PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. – The regular season ended on a sour note as the nationally-ranked No. 4 Plattsburgh State men's hockey team suffered a 4-3 loss to No. 12 Oswego State in a State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) matchup Saturday night at the Stafford Ice Arena.
Saturday's wild matchup added another chapter to the well-documented rivalry between the Cardinals and the Lakers. An evenly-matched first period left both sides scoreless and Plattsburgh State with a slim 8-7 advantage in shots on goal after the first 20 minutes of play.
Plattsburgh State grabbed the momentum just 26 seconds into the second period with Michael Radisa giving the Cardinals a 1-0 lead. Shortly after a Plattsburgh State power play had expired, Radisa brought a loose puck around the back of the net and poked the puck past the left skate of Oswego State goaltender Justin Gilbert to put the Cardinals on the board.
The game-changing moment of the night came with 2:10 gone in the second when Plattsburgh State's Ryan Farnan and Oswego State's Alex Botten collided at center ice. The play resulted in a five-minute major and a game misconduct on Farnan, giving the Lakers an opportunity to even the score.
Oswego State scored the equalizer on the power play at the 4:45 mark after a cross-ice pass from Stephen Johnson found Mike Montagna in the left circle. Montagna's one-timer from a sharp angle found its way through the legs of Mathieu Cadieux to make it a 1-1 game.
The Lakers continued to take advantage of the long power play when Andrew Barton deflected Bobby Gertsakis' shot from just inside the blue line to give Oswego State a 2-1 lead.
The Cardinals came firing back at the 8:27 mark of the second period on Radisa's second of the night from Michael Cassidy. Radisa took a feed from Cassidy, made a move around an Oswego State defenseman and tuck a shot under the crossbar to tie it at 2-2.
Plattsburgh State regained the lead 53 seconds later when Alex Brenton ripped a shot from the left point that sailed past Gilbert to put the Cardinals up 3-2. Brenton's 12th of the year signaled the end of Gilbert's night as the Lakers made the switch for freshman netminder Matt Zawadski.
The change in goal may have been the spark the Lakers were looking for as the see-saw battle shifted in favor of Oswego State when Botten beat Cadieux with a shot from the top of the right circle to knot the score at 3-3 at the 12:57 mark of the second.
Despite outshooting the Lakers 13-6 in the third period, the Cardinals were unable to solve Zadwadski as the game remained tied at 3-3 until late in the third. With 2:20 left in regulation, Oswego State's Brandon Adams worked his way around a Cardinal defender and punched a shot through the five-hole of Cadieux to hand the Lakers a 4-3 lead.
Plattsburgh State pulled Cadieux with 1:06 left in the game, but the Cardinals failed to get the goal they need to force overtime.
Cadieux made 16 saves in the loss for the Cardinals. Zawadski was credited with the win for the Lakers, stopping all 22 shots he faced. Gilbert finished with 11 saves for Oswego State.
With the loss, the Cardinals close out the regular season with a 19-4-2 record overall and a 12-2-2 mark in the SUNYAC. The Lakers improve to 17-6-2 on the year and 10-5-1 in conference play.
Prior to Saturday's game, the Cardinals honored WIRY's Ducky Drake, the voice of Cardinal Hockey for the past 40 years. Plattsburgh State relived some of Drake's famous calls with a pregame video. The Cardinals also wore special jerseys for warm-ups with Drake's name and the number 40 to celebrate his time with the program. Drake was presented with a framed jersey and was on-hand for a ceremonial puck drop before returning to the press box to broadcast his final regular season game.
Plattsburgh State also recognized seniors Barry Roytman, Nick Jensen, Ryan Farnan, Sam Foley and Mathieu Cadieux in a brief pregame ceremony. Over the last four years, the Cardinals have posted a winning percentage of 75 percent, won two SUNYAC titles and made two appearances in the NCAA Tournament.
Geneseo defeated Fredonia, 6-3, to win the SUNYAC regular season crown and claim the top seed in the SUNYAC Tournament. The Cardinals enter the postseason as the No. 2 seed and receive a first-round bye with the Ice Knights. Oswego State and Buffalo State will host SUNYAC Quarterfinal games on Wednesday night as the No. 3 and 4 seeds, respectively. Brockport claimed the fifth seed by skating to a 3-2 win over Fredonia while the Blue Devils still make the postseason as the No. 6 seed despite the loss. Fredonia will travel to Oswego State while Brockport makes the trip to Buffalo State for the SUNYAC Quarterfinals.
The Cardinals return to action Saturday, March 1 for a SUNYAC Semifinal game set for 7 p.m. at the Stafford Ice Arena. Plattsburgh State will host the highest remaining seed after Wednesday's quarterfinal matchups. Visit gocardinalsports.com throughout the week for the latest news and information regarding the SUNYAC Men's Hockey Tournament.