The Oswego State Great Lakers jumped out to a 4-0 lead against the Potsdam State Bears and held on for a hard-fought 5-3 victory in Oswego. The Bears’ penalty-killing let them down as they let up two power-play goals in Oswego’s first three chances.
“In the first period and a half, we played as good as we ever had all year,” said Oswego coach George Roll.
That’s when the Lakers built their lead. Brady Crooks led things off when he snuck one between Potsdam’s Ryan Venturelli and the left post at 3:59.
Just a few minutes later, while on a two-man advantage, Andy Rozak finished off a dandy play of quick one-time passes that left Richard wide-open in front of the net. He easily shot it over the outstretched leg of Venturelli.
Oswego made it 3-0 at 13:08 when Mike Lukajic took advantage of a Potsdam giveaway and went in alone. He didn’t waste any time making moves, simply wristing a shot over the left shoulder of the goalie.
“We didn’t do a real good job of reading the situations,” Potsdam coach Glenn Thomaris said of the odd-man rushes. Potsdam would often pinch its defensemen in, especially on the power play, but it usually resulted in Oswego gaining prime scoring chances.
Oswego got another power-play goal early in the second when John Hirliman went in one-on-one. The defender laid back and tried to block the shot, but probably screened his own goalie as Hirliman’s hard slapshot eluded Venturelli, going under his right arm just inside the post.
Thomaris explained his team’s slow start, “We made three mistakes right off the bat, and they capitalized. They played a good game and took advantage of what we gave them.”
However, Potsdam wouldn’t roll over and die. Roll knew that too. “I didn’t feel comfortable when we were up 4-0. Not with their team. They never quit,” he said.
Oswego committed a multitude of penalties in the second period, allowing Potsdam four power-play opportunities which finally got the Bears on the scoreboard.
Anthony Greer let off a soft shot from the right point that stayed on the ice the whole way, and somehow found its way in past the bodies in front. It sneaked just inside the far post, out of reach of Tyson Gajda’s skate.
But thanks to outstanding goaltending by Gajda, Potsdam was not able to take advantage of all those power-play minutes, and trailed 4-1 after two periods.
Roll was very happy with his goaltender: “He was our best penalty killer.”
Meanwhile, Potsdam’s Thomaris was not pleased with his team’s man-advantage play (1-for-11). “We didn’t do a good job on the power play,” he said.
Potsdam came out strong in the third period, but first had to kill off a two-man disadvantage for a full two minutes.
The Bears cut the lead to two at 6:45 when Corey McAllister was fed the puck right in front of the net, and one-timed the shot past Gajda.
It was gut-check time for Oswego, which successfully passed the test. Just over a minute later, the Great Lakers were back up by three goals. Justin Perron fired a wicked slapshot from the left side right over the goaltender’s right shoulder.
Again, Potsdam wouldn’t quit. During a four-on-four situation, Jim Quilty shoveled a rebound back past Gajda, and Potsdam got a power play late and pulled the goalie, but despite a flurry of activity in Oswego’s end, the Great Lakers held off the Bears for the win.
“I never felt comfortable until the final horn sounded,” Roll said.
This was an important victory for Oswego. Not just in the standings, but in how they played — a strong all around effort, taking advantage of the opposition’s mistakes.
Oswego stays home with its 2-1-0 conference record, 2-3-0 overall, and faces Plattsburgh, coming off a 4-3 defeat at the hands of Cortland.
Potsdam, now 1-1-1 in league play and 5-2-1 overall, travels down I-81 to face Cortland Saturday night.