The Oswego State men’s ice hockey team has continued to ramp up their offseason preparation ahead of their first preseason matchup against Stevenson University.
Head coach Ed Gosek enters his 18th season as head coach of the Lakers, he looks to build off of his squads 18-7-1 overall record from last season and 12-3-1 conference record. Gosek did lose two of his top players, forward Travis Broughman and goaltender Steven Kozikoski, who will be tough to replace. But Gosek said he feels he had a good recruitment season during the offseason, and brought in guys who fill positions of need.
Thomas Rocco, a Div.I transfer from St. Cloud will bring more speed to the roster, which Gosek said he believes will help get them over the hump this coming season.
“He comes from a school that could be a top ten program every year,” Gosek said. “He wasn’t out of place there, but it was a hard lineup to crack. His speed is one of his best weapons, but with a team that deep, he wanted to go somewhere he could get more playing time.”
Brett Fudger, another new face in the Lakers locker room, has found his transition onto a new team easy, noting the chemistry between his new teammates being a big factor in helping him become more comfortable with the team and the system.
“All the guys are really nice and helpful here,” Fudger said. “It has made it a lot easier to transition from junior to college. We are all on the same page and we are excited to get going.”
Gosek also said his team needs to improve on both sides of the puck, mentioning that the added speed will help a lot in keeping up offensive pressure. He also believes that there are other fundamental parts of his team’s game that need to be cleaned up in order to take the next step forward heading into the season.
“Overall, first and foremost, every year we need to work on team defense,” Gosek said. “The work ethic part, the positioning part. It is important to think defensively in all three zones and create turnovers.”
Last season, the Lakers averaged 3.4 goals per game on 33.2 shots per game. Gosek hopes that his team can bring up their goals per game numbers up to four this season with the new additions filling in spots on each line.
“We have to increase our scoring,” Gosek said. “We were 23rd or 25th in the country as far as scoring and we have to get that up and we will be in every game.”
Gosek also hopes to limit opposing goals, and is looking at Eric Green, Richie Parent and newcomer Cal Schell to pick up where Kozikoski left off.
“All three of them looked solid,” Gosek said. “They all looked very athletic and looked comfortable challenging the puck.”
Kozikoski, who was the Lakers starting goaltender, was towards the top of the nation in saves with 489, save percentage at .930 and 1.90 goals allowed average last season. A goal for Gosek, along with his goalies and his defense is to limit their goals against, preferably around or under 2.0 goals allowed.
The Lakers are heading into this season with three new captains, Ryan Bunka, Troy Robillard and Alex DiCarlo. These three players were a part of the Lakers’ core from last season, and now they look to step into a larger role as leaders on a team with deep playoff aspirations.
As the Lakers head into their game versus Stevenson, Gosek tries to instill the team’s identity into every single player, helping them lock in on their goal.
“Pressure,” Gosek said. “We want to play with urgency, we want to develop good habits and we want to play fast. In order for us to play the way we want to play, we have to be in the best shape we have ever been in.”
The Lakers are set to take on their preseason opener versus Stevenson on Oct. 15.
Image via Abigail Connolly