveson eventually led to a Laker loss.
Aveson turned away all 18 Laker shots in her shutout performance.
The Lakers hoped Saturday would be a different story, but Plattsburgh stuck with its game plan that earned it a win on Friday.
Oswego State head coach Diane Dillon elected to start sophomore Tori Travato in goal, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.
Saturday’s game was similar to Friday in that it was a well-fought defensive battle. Like the first game, the Cardinals got on the board first, this time in the first period.
Giovanna Senese scored at the 12:12 mark in the opening period and just five minutes later, VanGlahn doubled her weekend scoring total with Plattsburgh’s second goal of the game.
The Lakers would hold the Cardinals to two, however, and finished the game on a strong defensive note. Trovato ended the game with 37 saves on 39 shots.
The Lakers only mustered 10 shots on net, all of which were turned away by Aveson, who recorded her second consecutive shutout.
While the final scores were not in Oswego State’s favor, the Lakers played two stellar games against the No. 1 team in the nation.
Coming into the weekend, Plattsburgh’s league-leading offense averaged five goals per game, but the Lakers held the Cardinals to only three in two.
“We spent a lot of time in our own end but at the same time we played them pretty tight,” Dillon said.
Although the Cardinals came away with two wins, they weren’t easy.
“We have a renewed confidence in our goaltending,” Dillon said on the play of the team’s goaltenders, who combined made a total of 70 saves.
The Lakers also held Plattsburgh scoreless on the power play over the weekend, despite giving the Cardinals 10 opportunities.
“I think we have a lot of confidence coming out of it,” Dillon said. “Anytime you can play well with a team of that caliber I think it bodes well for us.”
The Lakers’ offensive woes continued to play a factor as Oswego State failed to score in either game. The Lakers were limited to only 28 shots over the weekend, less than half as many as Plattsburgh. And, like the Cardinals, Oswego State was unable to convert on its six power play opportunities.
While the weekend series marked the end of the 2013-14 regular season for the Lakers, it is also the end of an era for nine of Oswego State’s most impressive and seasoned student athletes.
On Saturday, seniors Olivia Boersen, Mady Paul, Leslie Jarvis, Catherine Cote, Melissa Seamont, Chelsea Hunt, Megan Hagg, Emma Smetaniuk and Jocelyn St. Clair suited up for their last regular season game in a Laker uniform.
“It was a very emotional day,” Dillon said. “They have really raised the bar on what it means to be a Laker hockey player. They have set the standard for us.”
This year’s senior class has helped bring the Lakers to the playoffs all four seasons they have been on the team and have set the foundation of a winning culture that will be passed down for years to come.
The nine seniors were honored by friends and family in a post-game ceremony on the ice that seemed to all but vacate the sting of a loss from the arena. It was a touching tribute to an integral part of the team.
“From a hockey perspective, they’ve done exactly what we’ve asked them to do,” Dillon said. “On a personal level, these are some of the best kids we’ve ever coached and some of the greatest young ladies we’ve ever worked with.”
The Lakers know their work is not finished. Ending the season with a 10-5-1 conference record has solidified the team the No. 3 seed in the ECAC West, meaning the squad will play host to a playoff game against No. 6 Buffalo State (3-20-2, 3-12-1 ECAC West) in the opening round.
The Lakers should have the advantage, as the Bengals have not won a road game all season, going 0-10 in games away from Buffalo.
Oswego State had success against Buffalo State this season, earning two consecutive shutout victories on the road in January.
Last season, the Lakers also finished the season with the No. 3 seed, but fell at home to the sixth-seeded Neumann College. Dillon said her team won’t be thinking about last year.
“Anything in the past doesn’t matter anymore, it’s now one game and you either win or go home,” Dillon said.
The puck is scheduled to drop at 3 p.m. on Saturday, as the Lakers take their first step in a road that the team hopes will end with a national title.