OSWEGO, N.Y. — There is no need to worry about keeping sharp objects away from Oswego fans; the Lakers have won a game.
The defending champions got off to a shocking 0-2-1 start, but rebounded in convincing fashion with a 5-1 victory over visiting Potsdam, outshooting the Bears 44-23.
“It’s almost like, thank God that’s over with,” Oswego coach Ed Gosek said of the postgame mood in the locker room. “It’s a good, positive atmosphere.”
The Lakers got off to a relatively slow start, but eventually started controlling the puck in Potsdam’s zone. However, like their first three games, no matter how well they moved the puck around and shot on
the net, no breaks were forthcoming.
“I thought it was a good effort by our guys,” Potsdam coach Aaron Saul said. “I thought we played pretty good, especially in the first period.”
Finally, for the first time this season, Oswego got the initial goal. Brendan McLaughlin was turned away when he tried stuffing it through Rick Miller’s left side, so, McLaughlin skated the puck around the net while Miller strangely never covered the other side for a possible wraparound, which is exactly what happened to give the Lakers a 1-0 first period lead.
“I was glad we got off to a better start,” Gosek said. “We were able to score first for the first time this year. It took a little pressure off. Give ourselves a little confidence and build on it.”
Oswego didn’t waste any time in the second period, taking control of the game 41 seconds in. The Lakers scored a goal very much in their style of play. McLaughlin, stationed down low on the right side, passed to Ryan Ellis in the middle, who quickly passed it to Rich Zalewski on the left side. The combination of quick passing and Zalewski sneaking down from his defensive position left him wide open with the goalie out of position and he easily shot it into the open net.
“A couple of letdowns in the second period,” Saul said. “When you don’t pick up guys on our backchecks, they have a quick 3-on-2 and are coming back. That’s why they are a good team; when they have the
opportunities to score, they do.”
The Lakers expanded their lead to 3-0 on an extremely fast rush that ended with Matt Whitehead tipping the puck in from close range.
Potsdam called time out to try and stem the tide, but it didn’t help.
Oswego made it 4-0 when C.J. Thompson skated the puck out from the corner and sent a backhander over the goaltender’s leg.
The Lakers fifth goal was Hall’s first collegiate tally, as he fired the puck in from the left point. The powerplay goal was the only one for Oswego in seven attempts.
“It’s something we worked on, especially after Plattsburgh and Adrian,” Saul said of his penalty kill. “We’re such a young team, the guys are still learning. I thought the guys did a pretty good job today with the five talented guys they put out there who can score at will.”
Shortly afterwards, Potsdam spoiled Ryan Scott’s bid for a seventh shutout, an Oswego record. The goal was scored by Lance Smith, who squeezed a shot between the near side and Scott’s pads. Potsdam finally scored at even strength after two lengthy 5-on-3s went for naught.
“I blame myself as a coach,” Saul said of the lack of powerplay goals. “Last week, we worked so hard in practice on the little things, 5-on-5 play, because I wasn’t happy with our play last weekend, so we
shied away from the powerplay stuff. We need to get better at that, no question. As a coaching staff, we’re going to try to work on that every day and get better.”
“We worked better on coming back into our own zone,” Gosek summarized. “Our transition was quicker attacking the offensive zone because we were supporting our ‘D.’ I thought we were pretty unselfish tonight; there was a lot of positives.
“It was a tough game emotionally, especially after last night with the tough game here with Plattsburgh and going 0-3 at the start of the season.”
Potsdam (2-3, 1-2) wraps up a seven game road trip with games at Fredonia and Buffalo State next weekend, while Oswego (1-2-1, 1-1) also hits the road, traveling to Geneseo and Brockport as they look to continue to return to national championship form. They do have a precedent which could be good news; the last time Oswego failed to win their first three games was in 2002-3, and they rebounded to make the national championship final. Oswego fans are hoping history repeats.