LAKE PLACID, N.Y. – Paul Rodrigues (Jr., Etobicoke, Ont.) scored 7:20 into overtime to move the third-ranked Oswego State men’s ice hockey team (24-3-2) into the championship game with a 2-1 win over second-ranked Amherst College (24-4-1) on Friday night at Herb Brooks Arena. The winner will face St. Norbert, the defending national champions, (20-5-5) in the national championship game Saturday at 7 p.m. after the Green Knights disposed of Norwich, 4-1, in the other semifinal contest.
David Titanic (So., Markham, Ont.) had a one-on-one chance against the Lord Jeffs in the sixth minute of the first period after a quick pass from Hank Van Boxmeer (Sr., Orange, Calif.), but the defenseman closed quickly not allowing Titanic to put much behind the shot.
In the latter portion of the first, Chris Brown (Jr., Centreville, Ont.) and Andrew Mather (Sr., Ottawa, Ont.) had a 2-on-1 breakaway on a Lord Jeff line change. Brown slid the puck from the near side of the rink to Mather, who lifted a shot on Amherst goalie Jonathan LaRose. However, La Rose was there for the save.
The Lord Jeffs had a scoring chance of their own inside the last two minutes during a 3-on-2 rush. Laker goalie Andrew Hare (Jr., Burlington, Ont.) made the initial save, but lost track of the rebound as he fell on his back with the puck loose in front the net. However, Oswego State cleared the puck before Amherst could take another shot, as the period ended with the score tied at 0-0.
The Lord Jeffs applied sustained offensive pressure early in the second period, including Mike Baran’s blast from the point that clanged off the pipe. Amherst went on the first power play of the game at 9:24 in the second period when Oswego State was whistled for tripping.
The Laker penalty-kill unit came up strong, as Hare made three saves. Oswego State created an odd-skater rush when the penalized Laker came out of the box, but LaRose made the stop. The play gave the Lakers a renewed energy as they went on their first power play at 13:14 following a holding call due to the forechecking efforts of Matt Singleton (Jr., Whitby, Ont.), but were unable to get on the board.
At 15:39 in the second, Hare made a sprawling pad on a backhand by Nick Brunnette at the near post to keep the contest tied going into the final 20 minutes.
Oswego State gained an extra attacker when Amherst was called for cross checking at 8:06 after Chris Ayotte (Jr., Cornwall, Ont.) was taken down along the boards. Zack Josepher’s shot from the center of the blue line was deflected inches wide of the far post.
Ian Boots (Sr., Akwesasne, N.Y.), a 2011 Second Team All-American, finally put the Lakers on the board at 10:26 after Tyler Leimbrock (Jr., Bolton, Ont.) checked a Lord Jeff defender off the puck at neutral ice near the Amherst blue line. Boots corralled the loose puck, skated in towards the faceoff circle, and took a wrister that beat La Rose glove side low by the near post.
The goal energized the entire rink, including the Lord Jeff offense, which began to pepper Hare with shots. Amherst called timeout with 37.8 seconds to play leading to a faceoff in the neutral zone. The Lord Jeffs won the draw before Eddie Effinger tied the game after a mad scramble in front of the goal with 22.1 seconds to play. Aaron Deutsch and Mark Colp were credited with assists on the play that sent the game into overtime.
Amherst came out quickly in the extra frame, but Hare registered three saves to keep the game going. Luke Moodie (Jr., Oakville, Ont.) carried the puck into the offensive zone drawing two defenders, leaving Rodrigues, who was trailing the play, open. Moodie hit Rodrigues with the pass to skate in on LaRose. Rodrigues held the puck long enough to force LaRose to commit before eventually sliding the puck under the goalie for his 14th goal of the season.
Hare finished the game with 43 saves to move to 21-3-2 on the season, while LaRose, who was named the national player of the year Thursday night, posted 25 saves with an overall record of 19-2-1.
Oswego State and St. Norbert last met in the 2010 NCAA Semifinals at Herb Brooks Arena when the Green Knights came out on top, 4-3.