There are hockey games, and then there's what happens when the Oswego and Plattsburgh men's hockey teams renew a rivalry that dates back decades -- with the Lakers' 3-0 win Friday extending the #OzWhiteout tradition.

When the Lakers and Cardinals resumed what Sports Illustrated once referred to as one of the best under-the-radar rivalries in college sports on Friday, Nov. 8, most of a sold-out arena plus fans and alumni following across the globe via WTOP and WNYO enjoyed Oswego continuing its undefeated season.

The pinnacle of Whiteout Weekend -- where Laker fans are encouraged to wear white and voice their support of the home team -- is more than a hockey game. It’s one of the biggest on-campus events of the year, and a tradition that spans a sporting event.

That the Lakers and Cardinals regularly vie for the pinnacle of the SUNYAC conference hockey standings and a spot in the NCAA Division III playoffs is the most obvious flashpoint, but the roots run much deeper.

Storied rivalry

Longtime fans will point to 1980 for the true beginning of the rivalry, when the Cardinals hired away Herb Hammond, then the popular and successful Oswego coach who laid the foundation for the program’s perennial contendership. And while Laker fans have long since forgiven the late, likable Hammond, Plattsburgh has remained enemy territory.

But 1987, when the Lakers made their first extended run in the NCAA Championship Tournament, likely sealed the deal. Just to get a playoff bid, a relentless Oswego squad beat Hamilton and future NHL all-star goaltender Guy Hebert 5-4 in two overtimes in the ECAC Tournament. (Working radio for Oswego that season was broadcasting standout Steve Levy, now a SportsCenter anchor.)

In the Frozen Four, a green and gold squad looking for a miracle traveled past Lake Placid to Plattsburgh and beat USA gold-medal winning coach Herb Brooks and his St. Cloud State squad 5-2 to reach the finals and face Plattsburgh again. The Red Menace made sure Laker fans wouldn’t see a happy ending, winning 8-3 to claim the national championship. However, Plattsburgh would later be forced to vacate that title for rules violations.

Plattsburgh also closed out Oswego’s legendary Romney Field House with a victory in the SUNYAC Championships in 2006, thanks in part to a penalty against an Oswego fan for throwing a bagel -- in a since-discontinued tradition -- onto the ice.

In the first year of what is now Marano Campus Center, and the beginning of the Whiteout Weekend tradition, Oswego finally achieved its own national championship by beating Middlebury 4-3 in an overtime thriller in 2007. The Lakers and Cardinals continue to pursue their next national championship, and more often than not find themselves battling each other for a spot in the big dance to make that happen.

To add tension, Plattsburgh has thrived in the Oswego contests despite the huge home support, making a Laker win even more meaningful. It's early in a promising season for the Lakers, but the old sports cliche applies: You can throw the records out when these two teams play, because they tend to deliver a taut, fast-moving game.

Coming together

Starting hours before the 7 p.m. puck drop, white-clad Oswego students will start lining up for first crack at their general-admission spots for the game, which sells out every year. They entertain themselves with games, food, songs, chants and stories during the wait as the line stretches all the way to the Poucher Wing in the other side of the building.

“There’s a line out the door waiting just to get in. … We were on line for about three hours before they let us come in,” 2016 graduate Alyssa Levenberg, now marketing coordinator for CultureFly, said in her “Alyssa Explains It All” video blog on the tradition. For future students, she advised: “I never liked hockey before I came here, so if you don’t like hockey now or you never really thought of liking hockey, you might like it. It’s actually really entertaining."

Kwame Belle, a 2012 graduate who is now an account executive for BerlinRosen, presented the excitement as part of his SUNY Oswego Bucket List video series. “This is the most intense atmosphere I’ve ever been in,” he said in his video blog. “Coming to these games is important. I think this is the best game I’ve ever been to and one of the best experiences I’ve had in Oswego, period.”

Lou Borrelli -- a 1977 alumnus, longtime pioneering broadcasting executive and founder of what is now known as the college's Lewis B. O’Donnell Media Summit -- told Belle he and many other alumni come back for Whiteout Weekend because it’s a “signature event … it’s truly a community event. The students are out in force, and you have a lot of members of the community. … Two of the best programs in the country, why wouldn’t you come back?”

The #OzWhiteout hashtag is usually the most posted of the whole year, as Laker fans take to social media to connect with other fans and express school pride.

For those who have never attended an #OzWhiteout game before, 2019 graduate Kristen Beyer, who is now a digital marketing producer for The Digital Hyve, even assembled a video with tips and tricks for those who want to get the most of it.

For even more footage of fans talking about the school spirit and togetherness the event creates, check out the #OzWhiteout: More than a game video.