With the score knotted at 3-3, St. Norbert’s Cody Keefer scored the game-winning goal with 39.4 seconds remaining to give the third-ranked Green Knights a 4-3 win over the second-ranked Oswego State men’s ice hockey team in the semifinals of the NCAA Division III Men's Ice Hockey Championships on Friday at Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, N.Y. The Lakers tied the contest on three separate occasions, including Jon Whitelaw’s goal with 2:32 left to play in regulation. Oswego State finished the season with an overall record of 26-3-0, while St. Norbert advanced to the NCAA Championship with a record of 24-3-3 overall.
Few scoring opportunities existed in the first period as both teams gained a feel for each other and the Olympic-size rink. Oswego State went on the only power play of the frame in the early stages, but was unable to apply any pressure. At the end of the penalty, Mike Bernardy (Jr., Sandy, Utah) came out of the penalty box, picked up the puck at neutral ice to create the first scoring chance of the game. He ripped a wrist shot on the breakaway, but Laker goaltender Kyle Gunn-Taylor (Sr., West Seneca, N.Y.) made a right pad save to keep St. Norbert off of the scoreboard.
Late in the period, an Oswego State turnover at neutral ice resulted in Johan Ryd (So., Sodertalje, Sweden) picking up the puck for a 1-on-0 breakaway. He rifled a shot past Gunn-Taylor into the lower right portion of the net to give St. Norbert a 1-0 lead with 1:59 remaining in the first period. The Green Knights turned up the pressure on the Lakers in the waning seconds of the stanza, but the defense was able to keep St. Norbert from scoring as the score stood at 1-0 heading into intermission.
After play went back-and-forth for the majority of the second stanza, Eric Selleck (So., Spencerville, Ontario) carried the puck to the blue line before dumping the pass to Justin Fox (Jr., Whitby, Ontario) on the far right side. Fox laced a cross-ice to Neil Musselwhite (Sr., Burlington, Ontario), who gathered the puck before firing a wrist shot into the upper left-corner of the net over Green Knight goalie B.J. O’Brien’s (Jr., Lakeville, Minn.) stick at 17:14. It was Musselwhite’s 23rd goal of the season as the score was tied at 1-1 after two periods.
Whatever scoring was lacking in the first 40 minutes was made up for in abundance in the final frame. Early in the third, St. Norbert took advantage of an Oswego State boarding penalty when Matt Boyd’s shot for the slot ricocheted off the crossbar into open space where Tyler Allen (Sr., Midhurst, Ontario) flipped the puck into the net at 4:18. Less than a minute later, the Lakers evened the score when Fox received a pass on the right side from Chris Laganiere (Jr., Owego, N.Y). He faked a slap shot near the left face-off circle before sending a wrist shot into the left side of the net at the 5:12 mark.
The Green Knights regained the lead at 7:02 when they capitalized on an Oswego State turnover in the defensive zone. Scott Pulak (Jr., Green Bay, Wis.) fed Sam Tikka (Sr., Soldotna, Alaska) with a pass as he sent an uncontested shot through Gunn-Taylor’s five-hole to make the score 3-2.
Oswego State continued to fight until it tied the game again with 2:32 remaining when Paul Rodrigues (Fr., Etobicoke, Ontario) played the puck from behind the net to Jon Whitelaw (Fr., Huntsville, Ontario), who was in front of the net to pound home the goal.
The game appeared to be headed into overtime until another turnover at center ice lead to Cody Keefer (Fr., Grayling, Mich.) skating in for the breakaway and the game-winning goal with 39.4 seconds remaining on the clock. Head coach Ed Gosek called timeout after the score and pulled Gunn-Taylor for the extra attacker, but the Lakers were unable to put a shot on goal in the final seconds.
Oswego State’s Kyle Gunn-Taylor finished the game with 16 saves as he finished the season with a record of 18-2-0. St. Norbert’s B.J. O’Brien improved to 24-2-3 after registering 20 saves. The Lakers were 0-for-4 on the power play compared to the Green Knights, who were 1-for-2.
-Oswego State ended the year with one of the most successful seasons in school history as it set a new mark for highest winning percentage in school history at .897 after going 26-3-0. The previous mark was .883 (26-3-1), which was set in 1980-81.
-The Lakers are now 2-1-0 all-time against St. Norbert as Oswego State defeated the Green Knights 4-3 in overtime in the 2007 NCAA Semifinals and 4-3 on November 28, 2008 in DePere, Wis.
Photo: Mike LeBoeuf (Oswego Palladium Times)
Story: Oswego State Sports Information