For the first time last since the 2010-2011 season, the Lakers went undefeated against their archrivals the SUNY Plattsburgh Cardinals last season. After a tie at home at this time last year, the Lakers pulled off two road wins in a week’s span at the end of the season en route to a fifth consecutive Frozen Four appearance. The Cardinals, ranked No. 1 in the nation at one point, ended up missing the NCAA tournament all together.
Now, the new chapter starts where the last one was closed, Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena. Winless in its last three contests, the Lakers have fallen over the past two weeks from No. 2 in the nation to eighth. SUNY Plattsburgh has surged to No. 4 in the polls, despite suffering its first loss of the season to No.2 Norwich University in a tournament over Thanksgiving break at Middlebury College. At the time, the Cardinals were No. 2 and the Cadets were No. 3.
Tonight, records and rankings are thrown out the window as two of the most storied programs in Div. III, and certainly the most storied programs in the SUNYAC take the ice. By far the top two teams in conference history for league championships, the Cardinals and Lakers also have enjoyed national stage success, each with a national championship to their credit.
The Cardinals are retooling a bit after the loss of such leaders as forward Alex Jensen and senior goalie Mathieu Cadieux, but still return a solid roster anchored by its talented Class of 2016.
The Lakers proved last season that its younger roster could keep up with the power from the North Country, especially with standout goalie Matt Zawadzki in net. The sophomore went 2-1 in his rookie season against SUNY Plattsburgh.
Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. as the Cardinals try to protect their home ice and their lead in the conference standings, while the Lakers attempt to right the ship after a rough five-day stretch before Thanksgiving.
Scoring/Special teams breakdown:
Scoring offense: Oswego State-5.25 goals per game (5th nationally)
SUNY Plattsburgh-4.41 goals per game (11th nationally)
Scoring defense: Oswego State-2.50 goals allowed per game (T-27th nationally)
SUNY Plattsburgh-2.22 goals allowed per game (17th nationally)
Power play: Oswego State-35.48 percent [11 of 31] (4th nationally)
SUNY Plattsburgh-11.90 percent [5 of 42] (58th nationally)
Penalty kill: Oswego State-82.80 percent [24 of 29] (T-30th nationally)
SUNY Plattsburgh-82.80 percent [24 of 29] (T-30th nationally)
Sophomore Matt Zawadzki: (3 GP, 0-1-1, 3.65 GAA, .852 save percentage)
Sophomore Brady Rouleau: (3-1-0, 2.42 GAA, .908 save percentage)
Player to watch: Oswego State freshman forward Mitch Herlihey: High-pressure offenses give the Cardinals trouble and the Lakers play that style of offense. Herlihey has been one of Oswego State’s most effective scorers to this point in the season. Although this is his first Oswego State/SUNY Plattsburgh showdown, look out for the Ottawa native to factor heavily into the scoring on Friday night as the Lakers look to steal two points on the road at their archrivals.
Prediction: 4-3 Oswego State