In the opening game of the Pink the Rink weekend series between two teams vying for third in the ECAC West, Oswego State held on to knock off Buffalo State on Friday night at the Marano Campus Center Ice Arena, 3-2.
Head coach Diane Dillon spoke on how tight the game was at the end, and the level of stress surrounding the last couple of minutes.
“I was really happy with the win, these are crucial points for us,” Dillon said. “We started slow but really came on in the second period, our power play and penalty kill were outstanding. But we always seem to find a way to make it interesting.”
In the opening 20 minutes of play, the Lakers and Bengals traded goals with each tally being converted on chances created from the top of their respective offensive zones.
Brooke Krantz scored 3:06 of the frame deflecting in Nikki Kirchberge’s shot, sneaking it past Oswego State senior goaltender Bridget Smith.
Christine Harris added the second goal for the Bengals in the third period after putting her own rebound back after a three on one breakaway.
A reason for many shots on goal were due to disadvantages near the goal, with Buffalo State outnumbering the Lakers on breakaways. Dillon thought the odd man rushes were not acceptable.
The goal by Harris was one a breakaway in which Jayme McCreary lost track of her assignment and left Harris with an easy pass to the goal. Bridget Smith was able to deflect the first shot but could not stop the second one.
Kendall Applebaum’s first of two assists went to Alli Ulrich, on a five on three after Buffalo State took consecutive penalties. Ulrich’s goal came a little past the halfway point in the first period, and was her second goal of the season. Olivia Ellis was also credited with an assist on the goal.
“Anytime you have a five on three, you have to make a team pay,” Dillon said adamantly about taking advantage of opportunities given by the other team.
The second assist of the night from Applebaum was a as a pass from the slot to Ellis, who found a hole in the defense on Oswego State’s second power play of the night. Applebaum delivered the puck right in the crease, giving Ellis an opportunity and she capitalized.
“They’re becoming more confident,” Dillon said. “They’re finding the open player, and letting it develop and being more patient with it.
Ellis found her name on the scoresheet for the third time before the period ended, as she assisted on a goal by Bailee Goodon, which created a two-goal cushion for the Lakers with 2:32 remaining in the second. Ellis finished with one goal and two assists.
The story of the night was the efficiency of Oswego State on special teams. After successfully scoring on only 6 of 59 power play chances coming into the game, which was 43rd in the nation, the Lakers scored twice on four opportunities.
When killing penalties, coming into the game, Oswego State was first in the nation, doing so 94 percent of the time (47 for 50). It continued its defensive dominance killing all three of the Buffalo State power plays.
“I think a part of the game that was clutch at the end of the game were the face-off wins. We owned the dots (they won 38-59 face-offs) and it made a huge difference.”
Smith saved 25 shots in the game for the Lakers, while Justine Silva saved 29 for Buffalo State. Despite surrendering two goals, Dillon spoke highly of Smith’s performance.
‘”I think you’re seeing Smith’s maturity as a senior, and settling into her own game,” Dillon said. “I think it shows that her temperament, her ability to go with the flow of the game, she’s showing her experience in the net. That’s really huge because when Bridget’s on her game it really calms the team down, and know that we have a chance to win any day.”
The Lakers take a three-point lead in the ECAC West standings over Buffalo State for third seed behind SUNY Plattsburgh and Elmira College.
“We’re a young team, and we’re still learning how to win,” Dillon said. “We have a two goal lead, which people talk about is the worst lead in hockey, but I’ll take a two goal lead any day. Giving up two odd man rushes in the third period, however, you can’t do that.”
Late in the third period a goal was overturned after a Buffalo State player ran over Smith, allowing the Bengals to play it off of the boards into the net. Dillon, who was critical of the referees during the game after a no-call on a hit that forced Erika Truschke out of the game for a couple of minutes, believed the right call was made.
“There was no attempt to stop,” Dillon said. “You have to make an attempt to avoid the goaltender, and you can’t interfere with her ability to play the puck.”
Dillon does not believe she has a huge part in motivating the team to sweep the Bengals tomorrow.
“As a hockey player, you have to come motivated,” Dillon said. “These are huge games for us. Every single point for us is crucial, if I have to be the motivator tomorrow, something is wrong with the team.”
The Lakers and Bengals have one more contest this weekend to take place on Saturday as Pink the Rink weekend continues. Puck drop is at 3 p.m. at the Marano Campus Center Arena.