A pair of rapid-fire goals in the first and second periods helped Oswego win the SUNYAC semifinal game against Buffalo State 5-2 and move on to the championship game.
Chris Muise and David Titanic each scored twice and Andrew Hare made 33 saves.
“I thought we started off a little bit tentative,” Oswego coach Ed Gosek said. “They get the goal early on. I thought the guys stayed the course. I thought tonight was a big step in the right direction over last Saturday night of not coming apart when things didn’t go well.”
“I think five-on-five, at least the first two periods, we out scoring-chanced them,” Buffalo State coach Nick Carriere said. “The reason I start that sentence ‘five-on-five’ is because we weren’t five-on-five all the time. I think we took some penalties we didn’t need to take. I think we did a lot of it to ourselves.”
Buffalo State got on the scoreboard first midway through the opening period thanks to a gift of a giveaway by Oswego. Matt Bessing received the “pass” in the high slot and then dished it off to Mike Zannella at the left faceoff circle. Zannella found a gap near side to place his wrist shot with the teams skating four aside.
Five minutes later, Oswego rebounded with two goals in 53 seconds.
Luke Moodie from the top of the crease tapped in a crossing pass from Paul Rodrigues on the power play.
Titanic, while down on one knee, whipped a shot in from the slot to give Oswego the lead.
Hare preserved the lead seven minutes into the second period when he stopped a shorthanded breakaway by Shane Avery.
“I thought Hare was the difference,” Gosek said. “It was not the amount, it was the quality of the shots. I think this was his best performance next to Amherst last year in Lake Placid. He stopped a breakaway, a couple in close, made the one on the back door, we have blown coverage on the PK and he comes across and makes the stop. I thought he tracked the puck well.”
At 16:32 with each team down a man, Muise extended the lead to 3-1. This time, it was Buffalo State which handed the Lakers a gift. Nick Melligan’s cross ice pass in his own zone was easily intercepted by Muise, giving him a breakaway down low. His dekes left Carr motionless in the split, enabling Muise to wrap it around Carr’s left skate.
“I tried to anticipate where he was going to go with it,” Muise said. “It went off my pads and I just went in with a move and fortunately, it went in.”
Just 2:10 later, Muise got his second to make it 4-1, but not before some controversy.
The Bengals thought they cut the lead to one, but the goal was waved off because the officials called goaltender interference on the play. Muise scored on the ensuing four-on-three power play when he flipped it over Carr’s shoulder a few feet away.
“It was a very incidental contact,” Carriere said. “The bigger thing for us was when our player shot the puck, he got hit blind side. Typically, it’s a game misconduct. You can see it on video clearly, but it happens quickly. These guys have a tough job.”
The Bengals did finally get one back early in the third seconds after a power play of their own. Todd Graham’s shot from the middle somehow found a hole between the post and Hare’s right skate.
Buffalo State continued to play hard in the final period, but despite some close calls, was unable to close the gap any further.
Titanic finished off the game with an empty-net goal.
Plattsburgh beat Geneseo 5-1 in the other semifinal, setting up a third meeting this season between Plattsburgh and Oswego.
Oswego, which lost the previous two contests to Plattsburgh, hosts the game next Saturday evening.