This Week in the SUNYAC

A Grand Farewell

What better way for Oswego to say goodbye to the Romney Field House than with an emotional roller coaster shootout 7-6 victory over archrival Plattsburgh and then blowing out Potsdam, 9-3, to wrap up the sold out weekend.

However, it wasn’t easy.

Despite the bravado Oswego coach Ed Gosek put on during the week, he admitted after it was all over that the events leading up to the historic games did have an effect on the team.

“We talked about it all week, about not getting wound up in the emotion and the hype,” he said. “That was all false talk. We definitely were wound up, tight, afraid of making mistakes. It wasn’t easy. They found a way to get motivated and get it done.”

Especially when they fell behind to Plattsburgh, 3-0, on goals by Kevin Galan, Nick Rolls and Riley Hill (the latter two coming 31 seconds apart).

The Lakers called timeout after the third goal, and from that point, they outscored Plattsburgh 7-2 until the Cardinals put in a final goal.

Less than a minute later, Rick Varone put Oswego on the board. Ryan Ellis scored 35 seconds into the second period. Hill got his second of the night in an attempt to stem the tide from turning. It didn’t work.

Oswego again scored back-to-back goals by Kyle McCutcheon and Jocelyn Dubord. Rolls scored his second of the night to give Plattsburgh the lead again, but that was soon followed by a C.J. Thompson goal to tie it up heading into the third.

The Lakers took a two-goal lead midway through the third with tallies by Ryan Woodward and Ryan Koresky. Seven different Oswego players scored. Deryk Whitehead got one back, but Plattsburgh was unable to get the equalizer despite pulling their goaltender.

The power play worked well for both teams as Plattsburgh went 4 for 11 and Oswego went 5 for 13.

The next night, after Koresky gave the Lakers the early lead and Ryan McCarthy tied it for Potsdam, the key goal in the game was scored. Ellis gave Oswego the lead back on the power play 21 seconds after Potsdam’s goal. This goal opened the floodgates as Oswego eventually scored three power play goals, two shorthanded goals, and five second period goals for the easy win.

Varone and Ellis each got a pair.

Ryan Scott made 18 saves which followed a 20-save night against Plattsburgh. He may have had a light workout and letup six on Friday night, but he still played solid, and most importantly, consistent in net.

“That’s the best he’s played back-to-back games in a while,” Gosek said.

There were festivities all day on Saturday commemorating the last regular season game at the Romney. Tours of the new Campus Center were provided at midday. Afterwards, the alumni hockey game took place. Then, both schools hosted alumni get-togethers at local pubs. Oswego came out wearing throwback jerseys. During the second intermission, former players and coaches from all the previous teams that played before were introduced.

“I know they know how much it meant for the alumni being back,” Gosek said. “They certainly didn’t want to disappoint the guys.”

Home games at Romney aren’t quite over, yet. With the four points, Oswego has clinched a bye and home ice in the first round (they win the tie-breaker against Fredonia with a 1-0-1 head-to-head record). And with a three point lead over Geneseo, they stand a good chance of home ice in the final round as long as they get past the semifinals.

Two, maybe four or even five games left at the Romney?

“They want to play more games in Romney,” Gosek said. “They are excited about the new building, but I can honestly tell you there is not one of them who wants to leave this building with a sour taste in their mouth. I’ll give them credit for a bunch of young guys especially with the many freshmen, they’ve really bought into the tradition every year. I think that’s a good thing they take pride in that.”

The Shuffling Continues

Behind Oswego, the battling continues to be wild and crazy. Take Potsdam for instance. They moved from sixth place to fourth, then right back to sixth. And, they still have a chance at finishing second.

Potsdam’s initial move up was due to a 3-1 victory over Cortland where Vince Cuccaro outdueled Matt Meacham, making 24 saves and shutting out the Red Dragons for 49:14 before Matt Schillace scored. Before that, T.J. Sakaluk gave the Bears the lead with a pair of goals. Pat Lemay clinched it in the waning minutes.

Geneseo hung onto second place despite getting trounced by Buffalo State, 7-0. An even bigger surprise than the score itself was Geneseo deciding early in the third period to pull their goalie. At that point, it was 4-0, and Derek Jokic sat on the bench for a 5:45 stretch. They did it again later on as the Bengals scored three empty net goals including Sean Burke wrapping up a hat trick. He also got two assists on the night for five points.

