Utica and Oswego battle to draw in Carrier Dome

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Utica and Oswego played to a draw in the Frozen Dome Classic (photo: Angelo Lisuzzo).

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The Carrier Dome has hosted a slew of different sporting events over the many years the “inflatable” roofed stadium has existed. Never a hockey game, though. Until Saturday.

Oswego State and Utica faced off in the second game of a triple-header dubbed the Frozen Dome Classic.

In an up and down game with breakaways and momentum swings, as well as a disputed no-goal call on video review, the teams played, perhaps appropriately, to a 4-4 overtime tie.

“It was a classic Utica-Oswego game,” Utica coach Gary Heenan said. “The rivalry is there. It was spirited. They took advantage of the mistakes we made. We had a couple of big goals at opportune times. It was a good game.”

“Our offense was fine,” Oswego coach Ed Gosek said. “Defensively, we made too many unforced turnovers. We’ve got to do a better job of managing the puck in our own end.

It didn’t take long for the Carrier Dome to see its first collegiate goal. That honor went to Oswego’s Mitchell Herlihey at 2:19.

After Utica’s goalie flubbed a clearing attempt, Matt Galati picked up the loose puck on the right boards. He quickly passed it across to a wide-open Herlihey at the back door, who had no trouble redirecting it into the unguarded net.

“I can’t tell you how many times we’ve given up the lead on the very first shot of a game this year,” Heenan said.

Oswego made it 2-0 at 15:19. Chris Raguseo’s wrister from the left point sailed through a crowd over Mike Taffe’s right shoulder.

“We’ve been pretty resilient all year,” Heenan said. “We’ve been down in most games and we’ve clawed our way back.”

Luc Boby had an excellent chance to get Utica back into it with a breakaway early in the second. However, Matt Zawadzki was equal to the task.

The next time Utica got a breakaway, they did not waste it. Louis Educate found himself going in alone, beating Zawadzki with one move at 7:08.

Two minutes later, Utica tied the game, as Anthony McVeigh let one go while skating across the high slot.

Oswego took even less time to regain the lead, as just over a minute later, Chris Waterstreet banged one home from in close for the 3-2 lead.

Utica needed only 51 seconds in the third period to tie it up once again. Trent Samuels-Thomas won a faceoff straight back to Peter LaFosse, who quickly shot it, beating Zawadzki stick side.

Continuing the pattern, Oswego took less than two minutes to take the lead yet again. The goal epitomized the game’s constant changes of momentum. Utica came down on a breakaway rush that was stymied. After some more pressure which Oswego turned back, the Lakers broke out on a rush, which turned into their own breakaway. Brandon Adams went to his backhand to flip it in.

The Pioneers tied it up on only their and the game’s second power play. Educate notched his second of the night with a backhander near side as the goalie was leaning the other way at 12:35.

“He’s playing a lot better this year,” Heenan said. “I thought he played a great game.”

With about five minutes left, an Oswego shot hit the cross bar, came straight down on its edge, and bounced out. Opinions varied on whether the puck crossed the line. The refs ruled it did not. It went to video review, and the call on the ice was affirmed, much to the chagrin of Gosek.

Utica had the better chances in overtime, one of which Zawadzki was forced to make a difficult glove save on.

This is the second consecutive 4-4 tie for Oswego.

“We always look long term,” Gosek said. “It’s not just about wins or losses, but how did we play. We need to get back to basics. We’re just making things too complicated.”

“Would we take a tie against the undefeated number two team in the county? Yeah, I think we would,” Heenan said.

Oswego remains unbeaten (5-0-2), and because they had to make room on their schedule for this special game, will host Geneseo on Tuesday.

Utica (1-4-2) hosts Hamilton on Black Friday afternoon.