OSWEGO, N.Y. – The No. 3/5 Oswego State men’s ice hockey team (23-4-0) gave head coach Ed Gosek the best birthday present possible when the Lakers defeated No. 7/9 Plattsburgh (19-7-1), 4-0, for the program’s ninth State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) Championship Saturday night at the Campus Center Ice Arena.
With the victory, Oswego State not only avenged a pair of regular-season losses to the Cardinals, but punched its ticket to the program’s fourth straight NCAA Division III Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament.
Laker senior goalie Andrew Hare (Burlington, Ontario) recorded 30 saves to earn his 11th shutout this season and SUNYAC Tournament Most Valuable Player honors. Other members of the all-tournament team included Plattsburgh’s Mike Grace and Jared Docking and Oswego State’s Matt Singleton (Sr., Whitby, Ontario), Chris Muise (Sr., Oakville, Ontario) and Bobby Gertsakis (So., Pickering, Ontario).
Tyler Leimbrock (Sr., Bolton, Ontario) put the Lakers on the board first at 15:12 courtesy of a 3-on-2 rush created along with David Titanic (Jr., Markham, Ontario) and Matt Singleton (Sr., Whitby, Ontario). Singleton carried the puck up the far boards before passing off to Titanic in the middle of the ice just as Oswego State crossed the blue line. He then passed to Leimbrock skating hard up the near side. Leimbrock’s shot then found the back of the net as he lifted it over Plattsburgh goalie Mathieu Cadieux’s glove-side shoulder.
With the Lakers leading 1-0 to open the second period, Plattsburgh started first 33 seconds of the frame with an extra skater as Oswego State was whistled for a penalty at the end of the first. It would be the first of three Cardinal power plays in the period, but the Laker penalty-kill unit spearheaded by Hare kept the visitors off the score. In the 11th minute of the stanza, Hare made a sprawling glove save as the puck slid towards the goal line and it was knocked out of the crease by a defenseman. Hare came up big again minutes later when he stopped what would have been a short-handed goal by sliding across the crease to make a right pad save.
As Plattsburgh appeared to be gaining momentum, Oswego State capitalized on a delayed Cardinal too-many men penalty when Luke Moodie (Sr., Oakville, Ontario) scored at 18:29, channeling memories from the Lakers’ 2007 NCAA Tournament win over Norwich. Moodie’s shot from the left face-off circle was stopped, but the rebound slid through the crease and bounced off a Plattsburgh player into the open net. Chris Brown (Sr., Oakville, Ontario) and Jon Whitelaw (Sr., Huntsville, Ontario) earned assists on the broken play that made the score, 2-0, heading into the final period.
The Lakers padded their lead at 7:54 due to a hustle play from Muise and Brown. Muise beat a Plattsburgh defenseman to the puck deep in the Oswego State offensive end, feeding it to Brown along the end boards. He then found Moodie open near the slot and made no mistake on his 21st goal of the season to break the game wide open.
Two minutes later, the Cardinals went on their sixth power play of the contest, prompting Plattsburgh to call timeout and pull Cadieux, who finished with 29 saves, for a two-skater advantage. The visiting team spent the next three minutes without a goalie, but was unable to cut into the Laker lead while Whitelaw scored an empty-net goal at 13:59. Paul Rodrigues (Sr., Etobicoke, Ontario) and Jesse McConney (Sr., Barrie, Ontario) were credited with assists on the marker.
The sold-out crowd counted down the final seconds before the Oswego State bench emptied in celebration.
Both penalty-kill units shut out the opposing squads’ power plays, as Plattsburgh went 0-for-7 and Oswego State went 0-for-6 and with the extra attacker.
The NCAA Division III Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament bracket is slated to be released during a selection show at 10 p.m. EST at NCAA.com. Information will be posted on the Oswego State Athletics website as soon as it becomes available.