LeBlanc celebrates

Josh LeBlanc (middle) leads the group celebration following his goal during the Oswego State men’s hockey team’s 5-4 loss to Elmira College Saturday. He and Travis Broughman (left) were recently named assistant captain and captain for the Lakers.

OSWEGO — After dropping both non-conference games over the weekend, the Oswego State men’s hockey team is beginning league play with road games on Friday and Saturday.

The Lakers take on SUNY Potsdam before traveling to Plattsburgh State Saturday for the first two SUNYAC games of the season.

Head coach Ed Gosek said following the two exhibition games and the two regular-season games against Hobart College and Elmira College, the coaching staff has “learned an awful lot in three weeks.”

“We have learned a lot about our guys personally and their physical attributes, what they’re capable of doing, and we’ve learned a lot about them as a group and a team. It’s been a whirlwind,” Gosek said. “After not playing last year and not practicing, it’s coming together as quickly as I think it can.”

Oswego State fell 3-1 to Hobart at the Deborah F. Stanley Arena Friday. Troy Robillard scored his first goal as a Laker in the third period, assisted by Travis Broughman and Jackson Arcan. Eric Green played in net, recording 20 saves. 

After the contest, Gosek said the team played much better in the final 15 minutes of the game but looked slow in the first and second periods.

The Lakers came back to tie Elmira twice before allowing the game-winning goal with three minutes left in the game, losing 5-4. Josh LeBlanc, Conor Smart, Broughman and Alex DiCarlo all recorded goals. 

Richie Parent played the first period, allowing three goals on nine shots. Steven Kozikoski played the remainder of the game, recording nine saves but allowing two goals.

“We’re pleased that we had push back in both those games, but certainly not pleased with the way we started both games,” Gosek said. “Can’t say we were back on our heels Saturday, but I thought we were the aggressors.”

With all three goaltenders seeing time over the weekend, Gosek said that the coaching staff is hoping one of them can “take charge” as the true starting goalie for Oswego State. Two years ago, the Lakers utilized all three goaltenders as well — David Richer, Cedric Hansen and Kozikoski — while trying to find the No. 1 goalie.

Gosek mentioned that graduate assistant coach Devin McDonald, a former goaltender for SUNY Geneseo, has been working with all three goaltenders and has also been giving them more work to “improve goaltending.”

“Platoon-system, I’ve never seen it work anywhere where you’re rotating three goalies trying to find the No. 1,” Gosek said. “We like our team. We like the direction we’re going. That doesn’t mean we don’t have confidence in (the goalies) at this point. We’ve got to get some timely saves from them to win some of these games.”

The coaching staff also utilized a lot of roster changes for both games as well, switching out a good chunk of players. Gosek said following the Elmira game that a few players “distinguished” themselves, making it harder to choose final lineups, he added.

 “Some of them just needed time. They’re showing us. It’s been consistent in practice,” Gosek said. “When we’re giving them the opportunities in games, they’re taking advantage of them. I think that’s a huge positive from that standpoint.”

Last week, the coaching staff also officially named captains for the 2021-22 season. Broughman was named captain and Josh LeBlanc was named the assistant captain. Both players are seniors.

Broughman has played 54 career games, including both this season, and has 53 points (29 goals, 24 assists). LeBlanc, including this season, has skated in 39 games for Oswego State, tallying 14 points (seven goals, seven assists). 

Gosek said whenever Broughman steps on the ice, he “earns the respect of his teammates,” and has shown a lot of resiliency with a lot of “adversity” he’s faced off the ice. LeBlanc is also the “most conditioned” player, according to Gosek, after recording a team record for the pre-season physical fitness test.

“Right now, we’re working with those two also to learn what it means to be a captain. How do you hold your teammates accountable? What can you say to them? How do you reinforce the coaches’ message? All those areas,” Gosek said. “Managing attitudes, egos and ice time, plus managing seniors and freshmen at the same time, they have to be understanding, approachable, say the right things and do the right things to bring us together as a team while maintaining their level of play and not letting it affect them. It’s not an easy task.”

Four conference points are on the line this weekend for Oswego State. 

Potsdam is coming off a postponed weekend after the weekend series against Saint Michael’s was canceled.

 The Bears did have two exhibitions against SUNY Canton and Skidmore College on Oct. 22 and 23., Potsdam went 7-18-2 in 2019-20, falling in the SUNYAC semifinals to eventual champions, SUNY Geneseo. 

Plattsburgh boasts a 1-1 record after falling 3-2 to Plymouth State before topping Castleton University 8-1. Mitchell Hale leads the team with five points (three goals, two assists), while Bennett Stockdale, Carson Gallagher and Joey Mancuso all have three points. 

Goaltender Anthony Del Tufo played and started both games, allowing four goals on 43 shots. Jacob Hearne also played a single period against Castleton and stopped all six shots he faced. 

Oswego State won both regular-season games against each team during the 2019-20 season. The Lakers also defeated Plattsburgh during the SUNYAC semifinals. 

“This weekend, Potsdam and Plattsburgh, one of the tougher trips of the year travel-wise — I’m glad we’re doing it early on when the weather’s still decent,” Gosek said. “It all starts (now). … Our first weekend on the road. We were away last Saturday, just a one-gamer. You build camaraderie on the bus, in the hotel, during the meals, at pre-game skate on the road. … Hopefully they’re going to find the energy in that.”

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