The Oswego State men’s ice hockey team clinched the SUNYAC regular season title and home ice advantage throughout the conference playoffs after disposing of archrival SUNY Plattsburgh, 3-0, on Friday night at a sold-out Campus Center Ice Arena in the annual “White Out” game.
The Lakers penalty kill unit came up huge all game long, killing off a two-minute 5-on-3 advantage for the Cardinals, as well as the other xxx power plays that Plattsburgh had on Friday night. Junior goaltender Andrew Hare played one of his best games in a Laker jersey, recording 27 saves to earn the shutout.
In a match up of two of the top four teams in Division III hockey, it was the Lakers who struck first. Junior defenseman blasted a slap shot off a faceoff win for the Lakers and beat Plattsburgh goaltender Mathieu Cadieux, who didn’t have enough time to react to the puck. Prior to the goal, Plattsburgh had been on the power play for 15 seconds before Jake Mooney took a penalty for interference, resulting in a 4-on-4 for 1:45. It took the Lakers just three seconds into 4-on-4 play to score the game’s first goal. Junior forward Tyler Leimbrock won the ensuing faceoff to McConney, who tallied his sixth goal of the season at 6:06.
Junior forward and assistant captain Jon Whitelaw kept his hot streak going, scoring his team-leading 16th goal of the season on a one-timer from junior forward Luke Moodie at 17:21 of the opening period to give the Lakers a two-goal lead heading into the first period intermission. Junior forward Paul Rodrigues fed a pass to Moodie in the slot and Moodie found Whitelaw inside the left faceoff circle. Whitelaw rocketed a one-timer by Cadieux to put the Cardinals in a 2-0 hole.
Oswego State (20-2-2 overall, 13-0-2 SUNYAC) took three penalties in the first period, giving the Cardinals a plethora of opportunities to put themselves on the scoreboard. But junior goaltender Andrew Hare shut down the Plattsburgh offense in the first 20 minutes, recording 11 saves. Cadieux had 10 saves in the first period.
Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the second period, but both Oswego State and Plattsburgh had a couple opportunities to light the lamp in the frame. The Lakers’ best chance came mid way through the period when Moodie saw his slap shot from the slot deflect off the crossbar and then off the left pipe but not in, keeping the lead at two.
Plattsburgh (16-4-4 overall, 11-3-1 SUNYAC) outshot the Lakers 9-8 in the second period, but Hare continued his strong play in net for Oswego State, keeping the Cardinals off the scoreboard for the first 40 minutes. The Lakers lost composure in the final minute of the second period, as Moodie took a double-minor for roughing and Rodrigues took a penalty for hitting after the whistle. Both Moodie and Rodrigues checked a Cardinal player to the ice following a stoppage of play with 42 seconds remaining in the second period.
The Cardinals had a 5-on-3 power play for the first 1:18 of the third period, but were unable to put the puck past Hare. Plattsburgh’s best chance came late in Moodie’s double-minor penalty when Jake Mooney’s one-timer went just high of a wide-open net.
Oswego State capitalized on its power play chance to increase the lead to three at 7:05 of the third period on a slap shot from the right faceoff circle from junior forward Chris Ayotte. At the tail end of a tripping penalty by Plattsburgh’s Alex Brenton, junior defenseman Zach Josepher wristed a shot from the blue line that deflected off the leg of a Cardinal defender and right to Ayotte, who blasted a slap shot just under the crossbar for his seventh goal of the season.
Cadieux finished with 25 saves on 28 shots faced in a losing effort for Plattsburgh.
With the victory, the Lakers clinch their third straight SUNYAC regular season title and will have home ice advantage throughout the conference playoffs. The Cardinals will serve as the No. 2 seed and receive a first-round bye in the SUNYAC tournament that begins on Wednesday, Feb. 22.
The Lakers close out the regular season against SUNY Potsdam on Saturday, Feb. 18, as part of Senior Day at the Campus Center Ice Arena.