OSWEGO, N.Y. – Chris Muise’s two second-period goals along with 33 saves from Andrew Hare propelled the No. 3/6 Oswego State men’s ice hockey team (22-4-0) past Buffalo State (13-12-2), 5-2, in a SUNYAC Semifinal Saturday night at the Campus Center Ice Arena. Muise netted two goals in a two-minute span late in the second period to give the Lakers a 4-1 lead heading into the final frame.
Oswego State hosts Plattsburgh in the SUNYAC Championship game for the third time in four years on Saturday, March 2 at 7 p.m. The winner earns an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament.
The game opened at a furious pace eventually resulting in both teams trading penalties during a two-minute span. During a 4-on-4 stretch, a Laker giveaway in its’ defensive zone landed on the tape of Matt Bessing’s stick in the middle of the rink. Bessing hit Mike Zannella with a pass below the left faceoff circle where he wristed a shot just inside the left post before Oswego State goalie Andrew Hare (Sr., Burlington, Ontario) closed the gap at 10:05.
It did not take long for the Lakers to even the score, though, as they capitalized on a Buffalo State penalty. Jon Whitelaw (Sr., Huntsville, Ontario) laced a pass from the left faceoff dot down to Paul Rodrigues (Sr., Etobicoke, Ontario) along the end boards before sending a pass to Luke Moodie (Sr., Oakville, Ontario) in the slot for his team-best 20th goal of the season at 15:28.
Less than a minute elapsed before Oswego State took the lead. Tyler Leimbrock (Sr., Bolton, Ontario) sent the puck through the neutral zone to Matt Singleton (Sr., Whitby, Ontario), as the Lakers transitioned out of their defensive zone. Singleton held the puck long enough to force the Bengal defenseman to commit and gave David Titanic (Jr., Markham, Ontario) a chance to join the play. Singleton sent a behind-the-back pass on to Titanic’s stick, as he made no mistake with his shot along the ice inside the right post at the 16:21 mark.
A wild second period ensued when twelve minutes into the frame Hare came up with big glove save on a shot from Shane Avery during a breakaway that would have resulted in a short-handed Bengal goal tying the score.
Minutes later, Chris Muise (Sr., Oakville, Ontario) caused a Buffalo State turnover in its defensive end while the teams were skating 4-on-4. He skated in alone on Buffalo State goalie Kevin Carr, and scored after some smooth stickhandling skills at the 16:32 mark.
During the same matching minors, Buffalo State had a goal waved off by the referee when a Bengal forward was called for goaltender interference at 17:46. On the ensuing power play with Oswego State skating 4-on-3, Muise took his time with the puck near the goal line at the left post forcing Carr to go down to the ice before lifting the shot over Carr’s right shoulder at 18:42. Chris Brown (Sr., Centreville, Ontario) and Jesse McConney (Sr., Barrie, Ontario) earned assists on the play that sent the Lakers into the locker room leading 4-1.
Buffalo State started the third period with increased tenacity leading to an Oswego State tripping penalty. The Bengals won the subsequent faceoff and Todd Graham immediately cashed in on the opportunity after receiving a pass from Bessing and Brett Hope 1:18 into the frame.
Buffalo State continued to pressure the Laker defense, but Hare did not crack as the Bengals called timeout with 1:26 on the clock. With Carr pulled, Oswego State won the ensuing faceoff in front of the Buffalo State bench as Matt Singleton corralled the loose puck at center ice before passing to Leimbrock. His shot was blocked by a defenseman, but Titanic chased down the puck and fired it into the empty net to seal the victory.
The Lakers wrapped up the game 2-for-7 on the power play, while the Bengals were 1-for-6 with the extra attacker.
In a duel between a pair of All-SUNYAC goalies, Andrew Hare posted 33 saves for his 18th win of the season compared to Kevin Carr, who finished with 36 saves.