OSWEGO, N.Y. – Most Division III men’s ice hockey programs would have been satisfied with a 26-win season and an appearance in the NCAA Semifinals. But, for Oswego State, it left the Lakers hungry to return to the post-season for a chance to compete for their second-ever national championship. This aspiration, in addition to the desire to defend its SUNYAC title, has helped the Oswego State men’s ice hockey team establish extremely high expectations for the 2010-11 season.
Head coach Ed Gosek and the Lakers posted one of the most memorable seasons in program history a year ago with an overall record of 26-3-0 and a league record of 15-1-0, winning their eighth conference championship, and reaching the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007 with four seniors on the roster. However, Oswego State will have large shoes to fill due to the departure of forwards Neil Musselwhite and Brad Dormiedy, defenseman Tyler Lyon, and goalie Kyle Gunn-Taylor, as well as Eric Selleck, who decided to forgo his final two years of eligibility by signing a professional contract with the Florida Panthers.
Senior captain Kevin Huinink and senior assistant captains Chris Laganiere and Stephen Mallaro will direct an experienced Oswego State squad that is up to the challenges set before them.
Huinink and Mallaro lead a veteran defense that also consists of three juniors and three sophomores, who have each seen significant collegiate playing time. Huinink developed into one of the top defensemen in the conference by the end of the season as evident by being named the SUNYAC Playoff Most Valuable Player, and will set an example on and off the ice. Mallaro, a First Team All-SUNYAC selection, led all Laker defensemen in scoring last season and provided a spark along the blueline for the power-play unit with six goals.
Junior Jared Anderson returns to action after suffering a season-ending injury in the 2009-10 season opener, but far from lacks game-day experience as he was a regular his freshman year. Hank Van Boxmeer suffered an off-season injury that may allow him to return to the ice after mid-season. Classmate Tim Carr will vie for playing time this season after transferring in January from Division I UMass-Lowell. A talented trio of sophomores, Taylor Farris, Michael Gilchrist, and Jesse McConney, proved that they were more than capable of competing at the college ranks with each of the three appearing in at least 19 contests.
Despite the loss of three forwards, Oswego State’s cupboard is far from empty as five of the top seven scorers are returning. Chris Laganiere is coming off his best season as he earned First Team All-SUNYAC honors with a squad-leading seven power-play goals to go along with 46 points (16 goals, 30 assists). Linemate Justin Fox returns following a 47-point campaign (14 goals, 33 assists) with the second-best assist per game average in Division III at 1.22. Other upperclassmen that will be asked to play a vital role include Owen Kelly, one of the Lakers’ primary penalty-killers, Joe Hall, and Andrew Mather.
A strong core of sophomores returns for Oswego State headlined by the line of Jon Whitelaw, Luke Moodie, and Paul Rodrigues. Whitelaw was recognized as the 2009-10 SUNYAC Rookie of the Year, and will look to improve on his statistics (12 goals, 26 assists) from a season ago. Moodie and Rodrigues complimented the Laker offensive attack, scoring a combined 50 points, but will be called upon to pick up some of the slack. Tyler Leimbrock is another player that is capable of providing an additional offensive punch this season as he broke out for several pivotal goals during the post-season. Other returning forwards that will fill critical roles include Matt Singleton, Chris Ayotte, Chris Brown, and Chris Muise.
The largest concern of the season for the coaching staff will be goaltending, as only two goalies are on the roster. Junior Paul Beckwith will likely be the starting netminder for the Lakers as he earned the same spot last year. He started the season strong with a 3-1 record before coming down with an illness that kept him off the ice. Beckwith remained sharp throughout the year as he finished the season with an 8-1-0 record, 1.98 goals against average, and a .928 save percentage. Sophomore Daniel Jones, a vaunted goalie from the Markham Waxers, never saw ice time during the 2009-10 campaign primarily because of the stellar play of Kyle Gunn-Taylor and Beckwith. However, he is ready to prove what he is capable of at the collegiate level.
Compared to the size of last year’s incoming group, this season’s collection is much smaller, but equally talented. Oswego State brought in a pair of transfers, Ian Boots and Dan Bremner, to provide an immediate spark for the Lakers. Bremner arrives from Division I Mercyhurst College, where he played three seasons, recording nine goals and 16 assists for 25 points in 2009-10. Boots brings with him ample big-game experience as he competed for two seasons at Division I Ohio State University. Boots posted 29 points (10 goals, 19 assists) in 50 games a year ago and was named to the 2009 Honorable Mention All-CCHA Rookie Team.
Coach Gosek also brought in three exceptional forwards from the junior ranks in Kyle Badham, Corey Domenico, and David Titanic to vie for playing time. Badham tallied 59 points (14 goals, 45 assists) and scored the game-winning goal to clinch the OJHL Championship in Game 7 for the Oakville Blades last year. Domenico spent four seasons with the Nepean Raiders, and brings physicality to the offensive end along with scoring ability as he scored 36 goals and 40 assists last season. Rounding out the new recruits is David Titanic, who comes from the Markham Waxers. A captain a year ago, he excels at both ends of the rink as evident by his 66 points (27 goals, 39 assists) in 48 games to go along with a +22 rating.
The pieces have been assembled for another championship-caliber season, so be prepared for the 2010-11 Lakers to put their own stamp on the program’s history.