SUNY Potsdam scored twice in the final 2:13 of the third to secure a 4-2 victory and spoil Senior Night in Oswego for the No. 1 Lakers on Saturday.
The Lakers got out to a two-goal lead in the first five minutes of play on a pair of goals by senior Mike Montagna before the Bears worked the game back even late in the second. Junior Bears’ goalie Jon Hall made 45 saves in the contest playing a large role in the team’s fourth straight victory.
The open ice that was hard to find during Friday’s White Out contest against No. 9 SUNY Plattsburgh was available from the start on Saturday against SUNY Potsdam. After being outshot 13-6 in the first 20 minutes by the Cardinals on Friday, the Lakers outshot the Bears 11-7 in the opening frame on Saturday.
Sophomore Matt Galati had a look at an open net in the first minutes of play, sending a backhander just wide with Hall down in the crease. It was not four minutes later when Montagna buried the game’s first two goals within 26 seconds of gameplay. The Lakers continued to control puck possession for the majority of the frame.
Montagna was one of six seniors honored by the program on Saturday night. The remaining members of the class were forwards Chris Carr and Eli Kim-Swallow and defensemen Mike Wills, assistant captain Nick Rivait and captain Bobby Gertsakis.
At 16:25, Chris Waterstreet took the first of two Laker penalties in the final four minutes of the period. Oswego State was able to kill off Waterstreet’s goalie interference infraction, but conceded a power play goal to SUNY Potsdam’s Dylan Vander Esch with Alex Botten in the box at 19:33. Botten was sent off as the team representative for a too many men on the ice call.
The two penalties in the first came less than 24 hours after the Lakers played 41:21 of clean ice hockey to start the White Out game on Friday night.
Then, Vander Esch potted the lone goal of the second frame to bring the game level after 40 minutes as the Bears worked the game back even over the course of the period.
Oswego State had its first two power play chances during the second. The Lakers took over the No. 1 spot in Div. III on the man advantage after going 1-for-1 on Friday, but failed to score on either chance in the period, only managing four shots between the two power plays.
It appeared the Lakers were going to go up two men halfway through the second chance when Chris Raguseo seemed to be tripped in the defensive zone. But, there was no call made.
Hall stood on his head in the period, power plays and all, saving all 18 Laker shots. He had 27 saves through the first 40 minutes of action. Hall had his fourth 45-plus save effort of the season in Saturday’s victory.
The Bears continued to shift momentum in their favor throughout the final 20 minutes of play. Hall made 18 more saves in the final period, including several to hold the game tied. As it looked like the game was going to end in a 2-2 draw, Todd Thomas put home the eventual game-winning goal for SUNY Potsdam.
Thomas held the puck in at the blue line, then carried it to the left circle where he fired a shot that got past Zawadzki and trickled just inside the right pipe.
Nick Casacci sent the fourth, and final, goal nearly goal line to goal line and into an empty net as Laker head coach Ed Gosek pulled Zawadzki with under a minute to play.
With the 4-2 loss and No. 9 SUNY Plattsburgh’s 5-2 win in Cortland, the Lakers fall to the No. 2 seed in the SUNYAC tournament set to start with the Play-In Round on Wednesday. However, the Lakers still earned a bye through the play-in round and will await the highest remaining seed of Wednesday’s games.
The games on the midweek slate are No. 6-seeded the College at Brockport at No. 3 SUNY Geneseo and No. 5 Buffalo State and No. 4 SUNY Potsdam.