It has been eight months and 17 days since a Laker team stacked with freshmen took down the top-seeded SUNY Geneseo Knights on their home ice to steal the SUNYAC Championships crown. It was Shawn Hulshof with less than 30 seconds remaining in regulation who grabbed the victory in a wild 7-6 finish.
After breaking open a 5-1 second period lead, Oswego State conceded four straight goals from the end of the middle frame into the third. The two sides traded goals from there before Hulshof found open space to the right of the Knights net and sent his team to the NCAA tournament.
Now, it is a new season and much has changed. The Lakers are a year older and have a Frozen Four run under their belts. The Knights, also coming off their program’s first trip to the national semifinals, are still looking for guidance in the wake of former captain Zachary Vit’s graduation. They have a high-powered offense and solid goaltending from Nick Horrigan, but are still seeking to find their stride.
Oswego State is coming off two consecutive ties this past weekend in which it blew two third period leads and are looking to regain its early season form. This is its third game in five days, and with recent injuries plaguing its depth the team looked slow and beatable in the Toyota Frozen Dome Classic against Utica College on Saturday.
Sophomore Matt Zawadzki will be in net for his second consecutive start on Tuesday after regaining the starting spot from junior Justin Gilbert. The Fort Mill, S.C.-native gave up six goals to the Knights in the SUNYAC finals last season, but his play on that postseason run carried the Lakers to Lewiston. Head coach Ed Gosek is hoping Zawadzki can spark the Lakers once again as they hoped to finish the fall semester strong.
On the visitors’ side of the ice, senior Tyler Brickler has stepped up as the go-to guy on offense, but no amount of success from one player has been able to help SUNY Geneseo as it has picked two early season defeats in conference to SUNY Cortland along with an implosion against SUNY Plattsburgh.
Oswego State is an injured, weak opponent ripe for the Knights to take out their early season angst on as they look to get back on track to what could be another SUNYAC title-contending season. Revenge has been on the visitors’ minds for this night since the schedules came out in August. It is up to their performance on the ice Tuesday night as to whether the Knights get said revenge or not.
By the numbers:
4-Freshman Laker Mitch Herlihey has scored in four consecutive games dating back to Nov. 14 against SUNY Canton. Herlihey leads Oswego State in goals with six.
6-SUNY Geneseo senior Tyler Brickler leads the Knights in goals and assists thus far this season with six in each category.
19-When SUNY Geneseo clinched the SUNYAC regular season title on the final weekend last season, it was the first time in 19 seasons that a team not named Oswego State or SUNY Plattsburgh had claimed the crown.
28.7-With 28.7 seconds remaining in March’s SUNYAC Championships final at Wilson Ice Arena, Oswego State’s Shawn Hulshof potted the game-winner in a 7-6 victory over SUNY Geneseo to earn the Lakers their automatic berth into a sixth consecutive NCAA tournament.
Scoring/Special teams breakdown:
Scoring offense: Oswego State-5.86 goals per game (3rd nationally)
SUNY Geneseo-4.14 goals per game (15th nationally)
Scoring defense: Oswego State-2.57 goals allowed per game (T-26th nationally)
SUNY Geneseo-2.71 goals allowed per game (34th nationally)
Power play: Oswego State-39.29 percent [11 of 28] (2nd nationally)
SUNY Geneseo-18.75 percent [6 of 32] (T-34th nationally)
Penalty kill: Oswego State-84.00 percent [21 of 25] (T-29th nationally)
SUNY Geneseo-86.50 percent [32 of 37] (T-21st nationally)
Sophomore Matt Zawadzki: (2 GP, 0-0-1, 4.73 GAA, .884 save percentage)
Senior Nick Horrigan: (3-3-0, 2.52 GAA, .921 save percentage)
Player to watch: SUNY Geneseo forward Stephen Collins: Collins came to SUNY Geneseo last season after a year on the club roster at Arizona State University. With the Sun Devils he tallied 42 points (27 goals-15 assists) before putting up 24 points (13 goals-11 assists). Now a member of the Knights top line, Collins is skating alongside the team’s top scorer Tyler Brickler. Collins has seven points (two goals-five assists) to compliment Brickler’s 12. Collins tallied three assists in the three meetings between the Lakers and Knights last season, including two in the SUNAC title game. Since he has a year under his belt, look for the Pittsford, N.Y.-native to play a large role in the SUNY Geneseo offense on Tuesday night as it tries to avenge its heartbreaking defeat just eight and half months ago.
Prediction: 3-2 SUNY Geneseo