OSWEGO, N.Y. — The three periods of Oswego’s 5-3 exhibition win over Wilfred Laurier looked like three entirely different games — and not just because Laker coach George Roll used three different goalies.
With the contest serving as the only tune-up before the Lakers’ season opener, a SUNYAC matchup against defending national champion Plattsburgh, Roll gave each of his netminders a chance to win the starting job for the Nov. 2 tilt.
Oswego junior Joe Lofberg faced only five shots against a defensive-minded first-period Golden Hawks squad. Sophomore Tyson Gajda stopped all nine shots he saw in a penalty-marred and chippy second. Game-winner Sebastian Matte gave up two goals on ten shots in a wide-open third, but made some big saves for the Lakers.
After seeing all three netminders play, Roll won’t say who will get the start for his team against the Cardinals, but smiled as he commented, “It’s a tough position for a coach to be in when you’ve got three good ones in goal.”
Oswego dominated territorially, pelting Wilfred Laurier netminder Brandon Sacco with 48 shots, double that of the Golden Hawks.
“Overall we played a solid game,” said Roll. “We did a pretty good job in our own zone defensively, and did a good job creating scoring chances.”
The sixth-year coach added, “We had a lot of chances, but their goaltender played very well.”
Scoring the game-winning goal for Oswego was last year’s star rookie Mike Lukajic. The big forward tried to stuff a wraparound and two rebounds past the stacked pads of Sacco before lifting the puck over the outstretched goalie at 7:40 of the third period.
The Lakers added an insurance goal with 57 seconds left in the contest, when Sacco, out of his net to play the puck, mishandled it onto the stick of Rob Smith, who buried it in a wide-open net.
Despite being outshot 14-5, the Golden Hawks had the only tally of the first period, scoring on the power play at 11:00. Wilfred Laurier’s Tim Parsons committed Joe Lofberg to the right post with a faked wrister before switching to his backhand. The right winger tapped the puck between the Oswego goalie’s spread legs as Lofberg tried to recover and put a skate against the left post.
Oswego scored twice in the second period. After a flurry of opportunities on the man advantage stymied by Sacco in the first 5:40 of the period, Oswego defenseman Jonathan Hoose tied the game at 1 with an even-strength goal. Pinching in toward the left side of the crease, Hoose one-timed a pass from Joe Carrabs just 3 seconds after Oswego’s third power play of the period had expired.
Oswego took its first lead with its only power play goal at 13:26 of the the second. Matt Vashaw, gaining the puck from a face off to the right of Sacco, fed Nate Elliot at the point. Elliot’s rising slap shot was unseen by the goalie, who did not react until the resounding thwack of the puck lodging itself in the top of the net visibly startled him.
In the latter part of that penalty-filled period, Wilfred Laurier withstood a five minute major called on Brian Kazarian, who was also ejected for his intent-to-injure two-handed slash.
Skating four-on-four, Oswego opened a 3-1 lead at 2:28 of the third on Brady Crooks’ one-timer, his first goal as a Laker. Sacco gave up a big rebound in the high slot to John Hirliman who fed Crooks with a diagonal pass at the bottom of the left faceoff circle.
The Golden Hawks bounced back with two quick goals to tie the game at 3. With each side still down one skater, Adam Van Dam took advantage of an Oswego giveaway with a slapper from the high slot at 3:21. Back to five-on-five, Wilfred Laurier defenseman Bill Duncan slid a low wrister through a screen behind Matte at 4:32, after another Laker miscue.
“We made a few freshman mistakes, giving it up in our own zone, and giving up two goals. Sebastian looked a little nervous — it was his first game [after transferring from Salem State] — and he can play better than that,” said Roll, who has nine rookies on his roster.
While the Lakers have two weeks of practice before their NCAA opener, the Golden Hawks visit 2001 runner-up RIT on Saturday in another exhibition.