For the second straight day, Oswego State lost a one-goal lead in the third period and it resulted in a tie as the Lakers played to yet another 4-4 draw on Saturday in the Toyota Frozen Dome Classic against the Utica College Pioneers.
In front of a Div. III record 7,047 fans inside Syracuse University’s Carrier Dome, the Lakers skated to a second consecutive tie for the first time since January 2007. The previous record was set at the 2008 Frozen Four when SUNY Plattsburgh took on Elmira College.
The Lakers played their second game on Saturday out of three over a five-day stretch finishing with a game at home on Tuesday. Senior captain Bobby Gertsakis is not worried about his team citing experiences with schedules like this in the past, both at the collegiate and junior levels.
“We had a good stretch of them last year in January,” Gertsakis said. “The guys kind of know, they understand the importance of the short time rest and making sure we’re eating right and staying healthy. Guys understand, we come from junior background where we play like this all the time, so I think guys will be fine. Our conditioning levels high, so we’ll be good.”
As it has done several times in this young season, Oswego State jumped out to an early lead in the first period of Saturday’s Frozen Dome Classic against the Utica College Pioneers. For the fourth straight game, Mitch Herlihey got his name in the goal column with the tally at the 2:19 mark.
The freshman was the beneficiary of a pass from the far corner by his linemate Matt Galati. The puck landed on his stick at the backdoor for the finish on a wide open left side of the net.
Time of possession favored the Lakers throughout the opening frame, but the shot totals favored the Pioneers, 11-10. That did not end up mattering much as Oswego State expanded its lead to two with just under five minutes left in the period.
Sophomore Krystian Yorke fed defenseman Chris Raguseo at the point where he beat Taffe with the one timer, his first goal of the season.
The second period began with the Pioneers upping their pressure on sophomore net-minder Matt Zawadzki in his return to the Laker net for the first time since Oct. 31 at Buffalo State. At first, Zawadzki was up to the task as he stopped an early breakaway opportunity by Luc Boby. But, just a few minutes later, at 7:08, senior Louis Educate put Utica College on the board to cut its deficit in half.
The set up of the rink inside the Carrier Dome was a bit different than that of a usual rink causing problems with vision and judging distances on the ice, but Zawadzki did not see that as a hindrance that could excuse allowing four goals.
“When you go out there and play in a different scene, you know it’s going to be different. So you’ve still got to play your game and we have to stick to our game,” Zawadzki said. “There are going to be different things, but good teams find a way and good players find a way to play well no matter what, and that’s what we tried to do today.”
The Pioneers kept up their intensity and, after taking advantage of a defensive zone giveaway by the Lakers, found their equalizer off the stick of Anthony McVeigh at 9:18 as the freshman was left all alone at the left pipe.
The Lakers needed just 80 seconds to retake the lead as sophomore Chris Waterstreet tallied his first goal of the season. The Northville, Mich.-native jockied for position in front, and after being pushed out of the crease on one side he moved to the other. His linemate Morgan Bonner then sent a shot on net, which Waterstreet was able to tip in on the rebound.
Momentum stayed in Utica College’s favor for the remainder of the period, outshooting the Lakers 14-7 in the frame; however, Oswego State was able to keep its opponent off the board to hold onto the one-goal advantage at the second intermission.
Laker head coach Ed Gosek recognized that, after a second tie in as many days, the injuries on defense are starting to impact his team’s production on the ice.
“I thought we looked a little tired and the injury part catches up to ya,” Gosek said. “The reality is we’re overplaying guys because of the injuries, because of people being out, and it catches up to ya. Then, the mistake we have been making, up until last night, started catching up to us. Today, same thing, our offense is fine, but defensively we just made too many unforced turnovers and we’ve got to do a better job of managing the puck in our own end and the awareness part.”
Gertsakis stayed positive about the past two days despite his team not pulling out the results it would like.
“We’ve faced a little adversity here, but they’re only ties,” Gertsakis said. “It’s not like we’re getting blown out or anything. I think we just have to tighten up. I think defensively we have to get a bit stronger and that’ll help us in the long run.”
While the Pioneers were unable to find an equalizer in the closing minutes of the second, it took them just 51 seconds to bury their third goal of the afternoon in the third.
Sophomore Trent Samuels-Thomas won an offensive zone faceoff against Oswego State’s Mike Montagna back to Peter LaFosse who beat Zawadzki from the high slot for his third goal of the season.
Utica College kept the advantage on the ice following the equalizer and even got a puck in behind Zawadzki, but senior defenseman Mike Wills was there to pick it up off the goal line. His outlet pass found junior Brandon Adams streaking along the right boards and it was off to the races. Adams got to the right pipe and beat Taffe with a backhand to give Oswego State the lead back, 4-3.
As was the case for much of the final 40 minutes of play, the Pioneers looked the better team following the Lakers’ fourth goal. With less than eight minutes remaining in regulation, it was Educate again on the backhand with his second tally of the contest.
A elbowing call on Galati at 11:27 set up the Pioneers second power play opportunity of the afternoon and they did not miss on the new chance.
After going one-for-four on the power play on Friday night, the Lakers were held without a power play chance throughout the entire game on Saturday. Gosek saw instances where penalties could have been called during the two games.
“Last night, I don’t mean to criticize, but I thought there were a lot of missed calls,” Gosek said. “We had guys with a broken finger, bruises and slashes that we’re watching on the film that were no calls, or they thought were no calls, so I’m not sure if they’re just letting things go. I thought there were some holds tonight and there were scenarios where calls could have been made. I don’t know. I guess they played a perfectly clean game to not take any penalties in 60 minutes.”
Both teams were unable to hold the zone for very long as the third period played on and into the overtime. However, the Lakers appeared to grab the game-winner with 5:08 remaining as Herlihey sent a shot through traffic. It hit the crossbar and came down on the goal line, but it bounced out and was cleared away before Galati could bury it.
Zawadzki kept the Pioneers off the board throughout the extra five minutes of play, finishing with 32 saves, as the game ended with no victor.
Zawadzki was pulled in the second period on opening night of the season at Buffalo State after conceding a hat trick in the first 22 minutes to Bengals’ senior Nick Melligan. Getting his first chance back in net since, the sophomore felt good to just be on the ice.
“Just getting some playing time, getting back out there and helping the guys out,” Zawadzki said. “The puck hit me and it felt good. You build off that.”
Gosek was pleased with the turnout for the afternoon’s game and grateful to those who put on the event for making Oswego State part of the festivities.
“It was an awesome experience,” Gosek said. “For our guys, they had a great time. We appreciate the fans that came out. They said they had a revised attendance of seven thousand something, so that’s what we expected and, hey, it was a great atmosphere. Again, we can’t thank the Crunch enough, and Syracuse University for hosting the event. It was a lot of fun for our guys.”
Gosek sees this weekend of consecutive overtime games as great experience for his team going forward.
“These games, as we preach to our team, the reality is when you have expectations of getting to the end of the year, to your league championship or the Final Four, distractions and the extra preparation and short turn around of games like this are huge for your team to gain experience and its as much mental experience as it is the physical part. So, we look at these games as a great opportunity to improve mentally for what it’s going to take come playoff time.”
Oswego State (5-0-2, 3-0-2 SUNYAC) returns to the ice on Tuesday night at home against No. 13 SUNY Geneseo. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.