In a season opening exhibition contest, Oswego State was able to down the CCHL All-Graduate Team by a score of 3-1 in Marano Campus Center Ice Arena thanks to a strong showing from some fresh faces.
Players like Tyson Bruce, Mitch Emerson and Chris MacMillan shined tonight against a talented CCHL opponent.
Bruce, a sophomore, only suited up for three games last season and had just one goal to his credit. Tonight, he already doubled his point total from last season with two assists.
Bruce’s first assist came off a scrum in front of the net that Mitch Emerson was able to slide home past CCHL goaltender Jeremie Forget at the 17:20 mark of the second period. His hustle in front of the net that made the goal possible was something the Aurora, Ontario native credited to his conditioning in the offseason.
“This offseason, I talked to the coaches and we discussed things that would me as a player and help the team,” Bruce said. “I took it very seriously, I knew what it was like here now and coming into my second year I didn’t just want to play I wanted to be an impact player.”
He credited his second assist, a power play goal off the stick of Michael Gillespie midway through the third period, to the power play system.
“The system we run allows us to have that backdoor pass,” Bruce said. “They were cheating to the one side so we found him on the other side and he got a nice shot off.”
Bruce was able to take advantage of a breakdown in the penalty kill by the CCHL All-Graduate team in the defensive zone and find the smooth-handed forward Gillespie in the far slot that would give the Lakers a 2-0 lead, one that they would not relinquish.
Emerson, the beneficiary of Bruce’s hustle in net, also played a large role in tonight’s win. The sophomore finished +2 on the night, having also been on the ice for Chris MacMillan’s empty net goal at 19:46 of the final frame.
Tallying just one goal last year, Emerson saw plenty of ice time tonight on his way to winning 10 of 16 faceoffs, a statistic that paced all Lakers centermen.
Defensively, the Lakers were perfect until the 19:38 mark of the third period when forward Travis Broughman of the Carleton Place Canadians in the CCHL was able to take advantage of a six-on-four created by a Trent Durocher hooking call.
The aforementioned MacMillan was paired with freshman Max Novick for the majority of the evening, and the pair saw lots of power play time during the six Laker man-advantages.
The Lakers special teams unit went 1/6 on the power play and 1/5 on the penalty kill, which is an area that Head Coach Ed Gosek felt his team fell short in.
“We have not spent a lot of time on it,” Gosek said. “Of everything that we worked on penalty kill and power play got the least amount of time in this past week.”
Gosek stated a team goal of going 25 percent on the power play, something that Oswego State fell short of with 16.7%.
“I wasn’t so sure that our puck movement, our options and our grade A opportunities off of it were what we would want at this time of year.”
An aspect of the team that Gosek did feel confident in was the play in net by sophomores David Richer and Cedric Hansen.
A question mark as a unit coming into this season, both goaltenders gave their coaching staff and Laker fans some positive answers.
Richer, in his first game he was able to dress as a Laker got the starting nod tonight.
“It was awesome,” Richer said. “To be honest, it was a big reason I came to Oswego because of the atmosphere and the fans. It was just awesome to get in the net for the first time, I’ve been waiting for this moment for a year now.”
The overjoyed goaltenders wait paid off, as he stopped all 14 shots he faced through 31 minutes and 21 seconds of action.
Coming in relief of Richer was Hansen, who only saw 40 minutes of action through all of last season.
Hansen stopped 12 of the 13 shots he faced, with the only misstep coming on the 6-on-4 with 22 seconds left on the game clock.
Gosek was confident in both goalies performances tonight, and left the door open for either one of them to step up and seize a full-time starting role as the season progresses.
“Right now I don’t think you can go wrong with either guy,” Gosek said. “They both played extremely well tonight. It’s hard to argue they both don’t deserve a game next weekend, based upon their play today. They really deserve to be star number one and star number two.”
Those games next weekend will come against Elmira College on Saturday Oct. 28 at Marano Campus Center Ice Arena and on the road a day later against Hobart College for a Sunday Matinee matchup.
“Elmira will be a heck of a test here,” Gosek said. “Then we’ll have a short turnaround and go play Hobart in their barn in the afternoon. We’ll see what we’re made of.”
The Lakers will look to build upon tonight’s season opening victory in this week of practice and strive to make progress into being the team that Gosek envisions headed into next weekend’s slate of games.