It has been a long time since the second-ranked Oswego State men’s ice hockey team played a game in front of the student section. The last time the Lakers played in front of a near-capacity crowd was on Dec. 10 against Hobart College. The student section is back and so are the Lakers, as they host SUNY Fredonia on Friday night and Buffalo State on Saturday night at the Campus Center Ice Arena.
The Blue Devils come into the game tied for third in the SUNYAC standings with Buffalo State. Fredonia is 5-5-3 in conference play and Buffalo State is 6-6-1. The Blue Devils are the last team to defeat the Lakers at the Campus Center Ice Arena, defeating Oswego State, 2-1, in overtime on Feb. 26 in the SUNYAC semifinal. Ben Waldman netted the game-winning goal at 11:34 of the extra period to send the Blue Devils to the SUNYAC Championship, where they would fall to SUNY Plattsburgh.
The Lakers got the best of Fredonia in their first meeting this season. Oswego State tallied the first four goals of the game and coasted to a 4-1 victory at Steele Hall on Nov. 18. Senior forwards Andrew Mather and Ian Boots and junior forwards Luke Moodie and Chris Muise all scored for the Lakers. Junior goaltender Andrew Hare finished with 16 saves on 17 shots faced to earn the victory in net. The Lakers outshot the Blue Devils 41-17.
Fredonia is led by senior forward Bryan Ross, who has amassed 31 points on 10 goals and 21 assists. Ross is tied for 10th in Division III in scoring. His 21 assists this season is 11th in Division III. Ross recorded a six-point night, tallying three goals and three assists against SUNY Potsdam on Nov. 12, but was held scoreless against Oswego State in the first matchup this season. Junior forward Mat Hehr is second on the team in scoring with 18 points on eight goals and 10 assists.
The Blue Devils have three sophomore goaltenders on the roster, but Mark Friesen is the go-to goaltender for Fredonia. Friesen has appeared in 20 games this season, going 10-6-2 with a 2.59 goals against average and a .920 save percentage. Friesen had his best game of his career against Oswego State last year in the playoffs, recording 43 saves on 44 shots faced.
Fredonia’s offense ranks 24th at 3.48 goals per game and the defense allows 2.76 goals per game. The Blue Devils have tallied five or more goals six times this season, including a nine-goal outburst against Potsdam. But Fredonia has started off slowly, scoring no more than one goal in each first period in 19 games this season. They have scored just 13 goals in the first period, compared to 28 in the second and 31 in the third.
The Blue Devil power play is ranked 23rd at 21.5 percent efficient and the penalty kill is ranked 20th at 84.7 percent.
Fredonia is at its strongest when leading after two periods, but hasn’t shown the ability to comeback from a deficit going into the third period. The Blue Devils are 8-0-1 when leading after 40 minutes and 0-7-2 when trailing after two periods. The road has not been kind either, as Fredonia is just 1-4-2 away from Steele Hall.
The Lakers conclude the weekend with Buffalo State, a team that fell to Potsdam and Plattsburgh last weekend. Prior to playing the Lakers, the Bengals will travel to play SUNY Cortland on Friday night. Oswego State defeated Buffalo State, 5-3, on Nov. 19 at the Buffalo State Sports Arena. Trailing 3-2 early in the third period, the Lakers scored the final three goals to pull away from the Bengals. Junior forward Paul Rodrigues scored twice and Hare recorded 22 saves on 25 shots faced.
Junior forwards Trevor McKinney and Justin Knee lead the team in scoring with 27 points and 22 points, respectively. Knee scored twice in the first matchup with the Lakers, while McKinney recorded an assist. McKinney leads the team in goals with 14 and Knee leads the team in assists with 14. McKinney’s 14 goals is tied for the 16th most in Division III.
Before scoring just one goal last weekend, the Bengals put up 12 goals in a rout of Morrisville State College. The Bengal offense has also scored eight goals twice, both of which were against SUNYAC opponents. The offense ranks 13th with 3.82 goals per game. The defense gives up an average of 3.14 goals per game. The Bengals allowed nine goals against Utica College on Dec. 3. Buffalo State’s defense is allowing just 17 goals in the first period, but is allowing 23 in the second period and 28 in the third period.
Sophomore goaltender Kevin Carr will more than likely be in net for the Bengals on Saturday night. Carr has amassed an 8-10-2 record in net with a 3.06 goals against average and a .904 save percentage. Carr has one shutout this season.
The power play has been Buffalo State’s strong suit this season, as it ranks fifth at 27.36 percent. The penalty kill unit is ranked 30th at 82.9 percent.
The Bengals are 4-6-1 on the road and are 0-28-4 all-time against the Lakers.