GENESEO, N.Y. — Geneseo freshman Trent Cassan let rip a slapshot from the left point on the power play that flew by a screened Ryan Scott at the 10:19 mark of the third period giving Geneseo a 2-1 lead and sending the packed, standing room only crowd at the Ira S. Wilson Ice Arena into a raucous cheer. The Ice Knights held on, adding an empty netter at the end, to defeat Oswego, 3-1, in a game that most likely will determine first place in the SUNYAC.
Both coached marveled at the game they just witnessed. “You don’t get that atmosphere at some D1 games anymore,” Geneseo coach Brian Hills said. “The place was packed. I looked across and it was fun to see people crammed in, sitting in the aisles. The atmosphere has gotten pretty darn good in this rink.”
“It was end to end,” Oswego coach Ed Gosek said. “They had a lot of good scoring opportunities, and we did also. They had the crowd and everything going for them. It was a great game.”
The first period started out with Oswego getting the better end of play. “Guys were afraid to make plays and were kind of forcing things,” Hills said. “I told them to settle down, lighten up.”
Geneseo settled down enough to get the first goal of the game at the 12:37 mark. A goal that didn’t sit well with Oswego. While skating four aside, Matt English gained control of the puck on an Oswego turnover. He let fly a rising shot that either smacked the crossbar and ricocheted back out or went just underneath the crossbar smacking the support pipe behind the crossbar and flew back out.
It happened so fast, opinion was split. The ref immediately ruled a goal. After conferring with the assistant referees, they let the goal stand. After an emotional protest by the Oswego bench, they still let the goal stand. Geneseo took that 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
It didn’t take long for Oswego to tie it up in the second. At the 5:37 mark, Jean-Simon Richard scored on the power play, just as one of two penalties expired. The returning Geneseo player was not in play yet, so it allowed Oswego to continue to take advantage of a five-on-three.
This allowed Richard to stand at the side of the net untouched. Tony DiNunzio fed him with a cross-crease pass, and Richard easily banged it home.
Despite leaving Richard unmarked, Geneseo was doing a much better job of tying up the man in front compared to earlier in the season.
“After the Brockport game, we started doing some drills to get our defensemen to be more aggressive and try to lift sticks and push players away,” Hills said.
This practice along with a stronger Geneseo team as time went on started to tip the balance of scales to the Ice Knights favor. “As the game went along, we got more confidence handling the puck,” Hills said. “In the third period, I felt like we really started to play like Geneseo Ice Knights.”
“They capitalized on theirs [scoring opportunities], and we didn’t at the end especially when we had some good point blank shots,” Gosek said. “Walker made some very good saves, kept them in it when he had to. I thought they did a better job in the third.”
Even though Geneseo started controlling play in the third period, it took till halfway through before Cassan would get his game winning goal with Tony DuFour sitting out for a high sticking call.
Brett Walker made sure Oswego wouldn’t send the game to overtime, especially when the Lakers put an extra attacker on. A flurry of activity in front of the net resulted in Walker smothering the puck, forcing a faceoff. From that faceoff, Brett Bestwick eventually gained control of the puck, skated out of the zone, and as soon as he crossed the red line, took aim at the empty net, and hit a bulls eye.
Walker ended up with 24 saves for the win while Scott stopped 20 shots.
Even though Geneseo is only two points ahead of both Oswego and Fredonia, the Ice Knights only need one more point in the final weekend of play to clinch first place because they own the tie-breaker against both teams. Those games will be at Plattsburgh and Potsdam. The Ice Knights are now 10-2 in SUNYAC and 15-5-2 overall.
With Fredonia tying Potsdam, Oswego is tied with the Blue Devils for second place and the last bye position. They face each other in Oswego on Friday night. The Lakers are 9-3 in league play and 16-4-3 overall.