Close But No Cigar
Even if you did not watch this game, most would come to the conclusion that the Lakers just could not finish on their chances.
If you read the box score and see one goal on 37 shots with 55 shot attempts, most people would would figure out that putting the puck in the net was no easy task for the Lakers. It was not easy for either team, to be fair, but Oswego State was tied with SUNY Geneseo in goals per game at the top spot in Div. III coming into Saturday’s game. They only managed the single tally all night.
There have been only two occasions all season where Oswego State was held to a goal or less in 60 minutes. Add Saturday night, the most anticipated game of the season, to the same list that Buffalo State and Nazareth College are on.
“We had a lot of grade-a opportunities, and we didn’t score on any of them,” head coach Ed Gosek said post game. I don’t think we gave up a grade-a in the second period. [I] really thought that was the difference between the first time we played them and this time.”
And it was. Oswego State simply capitalized more effectively when then they were up in Plattsburgh earlier in the year. It is not like they were kept to the outside by the Cardinals’ defense and were just throwing pucks toward Brady Rouleau. These happened to be quality chances.
There was this quick shot from TJ Sneath early on.
Then Jody Sullivan somehow put this puck wide.
And the Lakers’ leading scorer, Shawn Hulshof, could not find a hole on Rouleau on this breakaway after Matt Galati found him streaking in all alone.
Hulshof said post game that he worked on breakaways a lot in practice this week, too. Maybe he was not expecting the poke check.
The senior Rouleau was the reason the Cardinals escaped with two points.
The slow start had a familiar feel to the meeting in last year’s SUNYAC semifinal matchup. A scoreless first period played out as both teams just tried to settle in, ignore the all the extra noise and play hockey. As was the case tonight.
Oswego State started to turn it on in the second period, but Rouleau never faltered.
He came up with big saves again, and again, and again. It is not fair to say this is surprising, but Rouleau has not been the stud he was on Saturday during other parts of his season. He was sporting a 3.07 goals against average and a .880 save percentage coming in. Neither of those numbers are flattering, but it did not matter.
This shot off the stick of Hulshof was just begging to become a rebound chance, but he smothered it for a whistle.
He gave Sullivan absolutely nothing to shoot at here. And again, held the puck for a faceoff with the big body of Chris Waterstreet bearing down on him.
Rouleau did just about everything a coach could ask of his goaltender. 36 saves and second star recognition, that is a pretty good night out of the senior from Alberta, Canada.
“I thought he played very well,” Gosek said. “He was the difference in the game. They played hard. They played a smart game. I would think that that’s a game they would want to play, a tight checking game on the road. [Rouleau] was very good. You’re going to face that in the playoffs with every team. So, you gotta finish on your chances when you get them.”
If only getting pucks past Rouleau came as easy as this on Saturday night.
The Berry Penalty
For the second night in a row, Oswego State was put in a vulnerable position by taking a costly penalty at a bad time. Cameron Berry’s boarding call at 7:25 of the third period put the Lakers down two men for 36 seconds. Now that is not a huge amount of time, but for a penalty kill that is struggling as of late – only a 5-11 success rate over the last three games – it may seem like an eternity.
And with just half the time killed off of the 5-on-3, SUNY Plattsburgh struck. Philip Middleton from Cam Owens and Ayrton Valente.
There is not much else Mitchell Herlihey or Chris Raguseo could have done here. You could say Raguseo should have been up higher, but that leaves the back door pass wide open. That is just good puck movement up top to free space and a better shot by Middleton.
“I believe in our penalty kill,” David Jacobson said. “I know the team believes in the penalty kill. [It] hasn’t been going our way, but we’ll work hard Monday when we get back here for practice, and we’ll get better at it.”
Gosek did not seem to agree with the call post game without watching the replay yet to form a more well-rounded opinion.
“From the bench, I thought the two of them went in hard,” Gosek said. “It wasn’t like the kid turned his back or anything else and [the ref] calls boarding. So, that’s his decision, whatever. As I said to them, the only thing that bothers me, if that’s your season, if this a playoff game and your season is going to end or continue, you want to make that call in a game like that?”
Watch the play and see for yourself.
I have to agree with Gosek. Berry is not moving his feet. There is no contact to the head, or is the hit malicious in any way. He made contact with Kyle Hall’s left shoulder first, so Hall knew he was there. The hit was not at all violent, and Hall immediately gets up afterward. It even appears to look like Hall was readying himself to lay the body on Berry just before the hit.
Valente’s hit on Hulshof that led to the Lakers’ power play goal is a different story.
This could have been either a cross-check or a hit from behind. Take your pick.
Somehow, some way Morrisville State was able to knock off Buffalo State. The 8-2 final is shocking to say the least. A loss like that will almost certainly knock them out of the top 15 come Monday.
SUNY Geneseo was off tonight and remains at 17 points. SUNY Plattsburgh has snuck back in the hunt with three games left on its schedule. I think we all saw that coming.
Oswego State will remain at 23 points with SUNY Canton on the schedule twice next weekend. Next weekend’s games will shed a lot more light on the playoff picture.
Buffalo State is playing the College at Brockport and SUNY Geneseo, while Plattsburgh has one game against SUNY Potsdam on the road. SUNY Geneso will start the weekend at SUNY Fredonia then travel to take on the Bengals, as previously mentioned.
The Lakers are in a good spot, but the race for first place is far from over.