OSWEGO, N.Y. – The Oswego State men’s ice hockey team ran into a hot goaltender in Thatcher Demko, as the Lakers lost 2-0 in an exhibition game against the USA Under-18 team Saturday night in front of a sold-out Campus Center Ice Arena.
Demko was impressive in goal, finishing with 31 saves to earn the shutout in Team USA’s 11th game of the season.
The Lakers dictated play throughout most of the first period due in large part to back-to-back Team USA penalties. The first quality scoring opportunity of the game coming at the 10:30 when Chris Ayotte (Sr., Cornwall, Ont.) skated in on USA goalie Thatcher Demko alone after getting behind the defense.
His wrist shot from the right face-off circle clanged off the left post. Oswego State continued to ride the momentum, as David Titanic (Jr., Markham, Ont.) nearly slid a backhand past Demko as he was brought down to the ice. However, the shot went wide right to keep the home team off the scoreboard.
As the period elapsed, Team USA turned the tides as it fell into an offensive rhythm pressuring the defense. Kevin Labanc carried the puck into the zone where he took a wrist shot from near the top of the left circle that found its way past screened Laker netminder Andrew Hare’s (Sr., Burlington, Ont.) along the ice through his five-hole with 1:32 remaining in the frame. Will Butcher earned an assist on the play. Hare finished the period with 13 saves.
The second period was rather uneventful until the final five minutes when Team USA was whistled for the first of three penalties. During the first power play of the series, Oswego State got several good looks at the net, but Demko turned away each attempt. A Laker penalty negated the skater advantage a minute later, but a Zach Josepher (Sr., Wantagh, N.Y.) and Titanic breakaway resulted in another Team USA penalty after Titanic’s one-time tap went wide right. Oswego State had a two-man advantage for 27 seconds at the end of the frame, but came up empty on the scoreboard to head into the locker room still trailing by one goal. Senior Daniel Jones (Richmond Hill, Ont.) played the stanza in goal for the Lakers, recording six saves.
One minute into the third, Titanic nearly tied the game again after his one-timer went just wide of the goal. However, Team USA added its second goal at 8:25 with one second remaining on a 4-on-4 situation when Shane Eiserman pounded the puck past freshman Justin Gilbert (Ottawa, Ont.). Assists were credited to Hudson Fasching and Gage Ausmus. The Lakers nearly pulled to within one goal late in the period, but Demko kept the goal sealed shut. Gilbert ended the period with 19 saves, as Team USA dictated play for much of the frame.
Neither squad was successful on the power play, as Oswego State went 0-for-7 and Team USA was 0-for-2.
The Lakers open conference play next Friday when they host Cortland at 7 p.m.