Laker Gameday Preview: SUNYAC Championships Edition: Feb. 28 v. Buffalo State

It is time to wipe White Out and Senior Night from the memories of all the Oswego State faithful. The top defensive pairing of senior captain Bobby Gertsakis and sophomore Stephen Johnson is back in the lineup returning the No. 4 Lakers to full strength just in time for postseason play.

The all-sophomore line of Matt Galati, Kenny Neil and Alex Botten has been broken up, while the line of senior Mike Montagna, sophomore Shawn Hulshof and freshman Mitchell Herlihey has moved to the top of the depth chart. The shake up by head coach Ed Gosek is much needed with the new top line scoring a majority of the team’s goals in the second half of league play.

The return of Gertsakis puts Oswego State’s first power play unit back together for just the second weekend in the last month. The Bengals average just over 14 penalty minutes again, suggesting the Lakers’ highly-skilled man advantage will get its fair share of chances.

Gertsakis and Johnson also reunite the team’s regular six defensemen after the absence of the top pair led to No. 8 SUNY Plattsburgh and SUNY Potsdam putting up seven goals in two games on the Lakers last weekend. Oswego State gives up an average of just over two goals a game and are 11th in Div. III for scoring defense.

The Bengals will have their hands full with the Oswego State defense and standout sophomore goalie Matt Zawadzki, but they are led by a trio of forwards who have the ability to create chances.

Juniors Ryan Salkeld and Brett Hope, along with freshman Jason Zaleski, have combined for 78 points thus far and are coming off a 6-2 victory in the tournament quarterfinals in Potsdam on Wednesday where they scored three of the six goals.

That being said, 10 different Bengals contributed on the scoresheet in the Wednesday night’s win showing parity of scoring that will be crucial against the defensive-minded Lakers. The Bengals average roughly three goals per contest, but will need to score early in order to silence the likely capacity Marano Campus Center Arena crowd. If the Oswego State crowd can get into the game, the atmosphere it creates is definitely a sixth man advantage.

Sophomore goaltender Mike DeLaVergne will need to have another impressive performance as he did in Potsdam when he saved 43 of 45 Bears’ shots. He has not had close to the Kevin Carr esque season that Bengal fans would have hoped for, but will need to channel the 2013-2014 season All-SUNYAC first team goalie to give his team a chance against the high-powered Lakers.

By the numbers

1-Buffalo State has one win in 45 contests against Oswego State. The lone win was a 4-0 shutout coming in Buffalo last season.

4-This is the Bengals’ fourth straight trip to the SUNYAC semifinals. They have not advanced past this stage of the tournament in the last three season, losing to SUNY Plattsburgh twice (2012 and 2014) and Oswego State once (2013).

10-Oswego State has scored 10 unanswered goals on Mike DeLaVergne over the last five periods of play this season between the Bengals and Lakers. The stretch followed a first period hat trick by Buffalo State’s Nick Melligan in the first period on Oct. 31 in Buffalo.

40-Laker sophomore Shawn Hulshof eclipsed 40 points with an assist in last Saturday’s 4-2 loss to SUNY Potsdam. He is the first Laker sophomore to reach the mark since Eric Selleck did so during the 2009-2010 season.

Scoring/Special Teams Breakdown

Offense

Oswego State: 4.67 goals per game (3rd in Division III)

Buffalo State: 3.04 goals per game (T-34th in Division III)

Defense

Oswego State: 2.21 goals per game (11th in Division III)

Buffalo State: 3.81 goals per game (T-57th in Division III)

Power Play

Oswego State: 32.94 percent [28-of-85] (1st in Division III)

Buffalo State: 16.84 percent [21-of-125] (42nd in Division III)

Penalty Kill

Oswego State: 83.30 percent [65-of-78] (29th in Division III)

Buffalo State: 73.50 percent [83 of 113] (71st in Division III)

Goalie Matchup

Oswego State: Matt Zawadzki (10-2-2/2.23 GAA/.920 save percentage)

Buffalo State: Mike DeLaVergne (6-3-3/3.14 GAA/.913 save percentage)

Player to Watch: Oswego State sophomore Kenny Neil

Prediction: 6-2 Oswego State