Lakers look to avenge loss to Morrisville last season

Oswego State LakersMorrisville State MustangsThe Oswego State men’s ice hockey team finished the 2010-11 season with a 15-1-0 SUNYAC record, earning the No. 1 seed in the conference playoffs. However, the Lakers’ lone conference loss last season was a 5-2 decision to Morrisville State College at the Campus Center Ice Arena on Feb. 12, 2011. The Mustangs received goals from five different players and goalie Caylin Relkoff finished the game with 37 saves, as Morrisville earned its first victory over the Lakers in program history.

The Mustangs’ roster looks dramatically different after losing eight senior a year ago, including arguably the best goalie in the SUNYAC last season in Relkoff. Relkoff finished last season with a 9-13-1 overall record, sporting a 3.62 goals against average and a .898 save percentage. In conference play, Relkoff compiled a 7-7-1 record, registering a 3.32 goals against average and a .909 save percentage. Relkoff helped lead the Mustangs to the No. 5 seed in the SUNYAC playoffs, losing to SUNY Plattsburgh in overtime in the SUNYAC Quarterfinal round. The Mustangs lost two of their three goalies last year. The other goalie lost to graduation, Dave Labaff, appeared in just two games last season, recording four saves. The only returning goalie on the roster is sophomore Colin Breen, who played in five games last season. The Mustangs added sophomore Christopher Azzano to give Morrisville two goalies to work with this season.

The Mustangs lost two of their top scorers, forwards Bobby Cass and Rob Sgarbossa. Cass registered 20 points on eight goals and 10 assists and Sgarbossa recorded 18 points on seven goals and 11 assists. However, Morrisville does return its top two scorers in Tyler Swan and Geoff Matzel. Swan led the team in scoring with 25 points on 10 goals and 15 assists, while Matzel was second on the team in scoring with 20 points on 12 goals and eight assists. Swan led the team in both game-winning goals (2) and power-play goals (6). Matzel led the team in shorthanded goals (3).

The Lakers will be well-rested coming into Saturday’s conference matchup, as the Mustangs will have to travel to SUNY Cortland on Friday night before traveling to Oswego State on Saturday. The Lakers do not play on Friday night. The game against Cortland will be pivotal for the Mustangs, who sit tied for seventh in the conference with the Red Dragons. Morrisville won its opening conference game against SUNY Potsdam, before losing its next three games. The Lakers sit atop the SUNYAC at 3-0-0, owning the tiebreaker with SUNY Geneseo.

Overall, the Mustangs have struggled in the early part of the season, limping to a 1-3-0 overall record. Morrisville has been outshot 43-31 and is giving up 4.75 goals per game, while only scoring 2.75 goals per game. The Mustangs have just two power-play goals on 16 attempts for a 12.5 success rate. Morrisville has allowed seven power-play goals on 25 attempts for a 72 percent success rate. The Lakers have scored 10 power-play goals this season on 38 attempts for a 26.3 percent success rate. Oswego State’s power play ranks 20th in D-III. Junior forward Paul Rodrigues is tied for the D-III lead with three power-play goals. The Laker penalty kill is ranked 17th with an 89.7 success rate (35-of-39).

The Mustangs will have a tough time containing the Laker offense, who come into the game sporting a 5.33 goals per game, which is 8th in D-III. The Lakers are led by junior forward and assistant captain Jon Whitelaw, who leads D-III in scoring with 12 points on four goals and eight assists in six games.

The Lakers have surrendered just 11 goals so far this season, which is the same amount of goals that Morrisville has scored so far this season. The Oswego State defense is ranked 8th in D-III at 1.83 goals allowed per game.

Much like the Mustangs, the Lakers have two goalies that they could possible choose from for Saturday’s game in Andrew Hare and Dan Jones. Hare started four consecutive games after senior goaltender Paul Beckwith went down with a knee injury in the season opener, while Jones played in the Lakers’ 7-1 victory over the College at Brockport last Saturday. Hare will more than likely get the start in net for the Lakers after getting a rest against Brockport.

The Lakers and Mustangs meet on Saturday night at 7 p.m. at the Campus Center Ice Arena. It marks the final conference home game for the Lakers this semester, as Oswego State has four consecutive road games against SUNY Fredonia, Buffalo State, Plattsburgh and Potsdam in the next two weekends.

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