OSWEGO, N.Y. — Plattsburgh did it again.
For the second year in a row, the Cardinals skated into hostile Romney Fieldhouse and upset the first place Oswego Lakers two games to none in the SUNYAC semifinals. They finished the task with a 5-2 victory that saw the dreaded bagel throwing tradition come back to bite Oswego.
Down 3-1 in the third period, Oswego desperately needed to get back into the game. At the 8:38 mark, they seemingly did just that. In a quick break from center ice, they appeared to catch Plattsburgh slightly off guard. Matt Whitehead went in and shot it at Craig Neilson’s five hole. Neilson got a piece of it, but not quite enough, and it squeezed through.
In the ensuing celebration, an Oswego fan threw a leftover bagel on the ice. The tradition of Oswego fans throwing bagels on the ice after their first goal against Plattsburgh brought out the obligatory warning that if anything else is thrown on the ice, it will result in a bench minor for delay of game.
It did and it did.
“You at least get it within one and you get things going,” said an emotional Oswego coach Ed Gosek. “I’m disappointed in our fans for throwing stuff, but at the same time it’s one bagel. It doesn’t delay the game. It doesn’t affect what’s going on. But then Andy Petrus decides he’s got to make an issue of it. Let him go tell our seniors why he called a penalty. If there’s 100 bagels, that’s one thing. But when it’s one, it doesn’t affect anything. Our player picked it up and came to the bench with it, but he has to make an issue out of it. I’m very disappointed in his judgment of it.”
“I know how Eddie feels because it happened to us, too,” Plattsburgh coach Bob Emery said. “But, it happened to him in a more important game — a playoff game.”
With that penalty call, the momentum was completely lost. And worse, Plattsburgh scored on the power play, just five seconds before it was over.
“I think if we could have killed it off, we would have been all right,” Gosek said. “It was down to the end of it, and the kid walks out of the corner and snipes it over Ryan’s shoulder. It was a hell of a shot.”
Mike Baccaro was the player who skated it out from the corner and shot it over Ryan Scott’s shoulder on the near side. Plattsburgh had their two-goal lead back, and Oswego’s balloon was deflated.
Oswego started the game ready to play and took the initial lead. The goal was the culmination of a wild sequence of events.
Plattsburgh’s C.J. Tozzo came out of the penalty box and was fed a perfect pass to send him in alone on Scott. Tozzo had plenty of time, and made a number of moves on Scott, but Scott held his ground and stopped the breakaway. Oswego immediately made a rush back the other way, but their shot was turned away by Craig Neilson.
Plattsburgh then tried to return with a quick rush of their own, but they lost the puck, setting up an Oswego two-on-one down low. Garren Reisweber made a quick pass from right to left across the crease to Derrell Levy who simply one-timed it past Neilson.
“I give Oswego a lot of credit,” Emery said. “They came out fired up. They forechecked hard early on.”
Gosek also liked the way his team came out, but explains how they lost that momentum: “Killing penalty after penalty. The two five-on-three goals that we gave them. That’s really the difference in the game.”
The first two-man advantage goal that Plattsburgh got came at the 12:37 mark of the first period. After some quick passing, Kevin Galan shot it from the high point of the right face off circle. Scott couldn’t react to all the puck movement in time, and the shot went between the goalie’s outstretched leg and the near post.
The next five-on-three goal came early in the second period. It was Galan again, this time with a blast from the left face off circle that simply blew past Scott.
“Once we got the lead, we played really smart,” Emery said. “We got the puck in deep. We held them to only four shots in the second period. That was key.”
Gosek agreed: “They played very well with the lead.”
The Cardinals made it 3-1 midway through the game on a turnover by the Oswego defense. Deryk Whitehead didn’t waste the opportunity, scoring unassisted.
Then came the Oswego comeback attempt and the fateful tossed bagel followed eventually by Ben Kemp’s empty net goal.
Plattsburgh did an excellent job stopping the nation’s top power play, holding Oswego to just one power play goal in 12 attempts for the series as they went zero for five in this game (while Plattsburgh went three for eight).
“We practice our penalty kill all the time,” Emery said. “Always try to stay in the line of fire. Obviously, your goalie is the best penalty kill. I thought Neilson did a good job.”
Neilson ended up with 18 saves for the win.
After the game, something set Oswego’s Ryan Koresky off during the hand shake. It took a referee and a fellow Laker to very aggressively get Koresky off the ice. He was charged with two majors (abuse of officials and excessive roughness) and two game disqualifications. Being a junior, this means he will serve the subsequent suspensions at the start of next year.
Oswego’s players typically salute their fans, win or lose, after a game. This time as the players left the ice, they never acknowledged their fans.
Oswego may have ended their season at 18-7-2. They will have to wait and see whether they will get a wild card bid to the NCAA.
Meanwhile, Plattsburgh (18-10-1) heads to Geneseo for yet another SUNYAC final as they attempt to win their 18th conference championship.