The race for the top seed in the SUNYAC conference went down to the wire with the No. 1 seed being decided on the final game of the season. The Plattsburgh State men’s hockey team beat Cortland while Oswego lost to Potsdam, giving PSUC the top seed in the SUNYAC conference.
While the players feel like getting the top seed and home field advantage for the tournament is exciting, junior forward Luke Baleshta said the tournament basically starts a new season for the Cardinals.
“We can’t look at it like we are going in playing a fourth or fifth seed, it is a game, and it doesn’t matter who you play,” Baleshta said. “It is going to be a playoff atmosphere, do or die, we can’t lose another game and that’s the way both teams are going to look at it.”
Baleshta also said that playing in the playoffs in college compared to juniors is a huge difference. He said in juniors there are seven game series, but here it’s one loss and done. He said the played needs to be ready on every play and play their hearts out to pull out wins.
Senior forward Mark Constantine said that while the seeding PSUC got is nice, the team can’t get too high on being the top seed.
“You can’t let it go to your head because every team is going to be gunning for the No. 1 team,” Constantine said. “It is good to celebrate while we can, so it was a nice weekend, but it is in the past now and you just have to look toward the future.”
One of the most important things the Cards get from being the top seed is being able to stay home and be more rested than other teams coming here.
Baleshta said being home brings the fans out. He said the fans come to the Oswego game by bus to watch the Cards play, which amazed the team.
Junior forward Connor Gorman said another advantage of being home is the ability to get more rest and prepare more.
“I know a lot of guys, we like road trips, but at the same time, being on the bus for a long time isn’t so fun,” Gorman said. “I think having it home here and getting that extra day of practice here on our home ice is really going to help us.”
Constantine said the team is going to practice the same way they do for every game they have this season and it doesn’t matter who the opponent is. The team is going to practice the same going into Saturday that all season: practicing PSUC style of play and playing their game.
Baleshta said the team needs to keep doing what got them here.
“At this stage in the season, I think it is kind of tough to find a way to get better,” Baleshta said. “You can always expand on the things we have been trying to work on and try to get better all year, so stuff like getting the puck in deep, forechecks and stuff like that. Hopefully we will be all right.”
Baleshta also has an interesting take on how he looks at the playoffs and the season.
“The way I look at it is, the regular season is somewhat of exhibition style because it is now do or die for everybody,” Baleshta said.
Email Nick Topping at firstname.lastname@example.org