Travis Broughman looks for a pass

Oswego State’s Travis Broughman (middle) looks for a pass heading into the neutral zone during the Oswego State men’s hockey team’s 2-1 win over SUNY Cortland Friday during the Lakers’ TEAL game. Broughman recorded an assist in the contest on Connor Sleeth’s goal. The Lakers take on Brockport State and SUNY Geneseo this weekend.

OSWEGO — It was another weekend of coming back from behind for the Oswego State men’s hockey team.

Something that the Lakers’ coaching staff wants to change heading into a tough weekend with Brockport State and SUNY Geneseo on tap Friday and Saturday. Both opposing teams are undefeated heading into the weekend with 5-0 records.

 The Golden Eagles and Knights are also both 3-0 in the SUNYAC.

“Right now, our focus is on ourselves, playing better hockey in the first period of Brockport. Actually, the first shift of Brockport. Can we set the tone in the first shift against Brockport?” Oswego State head coach Ed Gosek said. “For us, with a young team, it’s one shift at a time, and one period at a time. … We want to try to be successful in the first period against Brockport to set the tone for the weekend.”

Oswego State earned three conference points last weekend with a 2-1 win over SUNY Cortland after falling behind early in the first period. Connor Sleeth and Troy Robillard both scored in the victory. 

Following the victory, the Lakers have now been scored 8-0 in the first period in their first five games of the season. 

While Gosek said it helps develop a sense of resiliency, “it’d be nice to start off with the lead and not having the, ‘Oh crap, here we go again.’”

“It’s helping develop and forge our character. … We do need to learn from it and get better,” he said. “To our guys’ credit, three of the five, they’ve been able to battle back and get a tie, and two of them, they get victories.”

With a large group of new players still trying to crack the lineup each and every game, Gosek added that there needs to be a change of mentality: going from being happy to get into the lineup, to playing so that they stay in the lineup.

The intensity doesn’t happen until the latter stages of the game, Gosek said. Sometimes, it gets to the point where players say, “OK. We’ve got to turn it up a notch here or we’re not going to be successful.”

“Quite frankly, they work harder and battle harder Monday through Thursday to get in the lineup than they do in the games once they’re in the lineups. To us, they beat the heck out of one another and compete fiercely,” Gosek said. “We’re like, ‘OK. This week we’re ready.’ It’s deflating, the lack of intensity. … We’ve had some very productive video sessions. We’ve had guys lead by example in practice. At some point, somebody’s going to earn some of the spots by playing well and they’re going to stay in. The revolving door, so to speak, will be minimal.”

But as the weeks go on, the coaching staff is still noticing players that are continuing to distinguish themselves and create some sort of “gap” between those who will get more ice time vs. those who won’t.

Gosek mentioned Steven Kozikoski, the senior goaltender, has been consistent in his last three starts — wins against SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Cortland, and a tie against Plattsburgh State. With the Lakers averaging just 2.2 goals per game, Kozikoski’s play gives Oswego State “a chance to be successful.”

“Right now, there would be no intelligent reason that I can think of to not go with Koz other than to give one of the others an opportunity to make sure they’re prepared or ready,” Gosek said. “When we give (Richie Parent and Eric Green) an opportunity, whether it’s this weekend or next weekend, they’re prepared and ready to go. … It’d be nice to know, ‘Hey, another guy can step in and play the same way.’”

Geneseo enters the weekend ranked No. 1 in the country by US College Hockey Online, while Brockport receiving votes, just missing out on the top 15. By the votes, the Golden Eagles technically rank No. 16 in the country.

Ryan Romeo leads Brockport with nine points (two goals, seven assists), followed by Mitchell Parsons’ eight points (three goals, five assists). Nolan Egbert has allowed five goals in five appearances for a 1.25 goals against average. He currently boasts a .950 save percentage.

The last time the Lakers and Golden Eagles met was on Feb. 8, 2020, at Brockport’s rink. The game ended in a 2-2 overtime tie. Travis Broughman and Alex DiCarlo both scored for Oswego State, while Kozikoski made 22 saves.

“(Brockport’s) playing well,” Gosek said. “They’ve got to be feeling good about themselves. They beat Plattsburgh; something we couldn’t do. They smoked Potsdam; something we couldn’t do.”

Geneseo’s top scorer is Justin Cmunt with nine points (seven goals, two assists). Brendan Miller (two goals, six assists) and Peter Morgan (three goals, five assists) are tied for second with eight points each. Matt Petizian and Adam Harris have split time in net. Both have played four games each, while Harris has started two and Petizian has started three.

Harris has a .912 save percentage and a 1.86 goals against average. Petizian boasts a .962 save percentage and a 0.86 goals against average.

Geneseo and Oswego State last met in the SUNYAC championship match in March of 2020. The Knights came out on top 4-1.

“If we can get off to a good start, I think, more importantly about us, is we’re going to play with some confidence and maybe we’ll start to loosen up with our sticks like we did in pre-season against Canton and even against Utica where we started playing better as the game went on once we scored some goals and got some confidence,” Gosek said. “We’re hoping that if we can get a lead and play more relaxed, pucks will start to fall. It all balances out.”

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