Late comeback carries Lakers into NCAA quarterfinals

 

After weather postponed the NCAA Division III men’s ice hockey opening round matchup between Oswego State and Bowdoin, the Lakers used three unanswered goals in the final period to advance this afternoon, 4-3.

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Freshman goalie Matt Zawadzki celebrates the Lakers first goal during the team’s 4-3 victory over Bowdoin College in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday afternoon at the Campus Center Ice Arena (Seamus Lyman | The Oswegonian).

The game-winner, scored by freshman Alex Botten, came at the 17:40 mark, just over a minute after the short handed unit was able to kill off a Chris Waterstreet penalty. After finishing the SUNYAC Tournament 7-for-13 on the penalty kill, Oswego State was a perfect 3-for-3 this afternoon.

Senior captain David Titanic was happy with the turnaround of the penalty kill, especially seeing how it helped shift momentum, after the struggles it had throughout the conference postseason.

“We use it as a momentum builder. I think of big blocks, like Rivait’s. Just warrior plays like that, that get the guys going on the bench and build morale,” Titanic said. “I mean last game on the PK wasn’t our best, but we persevered tonight and it added to our momentum.”

Titanic, was a large part of the kill and then became a big part of the goal that ensued, grabbing the assist. Botten gave his captain all the credit.

“The game-winning goal was a big play from Dave,” Botten said. “Their D turned the puck over and Dave picked it up in the neutral zone. He did all the work, frankly. He drove the D wide, kept driving, fed the puck cross crease to me and it just happened to land right on my stick and I saw an empty net and I was praying that this one would go in.”

Midway through the period, Oswego State was able to score a couple quick goals to erase the two-goal lead Bowdoin amassed to start the frame. The goals, scored by junior Vermont transfer Mike Montagna and Titanic, were put away just 38 seconds apart at the 8:21 and 8:59 marks respectively.

The play that led to Titanic’s goal started out as a breakaway opportunity for the Polar Bears. Bowdoin’s senior defenseman Jay Livermore had Laker defenseman Chris Raguseo beat, but freshman goalie Matt Zawadzki made a crucial poke check to send the puck the other way; the play ending with Titanic beating Polar Bear junior goalie Max Fenkell five-hole.

Zawadzki finished the game with 27 saves and extended his winning streak to four. At that point in the game, he knew he had to make the poke to help his team.

“My mindset is, ‘I need to keep the next shot out of the net’ because, if they go up three, it’s going to be real hard for us to get back in this game,” Zawadzki said. “So, I just knew that I had to make a play that was going to keep our team in the game and we were fortunate enough to go down and get a goal off the play and another one and momentum went in our favor and we took advantage of it.”

Less than two minutes earlier, Bowdoin senior Harry Matheson was able to put home a rebound off an initial shot from the point by fellow senior Kyle Lockwood. The goal was Matheson’s second point of the period, after assisting on sophomore Matt Rubinoff’s goal, to cap off a 2:46 span, during which the Polar Bears had used a 2-0 run to take the lead.

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The Polar Bears celebrate their third and final goal scored by Harry Matheson during the third period of Thursday’s NCAA Tournament action in Oswego (Seamus Lyman | The Oswegonian).

According to Polar Bears head coach Terry Meagher, the start of the third period was the epitome of how Bowdoin plays hockey.

“That run we’ve been on, that capitalizes everything. That tenaciousness, grit, determination. That small segment of play is how I think we played through the [NESCAC] tournament, the road games and got us into position to call ourselves champions of what we consider a very good league,” Meagher said. “That was our hockey. That was Bowdoin hockey and we take pride in it.”

The scoring did not get started until the middle frame with one goal in the early stages and then one in the closing stages.

After Botten grabbed the early lead for the Lakers at the 6:04 mark, off a nice lead pass by linemate Matt Galati, Livermore responded with a goal of his own on a wrist shot from the heart of the slot with just over a minute remaining in the period.

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The Lakers go down the line celebrating after senior captain David Titanic scored the team’s second goal, cutting their deficit back to one, with just over 10 minutes to play in the third versus Bowdoin on Thursday (Seamus Lyman | The Oswegonian).

With this win, Oswego State moves on to the quarterfinals on Sunday afternoon at Babson College, the No. 1 seeded team in the East, in Massachusetts.

Oswego State head coach Ed Gosek has been happy with the way the team has competed throughout the final six weeks of the season and is ready for the next test.

“They’re very good team. They were No. 1 ranked in the East. They got the only bye in the East this week. So, we know it’s a great challenge,” Gosek said. “Their goaltender from what we’ve seen and what we’ve heard is one of the best in the country. So, that’s a whole different set of issues. We’re not sure. We think our conditioning throughout the second half of the season has kept us in these games. I don’t see us getting beat late in the game. I think our conditioning is where it needs to be. So, those are positives going forward.”

Puck drop is set for 3 p.m.