The annual Oswego White-Out event turned into a shutout, as Oswego clinched its third consecutive SUNYAC regular season title in grand fashion, beating archrivals Plattsburgh, 3-0. Oswego now has a seven-game unbeaten streak over the Cardinals at 6-0-1.
Andrew Hare got the shutout, making 27 saves.
“He tracked the puck very well,” Oswego coach Ed Gosek said. “There were times there was traffic in front, but he’s out as far as he can; he’s taking the bottom of the net away. I thought there were a lot that went into his pads through a screen, and I thought he did a good job controlling rebounds. Very, very solid.”
“Definitely one of the games I wanted to pull off,” Hare said. “My team played good in front of me and blocked a lot of shots for me. Pretty much made it easy for me.
Plattsburgh’s first power play lasted 15 seconds before it committed an infraction. That penalty proved to be major mistake. On the ensuing faceoff to the right of Mathieu Cadieux, Leimbrock won it cleanly back to Jesse McConney, who wound up for a one-timer slap shot, blasting it by Cadieux at 6:06.
Oswego doubled the score on a perfectly-executed, fast paced three-on-two at 17:21. Luke Moodie from the right side passed it to Paul Rodrigues in the middle, who quickly passed it to Jon Whitelaw on the left side. Whitelaw one-timed the shot past a helpless Cadieux.
“We make a bad play on the rush, and the puck is in the back of our net,” Plattsburgh coach Bob Emery said.
“We were opportunistic in the first period,” Gosek said. “The puck gets turned over at the top of the circle when they come on the line rush and we make it 2-0.”
Shortly afterward, David Titanic had a breakaway for Oswego. However, Cadieux stayed with it, forcing Titanic to go in too deep to get any decent shot off.
Oswego got into penalty trouble in the second, but despite many golden opportunities by Plattsburgh, including chances at an unguarded net, the puck just wasn’t bouncing right for the Cardinals.
“The story of our team this year,” Emery said. “We can’t put the puck in the net. I’m a big believer you got to make your own breaks out there. Oswego is the most opportunistic team in the country. We can’t be playing catch up when we are two behind.”
Luke Moodie nearly made it 3-0 when his blast from the right circle ricocheted off the post and the crossbar.
Some of those penalties carried over into the third, giving Plattsburgh a two-man advantage. However, it was not able to convert.
“I thought the turning point of the game was the five-on-three at the end of the second and the beginning of the third,” Gosek said. “Power play is a gain momentum from it or lose momentum from it. We clearly gained momentum from the PK. Up to that point, it’s 2-0 and they are still in it. They got some great looks, but just didn’t bury it.”
Then Oswego put the dagger in at 7:05 on its own power play. A rebound came way out to the right point for Chris Ayotte. Cadieux did not reposition himself quick enough to cut down the angle, allowing Ayotte’s one-timer blast to sail over Cadieux’s shoulder into the near upper corner.
“We worked the puck well,” Emery said. “We had some great looks. Then they get the power play, the puck is off one of our guy’s skate and it ends up in the back of our net.
“I didn’t think overall, outside of the goals for and goals against, we played a bad game. It’s the little things that standout when we’re not scoring.”
The sellout crowd, which arrived hours before the doors opened to grab the premium seats in the student general admission section, had plenty to cheer about. They may get another chance, as these two teams very well may be playing each other again on March 3 for the SUNYAC championship. If so, that game will take place in Oswego.
Meanwhile, they each have one game left in the regular season. The games Saturday may be meaningless for these teams, but will have an effect on any possible at-large bids. Oswego stays home to play Potsdam, which must win to clinch a playoff spot, and Plattsburgh travels south to face Cortland.