Lakers sweep Elmira to open season

The Oswego State men’s ice hockey team began the 2010-11 season exactly how they wanted, sweeping the weekend series against a tough Elmira College team.

On Friday, the Lakers took advantage of undisciplined penalties to score two late power-play goals en route to a 4-1 victory in the team’s home opener at the Campus Center Ice Arena. The following day, Oswego State completed the home-and-home series sweep with a 4-2 win at the Murray Athletic Center in Elmira, N.Y.

The Lakers extended their home winning streak to 19 games on Friday night in front of an announced crowd of 2,117 at the Campus Center Ice Arena. The power play unit registered three goals on four attempts, including two with less than five minutes to play in the third period to seal the victory.

Senior forward and assistant captain Chris Laganiere tallied the team’s first goal of the season on the power play at 2:25 of the first period. Following a holding penalty to Elmira’s Colin Hoey, senior defenseman and assistant captain took a shot from the blue line that deflected off the chest protector of Elmira goalie Darren McDonald. The puck came to rest in the crease, where Laganiere was in perfect position to score on the rebound.

"It felt good to get on the board first and take the momentum over," Laganiere said. "We wanted to pounce on them early and play hard at both ends and I thought we did that tonight."

The second period began much like the first period, with the Lakers scoring in the first few minutes. Sophomore forward Paul Rodrigues scored the game’s second goal at 1:36 of the second period, giving the Lakers a two-goal lead. Rodrigues’ goal was set up by sophomore forward Luke Moodie, who circled behind the net before finding Rodrigues in front of the net, beating McDonald on his stick side.

"Our work ethic was good but I thought our execution was average at best," head coach Ed Gosek said. "I know it’s early in the year, but I don’t want to use that as an excuse. Most of the mistakes were mental mistakes."

Elmira responded quickly to Oswego State’s second goal with a goal of its own. At 3:40 of the second period, Elmira’s Wes Consorti beat Laker goalie Paul Beckwith with a one-timer in front of the net to cut the Laker lead to one. Elmira’s Kevin Willer skated down the right side of the Lakers’ offensive zone before finding Consorti with a cross-crease pass in front of the net on Beckwith’s glove side.

Elmira had two opportunities to tie the game with time winding down in the second period. Mallaro’s mishandling of the puck outside the offensive blue line led to a breakaway chance for Elmira’s Larry Willard, but before Willard had a chance for a shot, junior forward Ian Boots dove to break up the breakaway attempt. Two minutes later, Willard again had a breakaway opportunity but Beckwith was able to squeeze the puck in between his leg pads.

"I’ll give Paul Beckwith credit, he played like a starter," Gosek said. "He did an outstanding job making big saves when we made some pretty significant mistakes."

The Soaring Eagles unraveled in the second half of the third period, taking three penalties. Elmira played a man down for 7:35 during the third period including being two men down for 1:30. With 6:41 remaining and Oswego State clinging to a one goal lead, Elmira’s Tyler Campbell was called for five-minute contact to the head penalty and received a game misconduct. The Lakers took advantage of the extended power play with two goals that sealed the game. Sophomore defenseman Jesse McConney struck first with a wrist shot from the slot that found its way through traffic and over McDonald’s glove. Senior forward Justin Fox scored a minute later with a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle for a three goal lead with 3:51 remaining.

Beckwith earned the win in net for the Lakers, registering 24 saves on 25 shots. Beckwith made 11 saves in the second period to secure the lead going into the second intermission.

"I knew coming into this game that they had a very good offense and that they could shoot and score from anywhere," Beckwith said. "My main thing was to stay focused for the entire game."

"What I liked best of Paul tonight was that he was more aggressive than I’ve seen him in his two years here," Gosek said. "He trapped the puck well. He was out challenging. He wasn’t sitting back in the net. For him to be successful, those are some of the things coach (Pete) Sears has been preaching to him all the time during practice."

McDonald took the loss for Elmira, recording 24 saves on 28 shots.

The Lakers carried their momentum into the team’s first road game of the season. Despite it being only their second game with the team, the freshmen and transfers made a name for themselves in Oswego State’s 4-2 victory.

Freshman forward David Titanic and transfers Ian Boots and Dan Bremner tallied goals for the Lakers, as the team completed the series sweep of the Soaring Eagles. The victory in Elmira is the team’s first since a 2-1 win on Oct. 27, 2006.

The Soaring Eagles took the lead early in the first period on a goal from junior forward Darcy Vaillancourt at 3:42. Campbell and freshman defenseman Matthew Herskovitz were credited with the assists.

Last season, Vaillancourt led all Elmira players in scoring with 40 points on 20 goals and 20 assists.

The Lakers answered with a goal of their own at 5:50 of the first period with Titanic’s first collegiate goal. Titanic was a healthy scratch the night earlier. Senior forward Andrew Mather was credited with the assist.

The game featured just four penalties between the two teams, but both the Lakers and the Soaring Eagles converted on one of their opportunities. The Lakers tallied their fourth power-play goal of the season at 11:00 of the first period by Laganiere to put Oswego State back in the lead.

Following a holding penalty on Bremner, Elmira tied the game on senior defenseman Karl Linden’s power-play goal at 15:15 of the first period. The two teams went into the first intermission tied at two.

Bremner would redeem himself with his first collegiate goal with 54 seconds remaining in the second period. Laganiere and McConney each received an assist on the play. Bremner’s goal would prove to be the game winner.

Boots’ goal 15 seconds into the third period gave the Lakers a two-goal cushion and goalie Paul Beckwith stopped all nine shots to preserve the victory. Beckwith finished with 28 saves to earn his second victory of the season. Elmira goalie Kevin Bolin took the loss, finishing with 32 saves.

The Lakers return home to begin a five-game homestand, beginning with Buffalo State on Friday, Oct. 29, and SUNYFredonia on Saturday, Oct. 30.

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