Lakers use offensive outburst to advance in NCAA Tournament

Sophomore Matt Galati scored two goals in the Lakers' 6-1 win over Hobart in the NCAA Tournament opening round in Geneva, N.Y. on Saturday. He had no scored since Jan. 31 at SUNY Cortland (David Armelino | The Oswegonian).
Sophomore Matt Galati scored two goals in the Lakers’ 6-1 win over Hobart in the NCAA Tournament opening round in Geneva, N.Y. on Saturday. He had no scored since Jan. 31 at SUNY Cortland (David Armelino | The Oswegonian).

Geneva, N.Y.–No. 4 Oswego State received production out of its top two scoring lines in 6-1 win on Saturday night in Geneva to get past No. 10 Hobart College and into the NCAA Div. III Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament quarterfinals.

Sophomore Matt Galati paced the Lakers with two goals and an assist on a night where nine players contributed to the scoring and five different players tallied goals. Junior Brad Robbins potted the Statesmen’s lone goal.

When the two sides met at the Marano Campus Center Arena in Oswego on Jan. 9, Oswego State got out to a four-goal lead through the opening period and a half before Hobart responded with three goals of its own in the eventual 5-4 win for the Lakers. On Saturday night, it was the Lakers who started the scoring once again.

Oswego State held the zone for a majority of the opening minutes of play and played quick made tape-to-tape passes, two things it struggled with during the SUNYAC Championship in Plattsburgh a week ago. At 1:17 of the opening frame, it was senior Mike Montagna burying the game’s first score.

Senior Nick Rivait held the puck in at the blue line and threw it to the front of the net where sophomore Mitchell Herlihey tipped the puck to Montagna at the right pipe for the finish. The goal was the Fulton native’s 13th of the season and the assist was Herlihey’s first of three in the game.

“Tonight, we created a lot of the breaks we got, so your passing looks better,” said Laker head coach Ed Gosek. “Many people say, ‘You have a fast team,’ over the years. We try to explain to our players, ‘You look fast when you anticipate and you know where the puck is going to go, when you’re on the same page and there’s not a disconnect between your D and your forwards.'”

Oswego State kept up the pressure following its first goal, including a close call when Statesmen freshman goalie Frank Oplinger played a puck off Laker defenseman Stephen Johnson’s skate that almost found twine. That all being said, Hobart created plenty of chances of its own as the period moved on, and if not for the Lakers’ coverage of the defensive zone may have put home a goal of its own. Both teams finished the period with 11 shots on goal.

The Lakers kept up the offensive momentum in the early part of the second, adding three more goals in the opening 5:35 of the frame. Galati scored 41 seconds in followed by his linemate Kenny Neil on the power play at 3:58 and senior captain Bobby Gertsakis at 5:35.

Gertsakis was one of five seniors in the Lakers’ starting lineup for Saturday night’s game playing what potentially could have been his final collegiate game.

“It’s do or die,” Gertsakis said. “I was talking to Montagna before the game. It’s a strange feeling that your days are kind of numbered here. He kind of took that as a positive and he got me thinking that way too. We talked on Monday with a lot of the seniors, being this is our last run at it, to leave it all out there, hold nothing back and have no regrets.”

Gosek broke up the line of Galati, Neil and Alex Botten during the SUNYAC Tournament after a lackluster final month of the regular season. Back together on Saturday, the line scored three of six goals and totaled seven points.

“I think the biggest difference was we were moving our feet more,” Galati said. “You could see it out there. We skating hard and working hard. I think that break for us was a little wake up call and I think we answered back very well.”

Twenty-seven seconds after the third goal for Oswego State, Hobart went on its lone power play of the evening. The two-minute man advantage helped the Statesmen swing momentum, and while they did not score they held the advantage for a majority of the period from that point on.

Three minutes after the hooking call on Laker defenseman Chris Raguseo expired, the hosts broke through on the scoreboard off the stick of Robbins. The play started when Johnson carried the puck behind the Lakers’ net and upon trying to break the puck out found Hobart’s Ben Gamache who fed Robbins for the tally.

From there, the Statesmen had the edge in chances for the remainder of the period. However, the Lakers had the most notable chance as the period came to a close due to the altercation that ensued to follow it.

Sophomore Krystian Yorke picked up the puck in the neutral zone and looked to carry the offensive zone. He shed one final Statesmen skater and was looking at a one-on-none with Oplinger when that skater took him down. Yorke was able to get up, but did not finish the opportunity.

As the buzzer sounded marking the end of the period, Sean Rudy of Hobart laid a big hit on Yorke along the halfboards leading to a center-ice standoff between the two teams with their captains standing face to face. Despite the incident, the two teams combined to take only two penalties each throughout the entire contest, none of which came from the situation at the middle frame.

“I wouldn’t expect anything else from them. They’re going to compete. They’re fighting for their lives,” Gosek said. “I don’t mean that in a negative way. They’re going to finish every check. However the game is being called is how it is. Our focus, for us, we were in the same situation with them in our building. We were in the same situation last year in Geneseo. People ask how you respond to those situations. Where this extra month gets you, getting to play better opponents, is mental toughness.”

The two teams met at center ice following the second period after pushing and shoving in the Lakers' offensive zone and the Statesmen impeded Laker goalie Matt Zawadzki's path off the ice (David Armelino | The Oswegonian).
The two teams met at center ice following the second period after pushing and shoving in the Lakers’ offensive zone and the Statesmen impeded Laker goalie Matt Zawadzki’s path off the ice (David Armelino | The Oswegonian).

Hobart came out dominate on the offense in the opening four minutes of the third. Yet, the Lakers earned an offensive zone faceoff at 4:03 and, just off the faceoff win by Botten, Galati put away his second of the game, his team’s fifth, on an off balance one-timer.

Oswego State tacked on a sixth goal off the stick of SUNYAC MVP Shawn Hulshof with 1:19 to play to put a stamp on its ticket to an NCAA quarterfinal matchup with Adrian College next Saturday in eastern Michigan.

“They get after it. They’re aggressive. They finish every check. Quite frankly, I think there’s a lot of similarities to Hobart,” said Gosek about Adrian. “You better be ready to match that intensity or you’re going to get embarrassed.”

“So, we’ll get some rest. We’ll reevaluate things here and, as we said to the players, ‘Just because we got through tonight, it’s not okay to pat ourselves on the back and go back to some of our shortcomings in practice and in games that got us to last weekend,'” Gosek said. “We want to move forward and we hope we can match the same intensity and execution that we had tonight.”

The other three quarterfinal matchups are also set for next Saturday with No. 3 SUNY Plattsburgh heading to No. 7 Trinity College, No. 1 Norwich University heading to No. 8 Amherst College and Hamline University heading to No. 6 University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Puck drop of the next round’s games are still to be announced.