The Plattsburgh State men’s hockey team, who won the 2017 PrimeLink Great Northern Shootout, placed last at the 2018 edition of the annual tournament. The Cardinals lost to No. 2 Adrian College 5-2 Saturday at Norwich University’s Kreitzberg Arena.
It was an uphill battle for PSUC (3-3-1) right from the start, as Adrian (8-2) built a 2-0 lead within five minutes of the opening faceoff. From that point on, it was the Cards who were on the front foot, as they outshot the Bulldogs 30-26 in the game.
PSUC head coach liked the improvement after Friday’s loss to Middlebury College, but was concerned with the way his team came out of the locker room Saturday.
“Other than the first five minutes, that could have been our best 55 minutes of hockey,” Emery said. “We literally gave them two goals on a silver platter, and we can’t do that.”
The game was freshman goaltender Brandon Wells’ first start in net for the Cards. Despite the early two-goal deficit, Emery said Wells played well for PSUC.
“I believe in this group, and I’m trying to gain their trust,” Wells said. “I think it was big for me to hold my composure and make the next couple saves to get the momentum going our way.”
The Cards nearly found the back of the net a minute and a half later, as senior forward Cam Owens made a pass to sophomore forward Rich McCartney on a two-man breakaway before McCartney was denied by Adrian goaltender Kevin Entmaa.
“Their goalie played well,” Emery said. “He made some great saves.”
The game continued the theme of special-teams struggles, as the PSUC powerplay was zero-for-five on the game, making the Cards 0-for-17 in their four-game losing streak.
Despite that lack of success, Emery saw some improvement.
“It’s hard to make a lot of changes to your powerplay when you don’t have a practice,” Emery said. “I think coach Moffatt made some tweaks to the powerplay, and it looked a little better tonight.”
PSUC got onto the scoreboard early in the second period, as McCartney scored 43 seconds after the game resumed, with senior forward Ryan Kuhn recording the primary assist.
Kuhn received a pass from junior forward Joe Drabin at the blue line and sent a short pass to McCartney, streaking into the zone, putting McCartney in alone against Entmaa.
“I just touched the puck to Rich, and he did the rest,” Kuhn said. “That was a nice individual effort by him.”
Kuhn showed his defensive abilities five minutes later, as he dove in front of an Adrian shot that was heading toward a wide-open net.
While the Bulldogs led 3-1 after two periods, McCartney once again got a tally early in a frame, with Kuhn doing the hard work this time.
Only 21 seconds into the third period, Kuhn forced a turnover behind the Adrian net and got the puck to McCartney in the slot for an easy goal.
“I thought all night, our forecheck was good,” Kuhn said. “Their D looked like they were panicking, so we talked after the second [period] about keeping two forwards high on the forecheck and make them turn the puck over Sure enough, on the first shift the guy just coughs it right up to me.”
Emery said that Kuhn’s effort on the play was an example of something PSUC did well in Saturday’s game.
“Where I was really impressed by our forwards was in how they played without the puck,” Emery said. “They really hunted pucks down, they made the other team rush and caused a lot of turnovers.”
A goal off a two-on-one rush by Adrian’s Dino Balsamo restored the two-goal cushion for the Bulldogs, and an empty-net goal by Trevor Boyd sealed Adrian’s victory.
With the Plattsburgh State women’s hockey team losing 1-0 to Adrian at the Panther/Cardinal Classic in Middlebury, Vermont, it was a rare instance of both of Plattsburgh State’s teams losing to an opponent from the same college on the same day.
Despite the loss, Wells was quick to point out that there were positives to be taken from the game.
“Our group can beat the top teams in this league,” Wells said. “We just skated with Adrian. We hit some posts, and we had some bad bounces. It easily could have been a different game.”
After the loss, the Cards return home Friday at 7 p.m. to host Buffalo State in a SUNYAC contest before playing SUNY Fredonia Saturday night, also in the Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to focus back on SUNYAC games,” McCartney said. “We’re still 3-0-1 in the SUNYAC.”
PSUC will enter the conference matches looking to snap it’s three-game losing streak. McCartney, who was named to the PrimeLink tournament’s all-tournament team, doesn’t think the team is very far away from doing just that.
“I think the effort’s there, and we have the talent,” McCartney said. “We’ve just got to put all the pieces to the puzzle together.”
Email Nathanael LePage at email@example.com