Lakers look to capture SUNYAC regular season title against archrival Plattsburgh

Perhaps the most intense rivalry in Division III hockey adds a new chapter Friday night when the top-ranked Oswego State men’s ice hockey team hosts fourth-ranked SUNY Plattsburgh in the annual “White Out” game at the Campus Center Ice Arena.

The Lakers can clinch the SUNYAC regular season title and home ice throughout the conference playoffs with a victory over the Cardinals. Oswego State is 5-0-1 in its last six games against Plattsburgh after a winless streak of 10 games against it rival. The Cardinals lead the all-time series with a 67-31-4 record.

The two teams met in Plattsburgh on Dec. 2, playing to a 2-2 tie. Junior forward Jon Whitelaw scored the game’s first goal at 9:16 to give the Lakers a one-goal lead after the first period. Paul Puglisi tied the game in the first two minutes of the second period before junior forward Chris Ayotte gave the Lakers their second one-goal lead of the game at 6:06. Plattsburgh battled back again less than two minutes later on Alex Jensen’s goal at 7:21. Neither team was able to find the back of the net for the rest of the game. Junior goaltender Andrew Hare finished with 35 saves and Plattsburgh’s Mathieu Cadieux recorded 34 saves.

The Lakers come into the game on a nine-game win streak and sit atop the SUNYAC standings at 12-0-2. Oswego State has been rolling offensively as of late and leads Division III in scoring with 4.78 goals per game. Oswego State scored eight goals in its final road game of the regular season at Morrisville State College and hung a season-high 10 goals on SUNY Fredonia at home last Friday. Whitelaw is coming off his first career hat trick against Buffalo State on Saturday night, which followed a two-goal performance against Fredonia. Whitelaw leads the team with 34 points on 15 goals and 19 assists. His 34 points this season is tied for 12th in Division III scoring.

Plattsburgh’s offense is ranked 22nd with 3.52 goals per game, but has struggled as of late, scoring three goals or less in six of its last seven games. The Cardinals hadn’t lost in 14 consecutive games before being stunned by The College at Brockport, 4-2, on Friday night. It was the first loss to the Golden Eagles in their history. Plattsburgh recovered the following night, defeating SUNY Geneseo, 2-1, to keep its slim hopes of capturing the SUNYAC regular season title alive. The Cardinals come into the game with the Lakers in second place in the conference at 11-2-1. Senior forward Kyle Kudroch leads the team in scoring with 20 points on nine goals and 11 assists.

Oswego State and Plattsburgh are both ranked third in team defense, allowing 1.87 goals per game. Both the Lakers and the Cardinals have held their opponents to one or fewer goals in 11 games this season. Hare and Cadieux are among the top goalies in Division III this season. Hare has recorded 16 wins, allowing 1.82 goals per game and a .928 save percentage. Hare’s goals against average ranks seventh and his save percentage ranks ninth. Cadieux has 13 wins in net for the Cardinals and sports a 1.73 goals per game average and a .933 save percentage. Cadieux’s goals against average ranks third and his save percentage ranks fifth. Cadieux has recorded three shutouts, while Hare has recorded one.

The Lakers hold a substantial margin over the Cardinals in terms of their power play unit, but the opposite is true of their penalty kill unit. Oswego State is 10th in power play efficiency, scoring on just over 25 percent of their extra man advantages. Plattsburgh’s power play is ranked 34th, capitalizing on just under 20 percent of its power play opportunities. The Cardinals boast the top penalty kill units in the country, stopping 93.4 percent of opponents’ power plays. The Cardinals have allowed just five power-play goals on 76 chances. Plattsburgh takes the fewest penalties in Division III, averaging under eight minutes of penalties. The Lakers penalty kill ranks 10th at 86.7 percent, allowing 16 power-play goals on 120 opportunities. The Lakers commit about 18 minutes of penalties per game.

The Campus Center Ice Arena has been kind to the Lakers this season, as they are 10-1-1 in front of their home fans. Oswego State is 5-0-1 at home against conference opponents. All three of the Cardinals’ losses this season have come away from the Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena. Plattsburgh is 5-2-3 on the road and 0-1-0 in games played on neutral ice. Both teams have not lost when scoring the first goal of the game. The same holds true when holding a lead after the second period.

Offensively, the Lakers have gotten better as the game has progressed. Oswego State has started slow, scoring 11 less goals in the first period than any other period. The Lakers score 43 goals in the third period, most of any period. The defense is the opposite. The Lakers, defensively, allow just 11 goals in the first period before allowing 16 goals in the second and third periods. The Cardinals are at their best in the second period. Plattsburgh scores 30 goals in the second period, while allowing just 11 goals.

Oswego State and Plattsburgh will meet in the annual “White Out” game on Friday, Feb. 17, at 7 p.m. in front of a sold-out Campus Center Ice Arena. The game can be heard on 88.9 FM WNYO, seen on WTOP-10 or followed on Live Stats via the Oswego State athletics page.

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