Aaron Saul (pictured) debuts as the head coach of his Alma mater Friday night when he brings the Elmira Soaring Eagles into the Campus Center Ice Arena to open the 2009-10 season at Oswego State. Saul left Potsdam, where he had been the head coach for two seasons, to replace Tim Ceglarski who stepped aside after posting 125 wins in eight years on the Elmira bench.
Having began his coaching career in Oswego Sate's SUNYAC conference, Saul is no stranger to the Lakers' four-year-old arena. His upstart Potsdam Bears program ruined senior night in Oswego just eight months ago with a 4-2 victory. Overall, Saul is 1-3-0 against the Lakers, his Bears were outscored 11-1 in the two-game series in 2007-08. They hung even in 2008-09 as Oswego State and Potsdam each lit the lamp four times in the series.
Joining Ceglarski on Friday's 100-mile venture north to the shores of Lake Ontario will be senior goaltender Casey Tuttle. The Presidential Scholar is 2-2-1 in his previous five match-ups against the Lakers, a program he first faced on Dec. 30, 2006 when Oswego State was marching toward a national championship.
Tuttle's last meeting with the Lakers is one he'd surely like to attone for as he allowed six goals on 28 shots in a 6-4 loss in Oswego on Nov. 1, 2008. In all, Tuttle has a 3.16 GAA and a save percentage of 87.8 when facing the green and gold.
Elmira said goodbye to high-scoring Czech forward Jan Velich after the 2008-09 campaign. Velich led the Soaring Eagles with 30 points (11 goals, 19 assists) last season. The 6-4 pivot is perhaps best known by Lakers fans as the guy who butt-ended former Oswego State All-American Brendan McLaughlin in the neck during the last meeting between the two schools. Velich also had three points that night, lighting the lamp in the first before assisting on two scores.
The top returning scorer for Elmira is defenseman Karl Linden. The 6-0 Stockholm native led the team in assists as a sophomore with 22 while four of his seven goals came on the power play. Two of those four PPG came against Oswego in a 3-2 victory last season.
Masters of the Power Play
Nobody found the back of the net for Elmira more than Rusty Masters last year. The senior is coming off of a 14-goal season, including four game-winning markers and ten tallies on the power play. The Lakers may have found a way to frustrate him though, as a third of his penalty minutes for the season came against Oswego State, including one whistle for unsportsmanlike conduct and another for roughing.