Laker Gameday Preview: Nov. 21 v. The College at Brockport

No. 2 Oswego State (5-0, 3-0) gets back to SUNYAC play tonight with its first of three games over the next five days. Tonight’s contest pits the Lakers against the College at Brockport Golden Eagles (2-4, 1-2).

The Golden Eagles, a SUNYAC playoff team a season ago, has gotten off to a rough start. The Rochester-area side defeated SUNY Canton in a non-conference matchup last Saturday night for its second victory of the season, just 24 hours after taking a 5-3 loss at home to SUNY Geneseo.

Junior goalie Jared Lockhurst has been a bright spot early on in the season for the College at Brockport. However, a lack of offensive production has left tonight’s visitors to the Marano Campus Center Arena on the losing end of contests more often than not thus far. Also, this weekend’s central New York trip to play Oswego State and SUNY Cortland will be their second and third road games of the season after played five of their first six at Tuttle North Ice Arena.

On the other side of the ice, the Lakers have had everything go right for them so far during the 2014-2015 campaign. The offense is currently averaging the third-most goals per game in Div. III, while the defense led by senior captain Bobby Gertsakis and junior goalie Justin Gilbert is allowing just two goals per contest.

The Lakers special teams play has been off to a fast start as well. With most of their power play unit members now playing together for a full season, they currently champion the most efficient man advantage squad in the country. The penalty kill is off to an impressive start of its own conceding just two goals in 20 opportunities.

Sophomore Matt Galati, who was one of the top goal scorers in Div. III last season, was held scoreless for the first weekend against Buffalo State and SUNY Fredonia, but has since tallied five goals in three games, all on the power play. Sophomore Kenny Neil, who tore up his knee in January, returned to the lineup to start the season and has quickly become one of the best offensive weapons yet again.

Tonight, the Lakers see the 2014-2015 season debut of senior assistant captain Nick Rivait as the team’s defensive core begins to get healthier. He will join a core that has had sophomores Sean Federow and Stephen Johnson breakout to help in Rivait and junior assistant captain Denton King’s absences.

Oswego State still has Utica College on the slate tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m. before hosting SUNY Geneseo on Nov. 25 at 7 p.m. to close out play before the holiday next week. But, tonight is still a conference game that must be won.

Puck drop is 7 p.m.

By the numbers:

0.83-Junior Justin Gilbert has taken hold of the starting goalie position for the time being at Oswego State. His 0.83 goals against average in four starts is doing a large part for keeping him in the crease.

4-Oswego State forward Matt Galati potted four goals on the man advantage during last weekend’s matchups with SUNY Canton and Nazareth College. Galati is one of the leaders of the Lakers’ power play, which is currently the best in Div. III.

18-After Friday’s contest against the College at Brockport, Oswego State will have approximately 18 hours until puck drop against its next opponent Utica College. Saturday’s game is the second of three over the next five days for the Lakers.

21-Before the Golden Eagles came into the then Campus Center Arena in February and upset Oswego State, the Lakers had won the last 21 consecutive meetings over the past decade.

Scoring/Special teams breakdown:

Scoring offense: Oswego State-6.60 goals per game (3rd nationally)

The College at Brockport-2.00 goals per game (T-59th nationally)

Scoring defense: Oswego State-2.00 goals allowed per game(T-14th nationally)

The College at Brockport-3.17 goals allowed per game (T-43rd nationally)

Power play: Oswego State-43.48 percent [10 of 23] (1st nationally)

The College at Brockport-24.00 percent [6 of 25] (T-18th nationally)

Penalty kill: Oswego State-90.00 percent [18 of 20] (14th nationally)

The College at Brockport-78.80 percent [26 of 33] (48th nationally)

Goalie matchup: 

Oswego State

Junior Justin Gilbert: (4-0-0, 0.83 GAA, .962 save percentage)

The College at Brockport

Junior Jared Lockhurst: (1-3-0, 2.52 GAA, .935 save percentage)**

Player to watch: Junior goaltender Jared Lockhurst: Last season, Lockhurst got the nod in just one of two tilts against Oswego State. In the Lakers’ trip to Brockport on Nov. 23, they hung four goals on the Caledon, Ont.-native in a shutout victory. Even though head coach Brian Dickinson benched Lockhurst in favor of Aaron Green for the team’s final four regular season games and its SUNYAC first round game against Buffalo State, Lockhurst earned his starting spot back to start the current season. With impressive personal numbers, the junior net-minder will need to have an All-SUNYAC performance to give his chance to win this contest.

Prediction: 4-1 Oswego State