OSWEGO — For the first time in program history, the Oswego State men’s ice hockey team will head overseas for a series of international exhibitions. On Aug. 1, the Lakers returned to Oswego for a series of practices before embarking on a 10-day international adventure.

After six days of two-a-day practice sessions to get the team synced into hockey mode, an assortment of players, staff, supporters and families will board a plane today headed for Milan, Italy. When the team touches down in Milan, the Lakers will get a taste of culture over the 10-day span, coupled with a trio of games against professional foes.

“It started back four years ago down in Naples, Florida at our coaching convention with my wife (Mary) talking to a bunch of other coaches’ wives about how they had gone. She wanted to know why we weren't going,” said Laker coach Ed Gosek. “That really started the ball rolling.”

The team will be staying in Como, Italy for the first half of the trip. On the second day (Friday) overseas, Oswego State will get down to business, facing off against GDT Bellinzona. Oswego State will travel a little over an hour across the Switzerland border to face Bellinzona, a member of Swiss 1 Liga of the Regio League, which is run by the Swiss Ice Hockey Federation. The game will be played at Centro Sportivo Bellinzona beginning at 8:15 p.m. (2:15 p.m. EDT). Two days later, Oswego State will head back over the border so the teams can square off again, with puck drop slated for 5:15 p.m. (11:15 a.m. EDT).

“We get an early start on the season. It’s great for team bonding and team chemistry, especially this year with 14 seniors,” Gosek said. “It is a great way for our senior class to start off their final year.”

On the day off between the two games, the Lakers will explore Italy with a trip to Rapallo that includes a boat tour of Portofino, San Fruttuoso and Camogli on the Mediterranean coast. It will be an opportunity that many may never have had without the support of the campus and local communities.

“It’s the first time for the history of our program, we are going to enjoy it, make the most of it, and for a lot of us, including myself, it probably is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Gosek said. “Our staff and Mark Digby have done an excellent job with all the fundraising efforts and the work required to make it happen. The Blueline Club, the alumni base and the local community have all been a very important part of (collecting) the funding. The players are responsible for some of the cost, but we wanted to raise enough to make it affordable for them.”

The fifth day of the trip will see the Lakers travel three hours east to Bonotto Hotel Palladio in Bassano Del Grappa for a three-day stay. Those days will be filled with sightseeing of epic proportions, including Cortina d’Ampezzo — known as the Aspen of Italy — and the world’s City on Water, Venice. Oswego State will remain in a hockey mindset, however, playing its third and final game on Tuesday, Aug. 13. The Lakers will faceoff with Alleghe of the Italian Hockey League, with start time scheduled for 8 p.m. (2 p.m. EDT). Alleghe will host the Lakers in the Alleghe Ice Palace, which is a multi-purpose complex that seats 2,500 fans for sports, music and tourist events.

Oswego State’s final three days in Europe will be spent wandering Rome, viewing sights such as Vatican City, the Sistine Chapel, the Ruins, the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon and the Colosseum. On the trip’s last day, the team will eat at the oldest restaurant in Rome, Da Meopatacca. The Lakers will board a plane on Sunday, Aug. 18 to return to the United States.

Although Gosek’s wife Mary passed away a few years ago after a valiant battle against ovarian cancer, the hockey team’s trip to Europe was her brainchild, which is not overlooked by the Lakers’ leader.

“I’m treating my children to go along with me so it will be a nice time for our family.” Gosek said. “We obviously wish Mary was with us, but we will carry her in spirit, as this all began with her.”

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