The Oswego State men’s hockey team returns to the ice this week after time away from the Deborah F. Stanley Arena. Oswego State was able to find the win column back on Jan. 7 when the Lakers defeated Plattsburgh State 2-1 to win the Comfort Inn Complex Winter Classic tournament. The Lakers will battle once again versus the two teams from North Country.
With three goals in the first period, Oswego State was able to hold on in the second and third periods. For head coach Ed Gosek and the coaching staff, this was something the group was not used to seeing from their squad.
“We really did not care for the way we played in the third period,” Gosek said. “We did not need to be high risk, but we did not need to sit back as much as we did. We are not a trapping team, and it seems like as the game went on, we played back on our heels and more defensive.”
The win moves the Lakers ahead to 11-5-1 overall this season and ranked sixth nationally based on the USCHO poll. Those games were the last non-conference games of the season as the group will finish their campaign with SUNYAC games with one more game against each conference team.
Oswego State has seen players rotating in and out of the game day lineup a lot this year. The week off allowed the Lakers to get some time away from the rink and get healthy to return the lineup.
“The days off that they had and guys that were banged up or bruised got some rest,” Gosek said. “[The coaches] did not know how it was going to go this week with the week off, but [the players] have been really good with their effort and attitude. They have some jump in their step and we got some guys healed up from injuries. Time will tell but I think this will pay dividends down the stretch run here.”
As the team returns their focus to Plattsburgh State, the Cardinals are heading into the matchup with two wins outscoring opponents 5 to 2. These two non-conference wins push Plattsburgh State to 11-4-2 overall and a .706 win percentage.
So far this season, Bennett Stockdale has continued to be an offensive threat as the forward has nine goals and eight assists. Stockdale is the only player on the Cardinals roster that has a point per game.
In net, Eli Schiller has taken over the duties in between the pipes for Plattsburgh State. The freshman netminder played against Oswego State on Jan. 7 and made 26 saves while allowing two goals. Schiller heads into the contest with the best goals against average and save percentage between all of goaltenders in the SUNYAC conference.
Plattsburgh State will continue their Stress Ball Night tradition on Jan. 20 as the proceeds benefit the SUNY Plattsburgh Food Shelf. 1,000 red stress balls will be sold for one dollar each and will be thrown onto the ice after the first Cardinals goal against the Lakers.
On Jan. 21, Oswego State will head back closer to Oswego to take on SUNY Potsdam. The last time these two teams played, the Lakers came back to tie the Bears in the third period during the Plattsburgh State tournament.
The 4-12-1 SUNY Potsdam team also took some time away from the ice rink after their 4-2 loss on Jan. 11 against SUNY Canton. Connor Cruickshank and Jeremy Quesnel were able to find the back of the net in the loss for the Bears.
As the Lakers head back to SUNYAC play, the team is still controlling their destiny as the number one team in the standings. Oswego State is 7-1-0 when facing conference opponents and have three more points than SUNY Geneseo and Plattsburgh State in second place. The Lakers only have four weeks before the start of conference playoffs.
“We want to try and play our best hockey at the end of the year,” Gosek said. “The mental part of the next four weeks to head into the playoffs to try and feel good about how we are playing. There is no guarantee but you certainly do not want to limp in or questioning yourself…every team is fighting for a playoff spot and everyone is going to bring their A+ game.”
Both games will be 7 p.m. puck drops as Oswego State heads back up to North Country as the team enters the final stretch of the regular season.
Photo Provided By Jim Feeney