OSWEGO, N.Y. – The third-ranked Oswego State men’s ice hockey team (23-3-2) punched its third straight ticket to the NCAA Division III Men’s Ice Hockey Championships behind the strength of four third-period goals in a 5-0 quarterfinal win over 11th-ranked Elmira (15-9-3) Saturday at the Campus Center Arena. The victory marks the first time in program history that the Lakers have reached the Frozen Four in three consecutive seasons.
The Lakers held a tenuous one-goal lead heading into the final stanza before tallying four goals in a ten-minute span. Oswego State also received a solid effort from junior goaltender Andrew Hare (Burlington, Ont.), who posted his fourth shutout of the season after stopping 23 shots, to register the 33rd shutout in Division III Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament history.
Both squads played a tight defensive game in the first period. It was not until 11:31 in the frame, though, when Ian Boots (Sr., Akwesasne, N.Y.) put the Lakers on the board. He got the puck behind the net and tried a wraparound near the far post, but was stopped by Soaring Eagle goalie Darren McDonald. However, McDonald was unable to contain the rebound, as Boots took several stabs at puck while on his knees before it crossed the goal line. Tyler Leimbrock (Jr., Bolton, Ont.) and Chris Muise were credited with assists, as Oswego State took a 1-0 lead into intermission.
The Lakers came out with increased intensity in the second period, but were unable to get shots through the Elmira defense. Play evened out as the stanza wore on before the Soaring Eagles were called for a slashing penalty in the waning moments. Oswego State did not get any quality looks at the net before the horn sounded, as it still owned a one-goal advantage heading into the final 20 minutes.
Just over three minutes into the third, Matt Singleton (Jr., Whitby, Ont.) capitalized on an Elmira turnover at its blue line during a long Soaring Eagle shift. Singleton picked up the loose puck as a defender lost his footing, allowing Singleton to skate in unabated to the goalie. He ripped a shot that went just under the crossbar over McDonald’s left shoulder for his fifth goal of the season, giving the Lakers a 2-0 lead.
Less than a minute after the goal, Oswego State was whistled for back-to-back penalties resulting in a 5-on-3 advantage for the visitors for 21 seconds. The Lakers effectively killed off the first infraction before Taylor Farris (Jr., Oakville, Ont.) blocked an Elmira shot near the right point less than 20 seconds later. Farris tapped the puck up to Boots, who was open on the far side for a breakaway opportunity on McDonald. Boots got his shot past the Elmira netminder’s glove side for his 12th marker of the season and the team’s sixth shorthanded goal of the year at 6:19.
Oswego State made it a 4-0 game at 11:53, while on a 4-on-3 power play courtesy of Zack Josepher (Jr., Wantagh, N.Y.). Josepher laced a shot from the slot into the back of the net after a series of passes from Jon Whitelaw (Jr., Huntsville, Ont.) and Luke Moodie (Jr., Oakville, Ont.) closed in on the Elmira penalty-kill unit.
The Lakers’ final goal came when Kyle Badham (So., Oakville, Ont.) hit Singleton with a cross-ice pass that created a rare odd-man rush for Singleton and Chris Ayotte (Jr., Cornwall, Ont.). Singleton slid a pass under a Soaring Eagle defenseman to Ayotte, who made no mistake on the quick shot, for his eighth goal of the season at 13:55.
In a contest with few penalties, Oswego State capitalized on the chances it was given, as it went 1-for-2 on the power play and scored a shorthanded goal. Elmira finished 0-for-3 with the extra skater.
Hare improved to 20-3-2 with the decision, while Darren McDonald finished with 17 saves in the losing effort.
Oswego State will face second-ranked Amherst (24-3-1) on Friday, March 16 at 7:30 p.m. in Lake Placid, N.Y. The Lord Jeffs defeated Plattsburgh, 3-1, to advance to the semifinal round. Tickets can be purchased at ncaa.com/tickets or by calling the Olympic Center Box Office at 518-523-3330 from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.