Oswego came out on fire in the first period, exploded for three goals, and hung on for a 5-1 victory over Geneseo in the SUNYAC semifinals. The win sends Oswego to the SUNYAC championship game against their archrivals, Plattsburgh (who defeated Brockport, 7-2).
“When you have a veteran team, there are no excuses after last Saturday night,” Oswego coach Ed Gosek said. “Potsdam played hard [last week]. I’m not taking anything away from them, but we didn’t show up. Tonight, we knew one thing. We weren’t going to be outworked. Our discipline was going to be good. And tonight we executed. Getting off to a good start, there was going to be no guys following tonight. Everybody was going to be leaders.”
“They had a tough weekend last weekend,” Geneseo coach Chris Schultz said. “I think everybody and his brother knew they were going to come out and have a passionate first period, and they certainly did. They were very opportunistic, and they got up and down the ice faster than any team I’ve ever seen and before you know it we’re down 3-0. If it wasn’t for Gershon, it could have been 6-0 in the first period.”
Oswego jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead on goals at 2:13 and 5:18.
On the first, the puck slid out to the blueline where Rich Zalewski fired a slapshot on the ice that Cory Gershon didn’t seem to see through the screen, barely moving as the puck went by him.
Ryan Ellis got the second after constant pressure. Ellis, at the doorstep off the right, flipped the puck over the near shoulder of Gershon.
Seconds later, Schultz called time out to try to settle his troops.
“[I told them] to relax,” Schultz said. “Guys were tight. They weren’t moving their feet, and when you don’t move your feet against probably the fastest team in the country, you’re going to have trouble. I was hoping if we could call time out and slow things down on them in the first period, that was probably our best bet.”
It didn’t work. Oswego immediately resumed their attack, nearly scoring right after the timeout. After many other blown opportunities at open nets, odd man breakouts, and rebounds, Oswego finally made it 3-0 at 12:55. Darrell Levy threw the puck down low where Mark Lozzi tipped it past Gershon up high. The shots at the end of the first period 22-7 in favor of Oswego.
“It could have very easily been four, five nothing in the first period,” Gosek said. “There were three with us and the net wide open and we didn’t bury it.”
Geneseo settled down in the second period turning the game into a more evenly played contest. The Ice Knights finally got on the scoreboard at 11:35 on the power play.
Entering the zone quickly, Sebastian Panetta passed it across the blueline to Jeff MacPhee at the right point. MacPhee let go of a slapshot which Casey Balog deflected past Tim Potter.
The shots were also a lot more even in the middle period with Geneseo having the edge, 16-13.
“We went back to what our identity is as a team,” Schultz said. “Getting in on their defense on the forecheck. Just playing with passion. Possessing the puck down low beneath the dots. Trying to create turnovers from their defensemen. We did play well in the second period, but you can’t play 40 minutes against Oswego because they’ll make you pay, and they certainly did.”
“They played well in the second,” Gosek said. “All of a sudden we were afraid of making mistakes. We were afraid of taking chances like we did in the first period.”
Oswego, or rather Eric Selleck, put the game away in the third period with two scores 1:44 apart. The first came on a quick rush. Chris Laganiere raced down the right side and led a streaking Selleck down the middle. Selleck redirected the puck through the five-hole.
Laganiere once again fed Selleck in front of the net. This time, Selleck one-timed a shot past Gershon.
“We told him after he won Rookie of the Year, it’s easy to rest on your laurels,” Gosek said. “Easy to just say okay, it’s a good year. It takes a special person to raise it up in the playoffs. We challenged him. I give him credit. He raised his game up a level tonight. I thought it was one of his smarter games. He’s got the long reach, and when he does that, he’s effective.”
Tim Potter wound up with 27 saves for the win.
Geneseo (14-12-1) ends their season.
Oswego (18-7-1) travels to Plattsburgh for a third shot at the Cardinals. This time, it is for all the marbles–a SUNYAC championship and an automatic bid into the NCAA playoffs.