Blue Devils stun No. 8 Lakers

Fredonia State freshman forward Hunter Long scored on a deflection to lift the Blue Devils to a 3-2 overtime win over the No. 8 Oswego Lakers, 3-2, in the men’s hockey season-opener for both SUNYAC teams..

“It’s always nice to start off a season with a big OT win over a good hockey team,” Fredonia State head coach Jeff Meredith said. “I think the best thing for us was the fact that our guys just stayed right with the way we wanted to play. We have a lot of confidence and we had a lot of confidence coming into (Friday).”

Long was stationed in front of the net to redirect a quick, short shot by senior forward Matt Owczarczak with 28 seconds left in overtime. Senior forward Alex Perkins set up Owczarczak with a pass from outside the right circle.

“I would just say we want our forwards to play creatively,” Meredith said. “It took us a while to get to that point. I thought the third period was our best period and I thought we were able to play that way.”

Sophomore defenseman Mitch Kaufmann and sophomore Chad Bennett also scored for the Blue Devils, while freshman goaltender Christopher Eiserman made 38 saves.

Eiserman kept the Blue Devils in the game in the first period as the Lakers swarmed on offense, first in a 5-on-5 and then on a power play. Fredonia State had two power-play chances of their own late in the period, yet were turned aside by Oswego goaltender Justin Gilbert, who finished with 26 saves.

After the scoreless first period, the teams combined for three goals in the second period.

Oswego broke through on a goal by Shawn Hulshof at the 4:36 mark of the second period. His shot from the left circle beat Eiserman through the five-hole, one of the few misplays by the Blue Devil freshman.

Kaufmann scored Fredonia State’s first goal of the season and pulled the teams even at 1-1 following a 3-on-1 Blue Devil rush. Long and Owczarczak were credited with assists on the goal, which came at 7:15 of the second period.

Oswego scored with 48 seconds left in the period on a wrap-around by Brandon Adams. The Lakers took a 2-1 lead into the dressing room plus the momentum of scoring so late in the period. Yet the score stayed that way until Bennett, standing in the crease on a Blue Devil power play, deflected a shot from the point by sophomore defenseman Ryan Wilkinson with 4:08 left in regulation.

It was the only power-play goal of the game by either team – Fredonia State was 1 of 5, and Oswego 0 of 3.

The Blue Devils had two good scoring chances during overtime before they cashed in on the goal by Long.

The Blue Devils, unranked nationally and the fifth-place pick in the pre-season poll of SUNYAC coaches, ended an 11-game regular-season losing streak to Oswego. The only other bring spot during that span was a 2-1 Blue Devil win during the 2011 SUNYAC Tournament.

Fredonia State is back in action 7 p.m. Saturday at Cortland, which dropped its season-opener Friday to Buffalo State.

“It’s a big game (today),” Meredith said. “If we go in with anything other than a top effort, we’ll end up taking it in the shorts.”