BROCKPORT, N.Y. — It wasn’t easy. Oswego had to come from behind twice in order to fend off a pesky, tough Brockport team, needing three unanswered goals late in the second period to defeat the Golden Eagles, 5-4. The win gives the Lakers a guaranteed bye in the play-in round and home ice in the semifinals of the SUNYAC playoffs, clinching at least second place.
“[Brockport] was very effective in the first period with their forecheck,” Oswego coach Ed Gosek said. “Our guys panicked with the puck and that is uncharacteristic of our team. In the first ten minutes of the second period, our ‘D’ came back harder, our forwards came back to support them. We let them come, our ‘D’ got it, we looked for our first forward back up the middle. I thought we were pretty effective in the second. That was the difference between the first and the second.”
“I thought we definitely did a good job getting pucks in,” Brockport coach Brian Dickinson said. “We concentrated on trying to outwork their defensemen. We had success against them in the past in our rink. It’s a little bit smaller than what they are used to playing on. We can get on them a little bit quicker.”
With Brockport leading 3-2, Oswego tied the game at 15:56 of the second period during a four-on-four. Strong pressure kept the puck in the zone where Brendan McLaughlin picked it up in-close on the left side. He beat Todd Sheridan five-hole.
Then came the backbreaker for Brockport. Oswego scored twice in the final 35 seconds of the period, 14 seconds apart. First Mike Novak from the left point took a shot that deflected on its way in, causing it arc over Sheridan’s glove deflecting off the underside of the crossbar and into the net.
Peter Magagna then scored on the ensuing rush, and suddenly that 3-2 Brockport lead was a 5-3 Oswego lead.
“They are so skilled,” Dickinson said. “Even when we make the right play, they get a stick on the puck 90 percent of the time. I thought they had a really good counterattack in the last five to six minutes of the second period.”
The teams got to that point with a very strong first period by Brockport despite Oswego scoring first. That first goal was due to Sheridan losing sight of the puck, which dropped behind him after he made a save. Mark Lozzi finally saw the loose puck and knocked it in at 3:44.
Three minutes later, Sean O’Malley tied it up. Tim Potter went behind the net but got tied up with his own defender. O’Malley took advantage of the Lakers’ miscue and put in a wraparound into the unguarded net.
At 14:12, O’Malley scored his second goal from the far left side. His shot snuck through the five-hole as Potter had no idea it got past.
Oswego opened the second period at 4:25 with the tying goal by Neil Musselwhite on an NHL-quality shot. Musselwhite fired a laser of a slap shot from the left point that blew by Sheridan’s glove into the far upper corner.
Lucas Schott provided Brockport with their second lead of the game thanks to a quick transition. His slap shot from in-close beat Potter through the five-hole once again.
“The first one, just a miscommunication with our ‘D,’” Gosek said. “The second one, I can’t really fault him. To be honest, the third one, five-hole, those are killers, but there were no excuses on the bench. There were no hanging heads. We were going to get it done.”
That attitude allowed Oswego to score the next three goals and take the two-goal lead into the third period, a period where they had to hold off a never-say-die Brockport team. The Golden Eagles got one of them back at 6:19 on a power play when a centering pass was blocked by an Oswego defender’s leg, but it bounced back to an open Brockport player. Ray Tremblay slammed it home.
Brockport had many chances to pull out this game, including missing an open net that would have made it 3-1, not being able to score on a two-man advantage for 1:41, and of course letting up those two quick goals at the end of the second period.
“It’s really frustrating,” Dickinson said. “We have a tendency at times to make the wrong decision or think we have more time. We always concentrate when we play teams like this not to let them score goals in bunches, and unfortunately for us tonight, they were able to get a couple there, bing bing, at the end of the second period and that ended up being the difference in the hockey game.”
Brockport (12-7-3, 6-5-2) is still in third place, one point ahead of Geneseo. The Golden Eagles stay home to play Cortland who is two points behind.
“Our guys wanted to clinch second place,” Gosek said. “I give them credit for accomplishing that. Maybe we get a little luck in someone upsetting Platty, and we take care of business tomorrow night.”
Oswego’s (16-5-1, 10-2-1) business tomorrow night is traveling to Geneseo.