The Plattsburgh State men’s hockey team suffered two defeats last weekend in SUNYAC play on its first road trip of the season. With a matchup with the defending national champion looming after Thanksgiving, the Cardinals look to bounce back with a win at North Country rivals SUNY Potsdam this weekend.
“The coaching staff views the Potsdam game as a very urgent game,” PSUC head coach Bob Emery said. “We have got to get back on a winning track.”
Emery acknowledges that getting that win will not be an easy task. The Bears (4-1-1) always play the Cards (2-3-0) very tough, and this weekend’s game, which will be held at Maxcy Hall Arena at 7 p.m. tomorrow evening, will likely be no different.
“We know we are going to get Potsdam’s best game of the year every year,” Emery said. “Over there, they do not care about the rest of the schedule as much as they care about this one game.”
The Potsdam game will be PSUC’s last chance to take some momentum into the Primelink Great Northern Shootout, which begins next Friday with 2016-17 national champion No. 3/4 Norwich University. The tournament, which the Cards have won five times in the last 19 years, features teams with a combined 14 national championships since 1992.
“There are always good teams at the Primelink, and it is always a competitive tournament,” PSUC sophomore defenseman Philip Middleton said. “So we are excited for it, but first is the game against Potsdam.”
With this year’s Primelink tournament being hosted by Middlebury College, who will face off in the first round against Lawrence University next Friday, the Cards looks to earn only their second title in the tournament on the road.
Emery declined to comment on the tournament, however, because he wants to keep the focus on this weekend’s game before shifting his thoughts to the tournament in Vermont.
“Potsdam is the only thing on my mind,” Emery said.
The Cards will hope the Potsdam game and next week’s Primelink tournament will enable them to rebound after two SUNYAC defeats last weekend, losing 5-2 at Brockport and 4-1 at Geneseo.
“We have to realize the way that teams are going to play us, unbelievably defensively,” Emery said. “We have got to find ways to manufacture goals, and we have to do a better job with our puck management to not give up grade-A scoring chances.”
Emery also stressed that the Cards need to play with more “urgency” and get the puck out of the defensive zone in difficult situations.
While this is PSUC’s third consecutive defeat at the hands of Brockport, Middleton believes that there is a lesson to be taken away from the weekend.
“Sometimes you suffer losses to teams like that to find your identity,” Middleton said. “Our identity is to work hard, hit hard and have a lot of passion. That might have lacked a bit this weekend.”
Emery worries that last season’s success after a poor start in the first half of the season may be leading to some complacency among the players.
“We can learn a lot as a team from last year and have a no-quit attitude,” Emery said. “But we cannot just think that we are going to turn it on in the second half like we did last year, and I think there is some of that going on.”
However, Emery said that the Cards have responded well coming out of the weekend, after receiving a Monday off due to their being only one game this weekend.
“Tuesday was probably the best practice we have had all year.”
That is a good sign according to Middleton, who believes that practice is where change will occur.
“It all starts with practice,” Middleton said. “Take it one day at a time, make sure our systems are executed well and hopefully get a win out of it.”
Email Nathanael LePage at firstname.lastname@example.org