Smith, Rice lead Lakers to victory in weekend opener

Oswego State defeated the SUNY Potsdam Bears in the first of two matchups between the ECAC West foes on Friday afternoon, 4-0.

Sophomore Brianna Rice scored three goals, one in each period, giving her the team’s first hat trick of the season, as senior Bridget Smith made her return to net after suffering a concussion in the season opener at Castleton State College. The assistant captain pitched her first shutout of the season, while making 29 saves.

Laker head coach Diane Dillon spoke highly of her team’s main goal scorer in the game and her performance.

“She’s a big, strong kid, nobody can stop her,” Dillon said. “She’s six-feet tall with stocky feet, and if you put her in hockey skates, I’d get out of the way too.”

Dillon noticed the augmented confidence in shot taking for her team, and was pleased with the result. The Lakers finished the contest with 34 shots on net.

“I like to identify keys to success, and one of them was attack the net,” Dillon said. “This week, we really focused on being more aggressive, and attacking. We won the battle on the wall, and then attacked the net. That was one of our keys, and it worked.”

Junior Bailee Godoon scored the other goal, which was unassisted and snuck in on the upper left corner of the goal.

“The goals were hard-working goals,” Dillon said.  “I think they stuck to the game plan more than before, and we are starting to gel. We stuck to the game plan, even in the third period, and we really didn’t give them many opportunities. We outshot them and we killed them on face-offs.”

The beginning of the first period, like many other games for Oswego State, started with it in control. Starting off with multiple shots on goal and an overall advantage in time of possession, but no goals until Rice at the end of the frame. The Lakers took 15 total shots in the opening period.

The second period saw the Lakers take shorts from farther out, but made two of them, showing an increase in shot confidence, which continued into the third period.

Despite leading 4-0 early into the third period, it was evident that the Lakers had no intention of letting up the intensity. They took multiple shots on goal and came very close numerous times, totaling ten shots in the period.

Smith made several acrobatic shots en route to getting the win in between the pipes. Even though junior captain Tori Trovato has played the most minutes on the team, Smith was given the nod.

“She earned it this week,” Dillon said. “She worked really hard this week, she was our better goaltender in practice. Because of her size, she has sat deep in the net her entire career. She’s big enough to cover the entire net. So when you get into some games with some skilled scorers, you have to be careful. Bridget is in better shape than she has ever been, she’s able to recover better, and she is playing with more confidence. She got stronger as the game went on.”

The Lakers also won face-offs, 29-19, which helped them either maintain possession on in the offensive zone, or transition to offense when defending their goal.

The last time the Lakers won 4-0 on a Friday, it was two weeks ago against SUNY Cortland. They lost to the Red Dragons the following afternoon, 3-1. Dillon looks to not repeat those same examples.

“We can’t take a game off,” Dillon said. “One or two points can make a difference, especially in conference, every game is important. As a coach, I have to look at what we did well, and what we need to improve on.”

She was clear on what she wanted her team to do tomorrow to have continued success.

“I think it’s a confidence thing. We’ll be prepared for them,” Dillon said. “It’s coming in with a game plan, being calm, and going to work. We can’t get too high, we can’t get too low.”

Oswego State is now 2-1 in ECAC West play, and 3-2 overall. The Bears drop to 2-2-1 overall. All of their games have been conference games. The Lakers take on the Bears tomorrow in the final game of the weekend series at the Marano Campus Center Arena at 11 a.m.