Oswego State Falls Just Short in National Title Game

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – The Oswego State men’s ice hockey team (25-5-0) nearly overcame a two-goal deficit in the third period, but came up short in the end as the Lakers lost to UW-Eau Claire (24-5-2), 5-3, in the NCAA Division III Men’s Ice Hockey National Championship Saturday night at Herb Brooks Arena.

Bobby Gertsakis (So., Pickering, Ontario) pulled Oswego State to within one goal with 10 minutes remaining, but the Lakers could not force overtime as the Blugolds added an empty-net goal 58.1 seconds on the clock.

UW-Eau Claire applied heavy pressure in its offensive zone in the early stages of the game, but Oswego State stood tall in the flourish until Chris Muise (Sr., Oakville, Ontario) drew an elbowing penalty at 8:44

Zach Josepher (Sr., Wantagh, N.Y.) and Tyler Leimbrock (Sr., Bolton, Ontario) had two shots stopped by UW-Eau Claire goalie Brandon Stephenson. However, with one second remaining on the power play, Bobby Gertsakis (So., Pickering, Ontario) lifted a shot over Stephenson under the crossbar from near the right post as Stephenson went down to the ice at 10:44. Gertsakis received the pass from Luke Moodie (Sr., Oakville, Ontario) in the slot after he was fed by Jesse McConney (Sr., Barrie, Ontario).

On the next shift, Muise put Oswego State ahead 2-0 with a shot from the slot that beat Stephenson at the 11:15 mark. Chris Brown (Sr., Centreville, Ontario) hit Muise with the pass from the near boards after a UWEC shot went off the right post.

It was the Blugolds turn to go on the power play at 14:17 in the first after a Laker boarding penalty, and it didn’t take long for them to cash in as Jordan Singer scored of the ensuing faceoff with a wrist shot at the top of the slot that went between Hare’s five-hole. Assists were given to David Donnellan and Drew Darwitz.

The goal energized UW-Eau Claire, as it killed off a Laker power play before leveling the score with 53.3 seconds left in the first after a goal by Andrew Wilcox, who buried a pass from Darwitz. Hare ended the period with 11 saves compared to nine for Stephenson.

Oswego State killed off a penalty early in the second, but UW-Eau Claire continued to attack in the offensive zone. Wilcox took a shot in the slot that was stopped by Hare, but the rebound landed on the stick of Daniel Olszewski, who pounced on the rebound at 6:29 to put the Blugolds out in front, 3-2.

The Lakers went back on the power play after a slashing penalty at 9:21, and gained a 5-on-3 advantage for 41 seconds following another whistle. UW-Eau Claire killed off that opportunity and the subsequent penalty to maintain its one-goal lead.

The Lakers closed out the stanza with a series of quality shifts, but came up empty as they drew a Blugold penalty with 59.7 seconds left in the second, which carried over into the final period trailing 3-2.

UW-Eau Claire survived the Oswego State pressure until the Blugolds’ Devin Mantha split the defense on an outlet pass from Jared Williams at 7:20 in the third to grab a 4-2 lead.

Oswego State was not finished, though, as Bobby Gertsakis netted his second goal of the game from the top of the right faceoff circle at the 10-minute mark to cut the Laker deficit in half after being the beneficiary of a Muise pass.

Shortly after the goal, the Lakers were forced to call timeout after a long defensive shift that saw UW-Eau Claire have several good looks at the net before the puck was iced with 8:26 remaining in regulation.

As the period dwindled, Oswego State continued to press the issue offensively, but Stephenson was up to the challenge, finishing the game with 27 saves.

Hare, who ended up with 20 saves, was pulled with 1:19 left on the clock to give the Lakers the extra attacker. UW-Eau Claire cleared the puck out of its defensive zone, which allowed Kurt Weston to score the empty-net goal. Oswego State pulled Hare again, but did not score.

Gertsakis and Chris Muise (Sr., Oakville, Ontario) were named to the all-tournament team.

The 14 Laker seniors graduate with a career record of 98-17-2, while winning two SUNYAC Championships and appearing in four Frozen Fours and a pair of national championship contests.