Thursday, February 16, 2012

Its Whiteout Weekend

The number one ranked team in the country, the Oswego State Lakers return to home ice for the final weekend of the regular season as they play host to the Plattsburgh Cardinals and the Potsdam Bears at the Campus Center Ice Arena.

Oswego first plays Plattsburgh in the traditional Whiteout Game, a tradition that started when the Lakers moved from Romney Fieldhouse to the state of the art Campus Center. Back at Romney, they had the tradition of the bagels and bagels were tossed onto the ice after the first Laker goal. They did away with the bagels when the team moved to its new home on campus. The last bagel controversy happened back in February of 2006 when the two long time rivals met at Romney for the last time. Matt Whitehead scored to make the game 3-2 and a bagel was tossed onto the ice. The referees called a delay of game penalty against Oswego, to the dismay of Lakers bench boss Ed Gosek. The Cardinals scored on the in suing Power Play to put the game away and skate off of a weekend sweep of the Lakers and close Romney Fieldhouse on a losing note for the home team.

The first match-up between the rivals this season resulted in a 2-2 tie at Stafford Ice Arena in early December. The Lakers led twice in the game behind goals from Jon Whitelaw and Chris Ayotte, only to see Plattsburgh battle back and tie it.

Since the 2009-2010 season Oswego is  4-0-1 against Plattsburgh. The Lakers and Cardinals are playing for more than just a win against their hated rivals, they are playing for the number one seed in SUNYAC and home ice advantage throughout the Conference playoffs and potentially a top three ranking in the Country.

In an article called SUNYAC Jenga  posted by Russel Jaslow of the USCHO, Jaslow talks about the scenario of what this game means to both teams. "At the top (of the SUNYAC Standings), Oswego and Plattsburgh have clinched a first-round bye. The only question is who finishes first. The only way Plattsburgh can do it cleanly is if they sweep the weekend, including beating Oswego, and the Lakers drop both games. If they tie, the only way that can happen is if Plattsburgh sweeps the weekend and Oswego ties Potsdam. This will give Plattsburgh the regular season title, since in this scenario, the Cardinals would have a 1-0-1 record against Oswego".

According to the latest USCHO D-III Polls, the Lakers are number one after sweeping Fredonia and Buffalo State. Plattsburgh dropped to fourth after losing to the Brockport Golden Eagles last weekend at Tuttle North. The two hated rivals are sandwiched in by Norwich University and Amherst College.

Saturday is Senior Night in Oswego as the Lakers take on the Potsdam Bears. In the first meeting this season, Oswego defeated Potsdam 6-4 at Maxcy Hall. Scoring for the Hunter Green and Gold included Jon Whitelaw, Taylor Ferris, Jesse McConney, Chris Muise and a pair of goals from Tyler Leimbrock. Saturday's contest will be the final regular season game for Defensemen Jared Anderson and Hank Van Boxmeer alongside Forwards Ian Boots and Andrew Mather and net-minder Paul Beckwith.

This game is not only important to the Lakers as they want to win for their Seniors, but for Potsdam, it could potentially mean a chance to play in the SUNYAC playoffs.   “We know the scenarios,” Potsdam coach Chris Bernard told USCHO Corespondent Russel Jaslow. “For us, it’s just a matter of, if you win you’re in". Potsdam can get into the SUNYAC Playoffs with a win either at Cortland or Oswego. Potsdam holds the tiebreaker against Brockport. If both teams lose all their games this weekend, or Potsdam wins one game and Brockport beats Morrisville, the Bears win the tiebreaker based on more conference wins. Jaslow added that "if Potsdam ties its two games and Brockport wins its two games, they will be tied with identical records. They beat each other by identical 5-3 scores, so it goes to conference goal differential. Right now, Potsdam is at minus-six, and of course if it ties both games, it remains at minus-six. Brockport is at minus-15. This means Brockport would have to defeat Morrisville by at least nine goals just to force a coin flip. Not score nine goals, but win by nine goals.Thus, if Potsdam wins one game, they are in. Same with Geneseo if it beats Morrisville" . They can also lock themselves in with a Brockport loss to Morrisville.

This weekend is a busy one and the Oswego Student Media Group will once again provide coverage of this weekend's contests. Friday begins with a special two-hour pregame with interviews and more on WNYO 88.9FM starting at 5pm Friday night. Puckdrop for both games will be at 7:00pm on the radio as well as WTOP-10 as well as streaming online on the Oswego State Athletics site.

Thanks to Russel Jaslow and Michael Keeley for their contribution to this story