Oswego’s stout goaltending stalls women’s hockey


Dave DeLuca/The Record

Sophmore forwarde Erin Gehen finished the season as Buffalo State’s scoring leader with 27 points, tallying 17 goals and 10 assists.

Louie DiBiase, Reporter

A historic season has come to a quick, unsatisfying end for the Buffalo State women’s hockey team.

After a record 18 wins and the first home playoff game in program history, the season came to an end as the team was shutout by the Oswego Lakers, 5-0, Saturday afternoon.

You could feel a sense of disappointment cast over the entire locker room after the game. It was a successful season for the program, but the end result wasn’t what the team was hoping for.

“I feel great with our improvements, but we aren’t satisfied,” sophomore goaltender Justine Silva said. “We won’t be satisfied until we have a national championship under our belt.”

Nothing seemed to go Buffalo State’s way early on and Oswego controlled the puck in the offensive zone for most of the first period.

Buffalo State struggled to stay out of the penalty box as two tripping calls 35 seconds apart, handed Oswego the momentum.

During the 5-on-3 power play, junior Oswego defenseman Alli Ulrich beat Silva’s glove side high to give Oswego the 1-0 lead.

Buffalo State came back with some chances of their own as Erin Gehen appeared to have scored on the power play, but the referees called the goal back as senior forward Nikki Kirchberger apparently interfered with Oswego goaltender Tori Travato.

A flurry of scoring chances followed the no goal for Buffalo State, but Travato kept the Bengals off the board by making several tough stops. Her rebound control withheld Buffalo State from finishing their opportunities.

Travato stopped all 32 shots and was the most valuable player for Oswego.

“Their goalie played on her head. It is really difficult running into a hot goalie like Travato,” Gehen said.

Oswego would score two more goals before the first period ended. Both goals took awkward bounces which caught Silva off guard.

Silva stopped 22 of 27 shots on the night, but the struggles were shared by her and the defensive units.

Oswego defenders would often have open shots from the point and the defensemen often found themselves close to the net, creating unwanted traffic for Silva.

The offense had its opportunities in the second and third period, however Travato was able to clearly see most of the shots that came her way as the Bengals struggled to get traffic in the offensive zone.

Buffalo State junior defenseman and team captain Viivi Vaattovaara felt the team’s inability to get past Travato and capitalize on their opportunities was the most debilitating factor in the loss.

“We had a rough start to the game and their goalie really stood on her head,” she said. “We controlled the game for the most part, but we just couldn’t capitalize on our chances and put the puck in the net. Playoff hockey is rough and anything can happen. It just didn’t work out in our favor.”

Oswego’s defense did a great job clearing the crease, effectively preventing any second or third opportunities in the final period. Buffalo State’s frustration was evident late in the game.

Tensions rose as the game grew on. A number of skirmishes started up in front of the net. However, somewhat surprisingly, the referees refrained from making any penalty calls after the first period despite a number of potential tripping and boarding plays along the boards.

After an empty-netter with under a minute to go, head coach Candice Moxley and the team watched as Oswego celebrated their victory – a moment they likely won’t be able to forget until next season starts up.

For players like senior forward Nikki Kirchberger and senior defenseman Allison Mish however, this was the last time they would ever put on a Buffalo State jersey.

There are still many positives to take from this season: a program-high in wins, a home playoff game, a coach that won ECAC West coach of the year and a goaltender that won Co-Defensive Player of the Year in the ECAC West are just a few bright spots of the historic season.

“The body of work our team was able to accomplish this year will be pivotal in the future success of our program,” Moxley said.

“We are a young team that has to make strides each year, setting new expectations and program firsts. Once we get over the early end of our season, we can look back and learn from our mistakes to use for next season.”

With the main core of players in place for years to come, the Buffalo State women’s hockey team will be a preseason favorite to compete for the ECAC West championship next season.

The 2015-16 season will be seen as the start of what could be a special run for the women’s hockey team.

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