Top-Ranked Lakers Head To Conference Championship

OSWEGO, N.Y. – The top-ranked Oswego State men’s ice hockey team made sure that last year’s State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) semifinal loss did not repeat itself, as the Lakers scored six straight goals in the first and second periods en route to an 8-3 win over Fredonia (12-11-3) on Saturday. Oswego State (22-2-2) will host Plattsburgh on March 3 at 7 p.m. for the conference title.

Ian Boots (Sr., Akwesasne, N.Y.) and Paul Rodrigues (Jr., Etobicoke, Ont.) recorded two goals apiece, while junior defenseman Zack Josepher (Wantagh, N.Y.) scored a goal and added two assists. Andrew Hare (Jr., Burlington, Ont.) finished the game with 17 saves.

The Blue Devils’ Bryan Ross put the visitors ahead early when he created a breakaway opportunity following a turnover at the Laker blue line. He was tripped on his way to the goal, and was awarded a penalty shot that got past Hare (Jr., Burlington, Ont.) at 7:09 in the first period.

Late in the frame Fredonia was whistled for a tripping penalty at 16:43, and Oswego State made it pay. Jon Whitelaw (Jr., Huntsville, Ontario) blasted a one-timer along the ice from the far faceoff circle into the back of the net after pinpoint passing from Chris Ayotte (Jr., Cornwall, Ont.) and Zack Josepher (Jr., Wantagh, N.Y.) to even the score.

On the next shift, the Lakers took a 2-1 lead after Ayotte found Josepher (Jr., Wantagh, N.Y.), who lit the lamp at 18:13. It was nearly a 3-1 game heading into intermission, but Blue Devil goalie Mark Friesen made a sliding save across the goal line to deny Rodrigues.

However, just over a minute into the second period, Rodrigues got his revenge when his slap shot from the left faceoff circle found its way into the back of the net after a series of passes from Josepher and Whitelaw, while the Lakers were on the power play.

The score became 4-1 when Jesse McConney (Jr., Barrie, Ont.) hit Chris Brown (Jr., Centreville, Ont.), who was streaking up the right side of the rink in transition. Brown skated in on Friesen, shooting the puck low stick-side at 3:15, prompting Fredonia to call timeout to slow down Oswego State’s momentum.

At 5:06 in the second period, Oswego State gained a two-skater advantage for nearly two minutes after boarding and roughing penalties were called against the Blue Devils. The Lakers capitalized on the opportunity 41 seconds later when Ian Boots (Sr., Akwesasne, N.Y.) unleashed a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle for his ninth goal of the season. McConney earned his second assist of the game on the play.

Rodrigues netted his second goal of the game at 15:01 when he carried the puck up the near side and behind the net, sliding a backhand into the net before Friesen could seal the gap along the far post. Luke Moodie (Jr., Oakville, Ont.) earned his 18th assist of the season, as Oswego State went ahead 6-1.

A Laker slashing penalty at the end of the frame gave Fredonia its second power play of the game, which it used to score its second goal at 19:17 when Brett Mueller lifted his shot into the upper left-hand corner of the goal to make the score 6-2 heading into the final 20 minutes.

The Blue Devils scored their second power-play goal of the game at 13:03 in the third period following an Oswego State slashing penalty when Stephen Castriota posted his tenth marker of the season. However, the Lakers stopped the scoring string two minutes later when puck movement from Chris Muise (Jr., Oakville, Ont.) and Tyler Leimbrock (Jr., Bolton, Ont.) pulled Friesen out of position. Leimbrock fed Boots for the easy tap-in goal to put Oswego State back on top by four goals at 7-3.

Hank Van Boxmeer (Sr., Orange, Calif.) got in on the scoring at 16:48 after being on the receiving end of passes from Muise and Leimbrock for the Lakers’ fourth power-play goal of the contest. Following the score, Fredonia brought in goalie Jeff Holloway as Friesen came out of the game with 42 saves.

Both squads excelled with extra attackers, as Oswego State went 4-for-7 and Fredonia went 2-for-5.

Ticket information for the SUNYAC Championship game will be released on Sunday, February 26 at