Rivalry weekend in SUNYAC

Game of the Week

It certainly is a no-brainer this week.

Plattsburgh and Oswego slug it out again on the shores of Lake Ontario. The Oswego campus has been abuzz all week, as students lined up Monday morning before 7:00 a.m. for their allotment of tickets. The tickets were quickly gone once the windows opened. You may find some being sold on Facebook. Otherwise, there won’t be a seat or a standing room spot to be had.

“It’s always exciting here,” Oswego coach Ed Gosek said of the upcoming game.  “It’s one of the great rivalries in Division III. Lots more media hype. We’re just trying to get ready and not let all the distractions get in the way.”

The first thing Oswego has to worry about of course is Potsdam on Friday night. Overlook that game, and the Bears are capable of stealing one.

“I thought they had a good team last year,” Gosek said. “They did a good job recruiting, so they should be even better. It’s going to be a heck of a game.”

Potsdam coach Chris Bernard said, “We always say if you want to compete for a league title by default you’re going to be in the national picture because a few of the teams in our league are ascending to that. That’s a great thing for us to aspire to. We’re not looking past anybody. We have to throw everything we got at Oswego, regroup no matter what the result, come back the next day and give Cortland the same effort. Standings don’t know the difference between Oswego’s points and Cortland’s points.”

Then of course, the Cardinals enter the Campus Center.

“It’s a very good measuring stick for us,” Gosek said. “We know they are a very talented team, work hard, disciplined, well-coached. We match up well. It’s going to come down to the discipline, execution, and hard work.”

Gosek was happy with his team’s intensity last weekend, but thought their execution was average.

“We need to execute better,” he said.

Oswego took all three games against Plattsburgh last year, including the SUNYAC Championship game.  Considering both teams made it to Lake Placid, that’s no small feat.

“Even though we won three in a row, we know they have something to prove,” Gosek said. “We know they stumbled this past weekend and will be ready this weekend.”

Plattsburgh will be ready. Oswego will be ready. The fans will be ready for the annual Whiteout. In fact, even though it’s November, it is Oswego, and there is a 60 percent chance for snow, with temperatures hovering around the freezing point. Maybe we’ll have a natural whiteout as well.  Otherwise, the whiteout will just be indoors.

It’s always risky to pick a team to win their fourth in a row in a rivalry like this, but based on last week’s performances, that’s exactly what I’m doing.

Other Key Games

It isn’t often a Buffalo State at Fredonia contest gets relegated to second banana. Lucky for us fans, this game at the far western reaches of New York is being played on Friday, so you can catch both big rivalries taking place this weekend.

After years of one-goal games, empty-net goals, ties, and overtimes, last year was more of the same.  Fredonia won both contests, 4-2 on the road and 5-3 at home with an empty-netter. Expect more of the same this time. However, the story for this game is the new goalies for each team.

Fredonia’s Mark Friesen was named Rookie of the Week for his .935 save percentage performance over the two games. Though Kevin Carr lost both games for Buffalo State, his performance was strong.

Will we see a battle of freshmen netminders? Will they prove their first appearances were not a fluke?  Will we see another overtime battle between the mentor (Jeff Meredith) and his student (Nick Carriere)?

Probably. And Fredonia will break the hearts of Buffalo State once again.

Morrisville begins its SUNYAC season hosting Brockport and Geneseo. In the first game, Brockport will receive some of its own medicine. Now, they will be facing a goaltender on an up-and-coming team that is always capable of stealing a game. Caylin Relkoff will be ready to lead the Mustangs over Brockport.

However, after enjoying the win, Morrisville will be brought down to earth when they face Geneseo, who has no illusions about the game.

“Morrisville is a good team,” Geneseo coach Chris Schultz said. “They’ve got the deepest line up they’ve had in their history so far. Relkoff, he’s a sharp ‘tender. We just have to make sure we’re sticking to the system we’re playing right now. We don’t want to do anything differently because what we are doing right now we’re being successful at. Nothing is going to change Saturday night.”

Schultz is right. This will be the only game for the Ice Knights and nothing will change as they will beat the tired Mustangs.

The Rest of the Picks

All the games this week are at 7:00 p.m.  The other Friday game will see Plattsburgh keeping its eye on the here and now, beating Cortland.

Also expect Potsdam to beat Cortland on Saturday after coming off a loss to Oswego the night before.

Unfortunately for Cortland, it won’t get any easier, as they travel to Hobart on Tuesday, where they will suffer their third straight defeat.