Travis Broughman around a defenseman

Oswego State’s Travis Broughman (right) tries to get around SUNY Canton defender Sean Shepard while entering the offensive zone during the Lakers’ 3-2 win over the Roos Sunday.

OSWEGO — After a tough Saturday game against Augsburg University, the consolation match on Sunday against SUNY Canton proved to be about mental toughness for the Oswego State men’s hockey team. 

Plus, it was also the Lakers’ first week back on the ice after the winter break. That presented some physical fatigue as well, head coach Ed Gosek said.

But, Oswego State “found a way” and took a 3-2 win over Canton to capture third place in the Best Western Clarion Oswego State Hockey Classic. It was the second time the Lakers defeated the Roos this regular season.

“It’s all mental. You come off a tough game, where your expectations are that you’re going to be playing in a championship,” Gosek said. “It was ugly. Just disconnected. … As I said to them, at the end of the season, no one is going to know that it was as ugly as it was. It’s in the win column.”

A lot of it came down to penalties. With the physical tiredness, plus the large amount of “expended energy” against Augsburg the night before, players started reaching with their sticks instead of skating toward opposing players, Gosek added. Mental exhaustion led to some other penalties as well.

For the most part, Oswego State stayed more disciplined than Canton throughout the game. But it was a rough start with Mac Lewis getting called for holding, then a minute later Trent Grimshaw was called for butt-ending with the stick — a game disqualification and five-minute major.

The Lakers already led 2-1 after a rebound goal from Josh LeBlanc and a Travis Broughman breakaway. But the Lewis penalty happened just a couple minutes later, and then Grimshaw’s.

Oswego State killed off the remainder of the period, but still had 1:34 left of the major penalty to kill heading into the second period.

Former Laker Jesse Farabee, now a senior with the Roos, scored on a rebound just a minute into the second period while on the power play to tie the game 2-2.

“Our penalty kill, again tonight, our rotations were off. We were very stagnant,” Gosek said. “We gave them a lot of credit. We didn’t jump to loose pucks. I don’t know if we just didn’t have the energy or guys were playing tentative, afraid to make a mistake, but we’ll move on and get better.”

Garrett Clegg scored the game-winning goal with 15:54 left in the second period on a low wrist shot that found its way past Canton’s Filip Schlyter. 

The Lakers had several chances to expand the lead on the power play, with Canton going to the penalty box seven times in the second and third periods. The final penalty, to Matthew Headland — a five-minute major for checking from behind and a game disqualification — was with just 2.6 seconds left in the game. Jake Mayette also received a game misconduct on the bench at the same time.

“In our own end, our puck choices weren’t good. On our line rushes, how many times did we have the puck right in the slot area looking at the goalie and we pass off?” Gosek said. “Mentally, we just weren’t sharp. … You see it all the time. The layover, the letdown after a big game. We were ripe for the picking and (Canton) didn’t take advantage of it.”

Canton continued to apply pressure, especially late in the game, and rang shots of the post a few times late in the game. Eric Green made 22 saves for the Lakers, including 11 in the third frame.

“Green was better than the last time (against Canton on Dec. 3),” Gosek said. “He tracked the puck better. It looked like he played with more confidence.”

The Lakers (9-4-1, 4-1-1 SUNYAC) continue their tough stretch to open the second half of the season with a trip to No. 3 Utica College Sunday. The Pioneers defeated Oswego State 6-4 earlier this season in an exhibition game at the Deborah F. Stanley Arena on Oct. 16.

“We’ve got three teams in the top five in the next few weeks here, with Geneseo, Utica and Augsburg. It’s not like it’s getting any easier,” Gosek said. “If you want to be the best, you’ve got to play the best. At some point here, we’ve got to get some wins against ranked teams.”