PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — For the third consecutive year, the SUNYAC finals consist of Oswego and Plattsburgh. For the first time in those three years, the home team won the first game as Plattsburgh defeated the Lakers, 4-3, in overtime.
Paul Kelly, with a drive from the left faceoff circle, won the game for Plattsburgh at 3:39 of the extra period.
Oswego struck early in the first period, catching Plattsburgh on a poor line change. Ryan Woodward scored at 4:19 for his 11th goal of the season. Oswego had 1-0 leads over Plattsburgh in all three of the teams’ games this year.
That lead held up till late in the period when Plattsburgh converted on a two-man advantage, with Chad Kemp scoring at 16:08. Nearly three minutes later, Joe Carpinone gave the Cardinals a 2-1 lead, with 56 seconds left in the period.
Oswego came storming back in the second, tallying two power-play goals to retake the lead. The Lakers went two for four on the power play, which continues to do well in the playoffs.
On the first, at 1:02, two Plattsburgh defenders went to the back of their own net. When they didn’t gather the puck, it allowed Oswego free in front. Woodward converted his second to tie it up.
A few minutes later, Oswego found itself back on the power play. Rob Smith gave the Lakers the lead at 5:38.
Plattsburgh thought it had the game tied up around the midway point of the second stanza, but the goal was waved off due to a hand pass.
But the Cardinals did tie the game at 12:45 of the third. Doug Carr’s shot was blocked by a defender, but it came right back to him. He fired again, this time with a screen, and Tyson Gajda did not see the puck as it sailed past, Carr’s third goal of the season.
The Cardinals applied pressure, but would not score — at least not in regulation.
Oswego was outshot in the third period, 12-4, and overall, 37-24. Gajda kept his team in the game with 33 saves. Craig Neilson, who appeared shaky through the first two periods, got the win with 21 saves.
Game 2 takes place Saturday night at 7 p.m. Plattsburgh needs only a tie for the championship. Oswego must win to force Game 3.