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Joseph Molinaro (middle) competes for the Oswego State men's hockey team last season. Molinaro is one of the top returners for the Lakers this season.

OSWEGO — With a large senior class of 14 players and bringing in two new players, the team chemistry has already been strong for the Oswego State men’s hockey team.

After a training camp in early August followed by a 10-day trip to Italy and Switzerland that featured three games, Oswego State head coach Ed Gosek said the team became a closer group with one another.

“Everything that we did, we were together. I don’t know of any circumstance that wasn’t a positive,” he said.

The Lakers didn’t lose too many players during the offseason, only graduating four seniors. Two players, Michael McArthur and Thomas Horn, didn’t return to the team.

One of the bigger losses from the graduating class was defenseman Devin Campbell, a two-time SUNY Athletic Conference defensive player of the year, along with being a captain his senior year. While Campbell wasn’t one to rack up the points, he was a mainstay on the team’s blue line and in its own zone.

“Losing Devin was a huge loss to our defensive core,” junior Carter Allen said. “(This season), you could draw names out of a hat and guys are ready to go. We've got a really close group.”

Oswego State also graduated Kristoffer Brun, Cameron Berry and Josh Nenadal. Nenadal was a transfer from Lake Superior State University for his senior season.

Also departing from the Lakers was assistant coach Mark Digby after nine years with the program. He will join head coach Diane Dillon and the Oswego State women’s hockey team as the associate head coach.

Jon Whitelaw, who served as a volunteer assistant coach for the last couple of seasons, was promoted to assistant coach.

“(Digby) helped me get through a difficult time in my life and (time with) my kids. Watching his kids be born and all of it – we’ll miss that part,” Gosek said. “We’re really just the caretakers here and here to do what’s best for the players to be successful. Jon certainly carries that torch.”

Not-is-all a loss for Oswego State, after falling to Hobart College in the NCAA Division III Tournament quarterfinals to end the Lakers’ season. The team returns 90 percent of its scoring from last season, including Joseph Molinaro, who led the team with 15 goals.

Senior Anthony Passero added toward the end of the year, the team “stopped putting them in as much as we were (before) and it shows.”

“If our goalie’s keeping them out, then we’ve got to put them in,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of firepower and a lot of guys that can score goals and shoot the puck and make plays, which makes it fun.”

Also coming back for Oswego State are senior goaltenders David Richer and Cedric Hansen. Following an impressive sophomore campaign after allowing only 1.52 goals per game and a .934 save percentage, Richer was given a bulk of the starts last season.

Richer made 22 appearances last season, with a 2.21 GAA and a .903 save percentage. Hansen only played in seven games with a 1.48 GAA and .920 save percentage.

Gosek said that the team would’ve preferred to have a goaltender with a .930 save percentage by the end of last season. He also mentioned that the goalie needs a good defense in front of him that is willing to block shots, which is “non-negotiable,” according to Gosek.

“If someone clearly proves that they’re No. 1, and we have a No. 2, then so be it,” he said. “We’re hoping one can rise to the occasion and take a hold of it.”

Oswego State will carry 26 players this season, with 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders, which is “really the right number,” Gosek said. It accounts for potential injuries, among other things.

Joining the Lakers are freshman Alex DiCarlo from Smith Falls and Pembroke in the CCHL, and junior transfer Carson Vance from Division I program Western Michigan University. DiCarlo, a power forward, scored 65 points in 62 games during his final season in junior hockey. Vance, a defenseman, played in 33 games at WMU and registered an assist.

“(We have) two extremes. One coming in from a Division I program with playing experience and another coming in as the only true freshman trying to fit in,” Gosek said. “Those two players, from what we can observe, have fit in extremely well.”

Oswego State (19-7-2 overall, 11-4-1 in SUNYAC last season) enters this season following last season’s losses to Hobart College in the NCAAs and SUNY Geneseo in the SUNYAC Tournament Championship.

Gosek said the team has a hunger to begin the 2019-2020 season and head in strong into SUNYAC play.

“It’s been a long preseason, especially coming back in August. But I think it’s a good thing.” he said. “We certainly want to enjoy every game this year and not be in a hurry to get to the end of the year. It’s a great group of guys.”

The Lakers kick off their regular season a home game Friday, Nov. 1 against Cortland at 7 p.m.

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