“We didn’t seem to have a jump and spark in the lineup,” Geneseo coach Jason Lammers explains. “So, we thought we would try something different to get things going. To Buffalo State’s credit, their goalie made some great saves and they played very well against us. They deserved to win.”

Geneseo came back to beat Fredonia, 3-1, on goals by Matt English, Ram Sidhu, and Mitch Stephens. The lone Fredonia score, the first of the game near the end of the second period, was put in by Wil Barlow.

That Fredonia lost came after the Blue Devils beat Brockport by the same 3-1 score. Kraig Kuzma, Kyle Bozoian, and Neal Sheehan scored for the initial 3-0 lead. Mike Gershon broke the shutout early in the third period. Rick Cazares made 35 saves.

Getting back to Buffalo State, they were the only team amongst all these scrambling behind Oswego to win both games, while all the others split. It took overtime to do it against Brockport, 4-3. Burke scored two goals 1:01 apart in the first period to give the Bengals the lead.

Gordon Pritchard then scored two goals for Brockport in the first 1:11 of the second period, 53 seconds apart, to tie it. Brian Janke gave Buffalo State the lead five minutes later. Tim Crowley tied it in the third period.

Jason Hill won the game in overtime as Sean Sheehan made 30 saves.

Derek Spence got the nod for Brockport, making 45 saves. In fact, despite all the hoopla around the Golden Eagles top two goaltenders, Devin Ramasawamy and Greg Van’t Hof, it is Spence, the de facto third string goalie, who has the only wins for Brockport. He was in net for all four of Brockport’s victories so far this year.

Since Plattsburgh came back with a solid 9-2 victory over Cortland, Buffalo State’s two wins meant the mess got tighter. Just three points separates second through sixth while two points separates third through sixth with those four teams playing each other this weekend.

Can it get any more exciting than that?

SUNYAC Short Shots

Oswego’s Ryan Woodward leads the nation in scoring with 45 points … Woodward and Buffalo State’s Sean Burke are tied for the national lead in goals with 22 … Oswego’s Jocelyn Dubord is tied for second in the nation in assists with 28 … Kevin Galan of Plattsburgh is tied for the national lead in power play goals with 11 … On the other end of the spectrum, Geneseo’s Mitch Stephens is in a five-way tie with four shorthanded goals … Oswego’s Ryan Ellis leads the nation amongst rookie scoring with 42 points and goals with 19 … SUNYAC teams are doing very well on the power play. Oswego is the best in the country at 30.2 percent, Potsdam is ranked third at 26.5 percent, Plattsburgh is sixth with 24.9 percent, and Geneseo is eleventh best at 23.7 percent.

Game of the Week

It’s just flat out impossible to pick a game of the week. Never has every game, every period, every minute had so much impact amongst so many teams in the final weekend of play.

Even the Cortland at Brockport game is interesting as both teams have enough pride left to not want to finish in last place.

It’s so crazy, there are logical scenarios where a five-way tie for second place could exist. There is no truth to the rumor that the SUNYAC placed a rush order on a supercomputer to be able to figure out the tie-breaker in such a situation.

Certainly, the Oswego at Geneseo game is a big one, as the Ice Knights only hope for first place is to beat the Lakers.

“We’re focused and ready to play,” Lammers said. “The biggest game of the year for us.”

“We’ve struggled with them,” Gosek said. “They’ve always played well against us. They always are well prepared; last year with Coach Hill, this year with Jason [Lammers]. We’ll see what we got. We certainly want to finish strong and go out on a positive note.”

However, the games that really stand out are the four games between the North Country travel partners at the Western New York travel partners. With how close this year has been and the potential for various ties at the end of Saturday night, it’s fitting that I have a four-way tie for game of the week.

This all won’t shake out till the final horn sounds. It’s way too complicated and time consuming for me to provide every possible scenario and tie-breaker situation.

You really want me to make a prediction? Fine. Call me on Sunday, and I’ll tell you.

Life Is Good

On Saturday afternoon, I will be at Brockport for their game against Oswego. Then, that night, I’ll be in Buffalo State for their contest against Potsdam.

I have often said that Brockport has the best hot soft pretzel in the league. However, last year I discovered that Buffalo State surpassed them in the quality and tastefulness of their pretzel.

I will have the unique situation of being able to compare the two best pretzels in the SUNYAC on the same day.

I know. It’s a tough job. But, I’m willing to make the sacrifice.