Thursday, December 30, 2010

Oswego State Hosts Pathfinder Bank Oswego Hockey Classic

The PathFinder Bank/Oswego Hockey Classic enters its fifth edition already steeped in a tradition of providing one of the most entertaining tournaments in Division III ice hockey.  Since its inception in 2007, three of the four previous Classic Champions have gone on to reach the NCAA Division III Frozen Four, including two national champions (Oswego State, 2007 and St. Norbert, 2008). Defending Champions Oswego State went to the Frozen Four last season in Lake Placid.

The four teams in this year’s tournament field – Hamilton College of the New England Small College Athletic Conference, Hobart College of the ECAC West, the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point of the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association, and host Oswego State – would like to continue this tradition of post-season success.

Laker Athletics Wheel
The Lakers, who are the defending Classic champions, enter as the nation’s top-ranked team as garnered by US College Hockey Online (USCHO) on December 13 with an overall record of 12-1-0.  Oswego State started the season winning twelve straight decisions before falling to Hobart, 5-2, on December 11 in the final contest for both squads before the holiday break.  More importantly, the Lakers finished the first half of the season with a conference record of 8-0-0, which is five points ahead of the second-place squad.

Oswego State’s early season success can be attributed to contribution up and down the lineup as eight different skaters have recorded game-winning goals.  The Laker offense ranked 13th in scoring in NCAA Division III on December 18, averaging 4.08 goals per game.  The Lakers are paced by senior Justin Fox who has tallied 17 points on eight goals and nine assists.  He is followed closely by linemate Ian Boots at 16 points (five goals and 11 assists). 

Special teams have also played an important role as Oswego State has the sixth-ranked power play in the country, converting 28.6 percent (20/70) of its opportunities with Fox scoring six power-play goals.  On the penalty kill, the Lakers sit tied for 12th in Division III at 87.3 percent (62/71).

Another reason for Oswego State’s success has been the goaltending efforts of junior Paul Beckwith and sophomore Dan Jones, who have combined for a goals against average of 1.62, which ranks fifth in the nation.  Beckwith is 11-0-0 on the season with a 1.37 goals against average and a .949 save percentage, but suffered an injury early in December that will likely keep him from playing during the Classic.  Jones appeared in his first collegiate contests in the final two games before the break posting a 1-1-0 record.  His win came against 12th-ranked Utica in a 2-1 decision where he made 27 saves.   

The Lakers will be tested immediately in the opening round when they face Hamilton College (4-3-0).  Each of the Continentals’ four victories have been by two or more goals, but have not been able to replicate their offensive production on a consistent basis as they average 3.29 goals per game, which is 36th in Division III.  Sophomore defenseman Joe Houk paces the squad with five goals, while forwards Anthony Scarpino and Anthony Ruberto are tied for the team lead in points with seven on two goals and five assists each.  Defensively, Hamilton is tied for 30th in goals allowed at 2.86 with senior goaltender Scott Hefferman posting a 2.50 goals against average in six appearances.  Execution on special teams will be critical for the Continentals as they rank 38th in the country on the penalty kill at 81.2 percent (26/32) and 58th on the power play at 14.6 percent (6/41).

UW-Stevens Point
This year’s West Region representative comes to Oswego State from the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point with an overall mark of 5-8-0.  The Pointers started the season 4-1-0 and was ranked as high as 10th in the Poll on November 8, but suffered a seven-game losing streak before recording a 3-2 win over then 14th-ranked UW-Eau Claire.  Seven of UW-Stevens Point’s losses have been by two or fewer goals versus four ranked opponents.  The Pointers have a balanced offensive attack with no player tallying more than four goals, but have struggled to score goals as the 53rd-ranked offense in Division III at 2.84 goals per contest.  Sophomore goaltender Nick Graves has logged the majority of minutes between the pipes with a 2.34 goals against average to keep UW-Stevens Point in contests.  The Pointers have a solid penalty kill unit that ranks 22nd at 84.3 percent having killed off 59 of the 70 power plays they have faced.

UW-Stevens Point will square off against Hobart College in Thursday’s first matchup.  The Statesmen enter the Classic on a high note riding a three-game win streak after handing Oswego State its’ lone loss of the season on December 11 in a 5-2 win on their home ice.  Hobart has played particularly well against SUNYAC teams having posted a 3-1-1 record with the loss coming at the hands of Geneseo (5-2) and the tie versus Cortland in a 2-2 stalemate.  The Statesmen rank in the top 20 in goals scored and goals allowed.  Offensively, Hobart ranks 16th in scoring at 3.85 goals per game behind 12 points from senior Matthew Wallace and junior Greg Ciciola.  Both have also provided a spark to the 16th-ranked power-play unit (13/54 at 24.1 percent), as the skaters have combined to record seven of the team’s 13 power-play goals.  Defensively, the Statesmen have gone to sophomore Nick Broadwater in goal all season.  Broadwater carries a 2.33 goals against average and a .927 save percentage.  

There is live Stats and Oswego's Student run station, WNYO-FM has all the action live from the Campus Center Ice Arena on the campus of the State University of New York at Oswego.

Picture and story courtesy of Oswego State Sports Information