It’s funny what a difference a year makes. Not only was I new to Oswego State, broadcasting and this hockey team that we all know and love, but 14 new freshmen and transfer players were making their first appearance at the Campus Center Ice Arena this time last year as well. Fast forward a year and expectations for the Lakers are higher than ever. Just two regular season games in, and already this team looks poised for yet another magical run.
Chemistry. Despite the loss of forwards Neil Musselwhite, Brad Dormeidy and Eric Selleck, the forward lines are relatively still together. The one line that hasn’t missed a beat is that of sophomores Paul Rodrigues, Jon Whitelaw and Luke Moodie. The deadly combination of speed and skill in all three guys should make this line the top scoring trio on the team. Junior Ian Boots, a transfer from Ohio State replaces Selleck’s spot on the line with seniors Chris Laganiere and Justin Fox. The line already has eight points through one weekend so I’d say Boots is filling Selleck’s shoes quite admirably.
Beck again. Junior Paul Beckwith finds himself in a very familiar spot as the starting goaltender for the Lakers. An unfortunate illness last season allowed Kyle Gunn-Taylor to take his job and run with it. This season, with sophomore Dan Jones as his only back-up, Beckwith looks to get the bulk of the playing time once again, barring any outside circumstances. He has only surrendered three goals in two games, earning the victory in two games against Elmira College.
Shorthanded. The Lakers are looking to fill the void after losing Musselwhite and Dormeidy, arguably the best penalty killing forward duo in D-III hockey, the Lakers look to fill that void. Senior Owen Kelly and Sophomore Chris Muise, in particular, have stood out through the first two games vs. Elmira. Junior Andrew Mather has also been a factor. The Lakers allowed one power-play goal during the weekend series.
Defensive Logjam. Although Junior defenseman Hank Van BoxMeer will miss at least the first half of the season due to an injury, Oswego State still has plenty of options on defense, maybe too many. Senior captain Kevin Huinink and assistant captain Stephen Mallaro are locks to play most games, while sophomores Michael Gilchrist and Taylor Farris have been mainstays throughout their Oswego State careers as well. So far we’ve seen junior Tim Carr and sophomore Jesse McConney make up the fifth line on defense, but junior Jared Anderson is waiting anxiously in the wings, coming off an injury plagued 2009-10 season in which he was slated to be a regular starter. It is a good problem to have, and coach Ed Gosek will have quite a decision to make is all eight guys are healthy for Van Boxmeer’s return.
New kids on the block. Joining the team this season are senior forward Dan Bremner from D-I Mercyhurst College and freshman forwards David Titanic, Corey Domenico and Kyle Badham. Bremner and Titanic have already been factors, joining Boots as players to score their first Laker goals Saturday night at the Murray Athletic Center in Elmira.
This version of the Oswego State Lakers – a good mix of veterans, rookies and everything in between has the look of a team on a mission. A mission with only one goal in sight: the Xcel Energy Center in Minneapolis, and a second Division III National Championship.