A third-period, two-goal lead was too hot to handle for the Bowdoin men’s ice hockey team Thursday.

David Titanic and Mike Montagna scored goals 38 seconds apart midway through the third period to knot the score and Titanic made a brilliant backhand pass to Alex Botten with 2:20 to play in regulation to lead Oswego State to a wild, 4-3 come-from-behind win over the Polar Bears in the first round of the NCAA Division III men’s ice hockey tournament in Oswego, N.Y.

The loss caps a run of postseason success on the road for Bowdoin (17-9-2), which won the NESCAC tournament with consecutive wins against No. 4 Middlebury, No. 1 Trinity and No. 2 Amherst, all on the road.

With the game deadlocked and the time ticking away, Titanic drove into the Bowdoin zone and appeared to run out of room, forced wide by the Polar Bears’ defense. But he found a seam as he crossed the goal line to the right of the cage and flicked the puck back into the low slot, where Botten finished with authority to lift the Lakers into the next round.

Oswego State (21-6-2), the SUNYAC champion, has reached the NCAA Division III championship game each of the past two seasons. The Lakers advance to face Babson College on the road Sunday for a berth in the Division III Frozen Four, being held this year at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.

The pace was furious in the early part of the first period, with both teams trying to snag the momentum.

Thanks in part to the goaltenders, neither team succeeded.

Oswego State’s best chance in the opening stanza came late on a rebound in front of Bowdoin goalie Max Fenkell, but the keeper stuck out his left pad just in time. Oswego fans behind the net had already started celebrating, but they quieted quickly as the Polar Bears broke out in the other direction, forcing Lakers’ backstop Matt Zawadski to make his best stop of the first, a sharp glove save on a point-blank shot from the low slot.

The Lakers got the scoring started in the second, thanks to their power play. Botten put the home team on top at 6:04 of the second with help from Matt Galati and Nick Rivait. The Lakers continued to press hard after their goal and thought they’d added another, but officials waved off an apparent goal after they lost sight of the puck and blew the play down.

Late in the second, the Polar Bears made them pay as Jay Livermore equalized at 18:57, sending the game into the third frame tied at 1-1.

Matt Rubinoff gave the Polar Bears their first lead of the game, converting a turnover at the Lakers’ blue line into a goal at 3:46 of the final frame. With Oswego State trying to exit its zone, Rubinoff snagged the puck at the top of the right circle. He walked in to the faceoff dot, used a Laker defender as a screen and roofed the puck to Zawadski’s glove side for the goal.

The goal capped a furious opening few minuted of the third frame. The Lakers began the frame on a power play, but found themselves on the defensive. A shorthanded bid from Bowdoin clanged off the pipe behind the keeper only about a minute before Rubinoff’s tally.

Harry Matheson pounced on a rebound at the top of the crease at 6:32 to push the Bowdoin lead to 3-1 after Zawadski had trouble handling a Kyle Lockwood shot from the opposite side.

The Lakers stormed back after calling a timeout. Titanic floated a shot past Fenkell at 8:21 of the third to pull the Lakers within one, and Montagna added another 38 seconds later from a near-impossible angle to the right of the cage to again knot the game.


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