In the absence of senior captain Bobby Gertsakis, who was out due to an ankle injury, it was assistant captain Nick Rivait who stepped up with the final game-tying goal on the power play halfway through the third.
It was a game of big saves as the two offenses continued to pressure the opposition. Oswego State’s Matt Zawadzki and SUNY Plattsburgh’s Brady Rouleau each played without their backup goalies, each out injured. The duo combined to save 55 saves on 61 shots. Zawadzki made 30 and Rouleau made 25.
Off the opening faceoff, the Cardinals carried the puck into the zone and pressured sophomore Matt Zawadzki setting the tone for a fast-paced period. The two sides went back and forth with limited whistles and no penalties to keep the clock moving.
SUNY Plattsburgh outshot Oswego State in the first 20 minutes of play, 13-6. Most of the host’s shots were coming from the outside as the visitors pack in on defense. On the opposite side of the ice, the Cardinals were deking through the Lakers’ inexperienced defense and getting to the front of the net at will. Several of Zawadzki’s 12 saves in the period were on odd-man opportunities started within the zone.
SUNY Plattsburgh struck first less than two minutes into the game on a tic-tac-toe pass play from Mark Constantine to Connor Toomey to Brandon O’Quinn. The tally combined with Matt Quilty’s one-on-none just before it came to epitomize the Cardinals’ control of puck possession in the frame.
As the period continued, the Lakers, behind the play of their second line, began to threaten in their own right. Sophomore Shawn Hulshof scored at 8:01 of the period on a wrist shot over Cardinals’ goalie Brady Rouleau’s left shoulder, just seconds after SUNY Plattsburgh had cleared his inital shot that he had put a shot off Mitchell Herlihey’s skate.
Improved puck possession by the Lakers in the second slowed up play in the period as the two sides scored one goal apiece for the second straight period.
It was the line of Herlihey, Montagna and Hulshof leading the charge again. Its ability to hold the zone and create chances sparked the rest of the offense.
At 4:46 of the middle frame, it was the Lakers opening the scoring and taking their first lead. Herlihey released at the right time picking up the puck at the point in the defensive zone beginning an offensive break. His initial shot was stopped before Montagna buried the rebound.
Cardinals’ head coach Bob Emery called a timeout at 6:55 after Oswego State held the zone for an extended period following Montagna’s goal. SUNY Plattsburgh had its response 16 seconds out of the timeout off the stick of Kyle Hall.
Ayrton Valente slid the puck to Hall where the Saskatchewan-native was initially stopped by Zawadzki before potting his own rebound.
For the second consecutive frame, the second half of the period went scoreless as both goalies stood on their respective heads. The two net-minders combined for 34 saves on 38 shots through 40 minutes of play.
After 41:21 of clean ice hockey, Oswego State’s Mac Scott was sent to the box for holding followed by a high sticking call on SUNY Plattsburgh’s Brandon Beadow 28 seconds later.
The Cardinals buried their third, and final, goal while up-a-man because of a delayed interference call on Nick Rivait. Plattsburgh’s Connor Toomey fell to his knees, got up and beat Zawadzki five-hole with a backhand shot.
The rest of the three penalties were killed but, before four more minutes ticked off the clock, Plattsburgh’s Ayrton Valente was called for tripping opening the door for senior assistant captain Nick Rivait to tie the score one last time.
Rivait was in on the power play with the top unit in the absence of captain Bobby Gertsakis who was scratched with an ankle injury. Alex Botten fed him at the point where he fired a one-timer past Rouleau.
The game continued to heat up as tempers flared when each team took a pair of offsetting penalties for roughing at 14:45. After an impressive save by Zawadzki to cause a whistle, Zawadzki and Alex Botten got into a tussle with Plattsburgh’s Matt Quilty and Luke Baleshta in front of the Laker net.
The period continued without anymore scoring and Zawadzki made one final big save as the third period expired, stopping an arrant Cardinals’ shot at the left pipe that came from along the nearside boards.
The overtime went by without a goal as the teams went back and forth. The team was left to kill off a Mike Wills’ hooking penalty for the final minutes of the extra frame.
The Lakers return to the ice on Saturday night to honor their seniors in the team’s final home game against SUNY Potsdam. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.