For the second consecutive season, the No. 4/4 Oswego State Lakers men’s hockey team will be the No. 1 seed for the SUNYAC playoffs following tonight’s 4-2 victory in the Marano Campus Center over their conference rivals, the No. 7/7 SUNY Geneseo Knights.
The star of the night was unquestionably Oswego State forward Mitchell Herlihey, who notched two goals to give him 100 points for his career.
“I thought it was a great game, a great win for us,” Herlihey said. “It’s a cool achievement. I’m glad it’s over with. Too many people have been asking me about it lately, so I’m glad I can just forget about it and worry about winning a league championship.”
Oswego State jumped out to a 3-0 lead following the first period that saw them dominate the offensive zone, despite only a 7-4 shot advantage.
Just 1:56 into the game, SUNY Geneseo goaltender Devin McDonald made a huge glove save on a point blank opportunity from the stick of Cam Berry that appeared to set the tone for the Knights in their defensive zone.
Just 2:36 later, the Lakers would get on the board following a Carter Allen point shot that was tipped in right under the crossbar by AJ D’Orazio to give Oswego State a 1-0 lead.
The Lakers would continue dominating the scoreboard in the first period when sophomore forward Josh Zizek made a power driven effort behind the net to strip a Knights defender and find a waiting Mitchell Herlihey in front of the net who buried it past the glove of McDonald for his 99th career point and to give Oswego State a 2-0 lead.
“I thought we had the energy and played a simple game in the first period,” Oswego State head coach Ed Gosek said. “I thought in the first period we did all the little things the right way.”
Penalties began to make a difference toward the end of the first frame when Mitch Ferguson of SUNY Geneseo tripped up Lakers forward Josh Zizek on the side of the net during a scoring chance to put Oswego State on the power play. 40 seconds later, at the 15:46 mark, Berry was able to pick up a rebound in front of the net to get retribution on McDonald for his robbery earlier in the game.
For the remainder of the contest, however, goaltending from both sides stole the show.
Both David Richer of Oswego State and McDonald put on a highlight display throughout the second period that left plenty of forwards from each team frustrated.
“In the second period I thought [SUNY Geneseo] had a good push back,” Gosek said. “They had a lot of zone time.”
In the third period, SUNY Geneseo made a strong push to put the deficit within one. Before they were able to get on the board, though, Conlan Keenan, who was one of the Knights goal scorers, had a penalty shot opportunity.
Early in the third period, Oswego State defenseman Charlie Pelnik lost the puck on the offensive blue line to Keenan who flew down the ice and got tripped up by Josh Zizek in front of the Laker net.
For his penalty shot, Keenan had Richer beat blocker side, but found the post to keep the Knights scoreless.
Keenan would follow up less than six minutes later to put SUNY Geneseo on the board.
That goal off the stick of Keenan led to a strong momentum swing in favor of the Knights that continued when Duggie Lagrone scored on a slapshot from the point to put the game within one.
The Lakers would weather the storm and Herlihey would tack on an empty netter with 18.4 seconds remaining to join the 100 point club and seal the 4-2 victory and the top seed in the SUNYAC playoffs for Oswego State.
The Lakers will return to action tomorrow night as they travel to the College at Brockport to take on the Golden Eagles, who are still fighting for a playoff spot in the cluttered SUNYAC.