Laker Gameday Preview: Oct. 25 v. USA under-18 team

It has been seven months and four days since the men’s ice hockey team’s improbable run to Lewiston, Maine ended in the national semifinals. Tonight, the core of the program, the Class of 2017, has a year under its belt and is no longer a question mark. Instead, the class’s play is a defining reason as to why many pick Oswego State to make a run at another 20-win season, another SUNYAC title and an unheard of sixth consecutive trip to the Frozen Four.

The Lakers graduated two seniors at the end of last season, David Titanic and Kyle Badham, six members of last year’s freshman class transferred and member of the Class of 2015 Peter Rodrigues left the team before the season, as well. That being said, 24 members of last season’s team are back, including 18 of 19 starters from the Lakers’ national semifinals clash with Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and seven new players have been added.

Tonight, a new campaign begins as Oswego State welcomes the United States of America Development Program under-18 team to the Marano Campus Center Arena for a preseason exhibition. The under-18 squad is in midseason form, now 13 games into its schedule, while the Lakers will use tonight as a tune up for the beginning of their regular season next weekend. The under-18 team is made up of top Division I prospects, soon to be top NHL draft prospects. The vistiors last made the treck to the shores of Lake Ontario during the fall of 2012 when only six members of this year’s Laker squad was donning the green and gold.

Then sophomores, Chris Carr, Bobby Gertsakis, Nick Rivait and Eli Kim-Swallow and then freshman Denton King all saw ice time throughout the three period and then freshman goalie Justin Gilbert played the third period making 19 saves and allowing just one goal. The national team grabbed the victory, 2-0.

Shifting gears to tonight’s matchup. First, a quick look at the roster’s seven new faces:

Alex D’Oliveira, freshman defenseman: 2013-2014 juniors statistics: (8 G/40 A/48 PTS)

Trent Durocher, freshman forward: 2013-2014 juniors statistics: (15 G/10 A/25 PTS)

David Ferreira, freshman forward: 2013-2014 juniors statistics: (9 G/23 A/32 PTS)

Joey Davies, sophomore forward (transfer from University of Alaska, Fairbanks): 2013-2014 Division I statistics: (9 GP/1 G/2 A/3 PTS)

Mitch Herlihey, freshman forward: 2013-2014 juniors statistics: (17 G/28 A/45 PTS)

Sean Federow, sophomore forward (transfer from American International College): 2013-2014 Division I statistics: (16 GP/1 G/2 A/3 PTS)

Mackenzie Sawyer, freshman goalie: 2013-2014 juniors statistics: (2.30 GAA/.914 save percentage)

Now, on to some of the familiar topics of the gameday previews.

By the numbers: With the season just getting underway, here are some fast facts. Next week, this section will return to touching on the Lakers offensive and defensive team totals.

1-Oswego State was picked by SUNYAC coaches to finish No. 1 in the conference this season, three votes ahead of SUNY Geneseo.

3-The Lakers return three All-SUNYAC second team selections in senior captains Bobby Gertsakis and Nick Rivait and reigning SUNYAC Rookie of the Year Matt Galati.

4-Sophomore Matt Zawadzki pitched four shutouts during his rookie season. The net-minder will have some stiff competition to regain the starting job from junior Justin Gilbert and freshman Mackenzie Sawyer, but his ability to shut down the crease has him the front runner to start again.

9-Nine of 10 defensemen from last season’s Oswego State team are back this year. With the addition of freshman Alex D’Oliveira, the Lakers have talented depth, on top of a lot of experience patrolling the blue line.

92-With the graduation of seniors David Titanic and Kyle Badham, Oswego State still returns 92 percent of its offensive production from last season seventh-ranked offense in the country.

Goalie breakdown:

Oswego State

Sophomore Matt Zawadzki: 2013-2014 statistics: (15-3-2/2.16 GAA/.922 save percentage/4 SO)

Junior Justin Gilbert: 2013-2014 statistics: (7-4-0/2.50 GAA/.901 save percentage/1 SO)

Freshman Mackenzie Sawyer: 2013-2014 juniors statistics: (2.30 GAA/.914 save percentage)

USA under-18

Luke Opilka: current statistics: (5-2-0/2.58 GAA/.905 save percentage/2 SO)

Michael Lackey: current statistics: (3-2-1/3.47 GAA/.869 save percentage/0 SO)

Players to watch:

Oswego State

Sophomore Joey Davies: Davies comes to Oswego State after a year at Division I University of Alaska-Fairbanks. While he did not see much action for the Nanooks during the 2013-2014 season, but his numbers during his juniors career suggests Laker fans will be in for a treat when he takes the ice this season. During the 2012-2013 season with the Humboldt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, Davies tallied 27 goals and assisted on another 29 for a total 56 points. As the team rolled into the postseason, he put up 17 more points in 16 games, scoring 13 goals and assisting on four more. The impressive season was the farewell tour on an astonishing five year junior career in which Davies amassed 196 points (91 goals-105 assists) in 254 games.

USA under-18

Forward Auston Matthews: Matthew is a 17-year-old phenom that Oswego State head coach Ed Gosek believes could be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NHL draft. In his one year of Midgets, before joining the USA Development Program, he put up 100 points (55 goals-45 assists) in just 48 games for the Arizona Bobcats under-16 team. Over the past two seasons, playing strictly at the national level, Matthews has scored 101 points (45 goals-56 assists) in 87 games. Matthews, along with his teammates, will be an exciting sight to watch.

Prediction: 3-1 USA under-18