When a hockey game goes to overtime, there are two end results. One team captures a thrilling win and the other suffers a crushing defeat. For the Plattsburgh State men’s hockey team last Saturday, the end result was victory.
In a SUNYAC semifinal matchup, the No. 3 Cardinals (20-3-3, 12-1-3 SUNYAC) defeated Oswego State 4-3 in a hard-fought battle that saw senior forward Michael Radisa score midway through overtime, sending the Stafford Ice Arena into a frenzy.
Radisa’s game-winner propelled PSUC to the SUNYAC championship game, which the Cards will host this Saturday at 7 p.m. as they welcome No. 11 Geneseo.
PSUC’s upcoming matchup presents many challenges, and their most recent game was filled with similar aspects.
Against Oswego, the Cards captured the game’s first goal when freshman forward Jesse Neher found the back of the net eight minutes into the second period. The Lakers, however, responded with two goals during the stanza and possessed a 2-1 lead going into intermission.
Despite being down a goal, PSUC came onto the ice with great energy to start the third period. This energy created quality scoring chances for the Cards, who evened the score when freshman forward Nick Belger ripped a wrist shot past Oswego goaltender Matt Zawadzki seven minutes into the third period. Three minutes later, senior forward Dillan Fox notched a goal of his own, putting PSUC on top 3-2.
The Card’s lead did not last until the final horn, though, as the Lakers scored with just over four minutes remaining in the contest. This goal sent the matchup to overtime, where Radisa scored the game-winning goal, rocketing a shot from the point over the Oswego goaltender’s glove.
All Radisa wanted to do leading up to his goal was put the puck on net.
“I was at the end of a shift, to be honest, and I saw it come out,” Radisa said. “I just kind of put my head down and said ‘I am going to hit this as hard as I can and get off the ice,’ and it actually ended up going over the top of him (goaltender Matt Zawadzki), and as I was on the ice, I just heard it go off the post and everyone erupt.”
Radisa noted how great it felt to see the puck go in the net and know the Cards would be contending for another SUNYAC championship.
The Card’s latest win was their eighth comeback victory this season, and PSUC head coach Bob Emery said his team showed resilience against Oswego.
“Our guys persevered,” Emery said. “We won a lot of games where we came back a lot this year. It’s just another one (last Saturday), and we came back.”
Emery also noted how the Cards played a great team in Oswego last Saturday, acknowledging the Lakers caused PSUC to make mistakes during the game, but at the same time, he said his team was opportunistic and glad to be advancing in the postseason.
“It was just one of those games where someone had to win,” Emery said. “We’re blessed to be moving on.”
Looking ahead to the Cards matchup against Geneseo, the team is focused.
In two previous matchups this season, PSUC lost to the Knights 5-4 at Geneseo and tied their SUNYAC opponent 3-3 in Plattsburgh, which were not the results the Cards wanted, but the team is focusing on the present and not what happened during the regular season.
“Geneseo is one of those teams that has kind of given us a hard time this year,” senior forward Dillan Fox said. “But they will be in our building, though, and there is a trophy on the line, so we will be ready to go.”
Fox said the key to preparing for the game is acknowledging its magnitude and staying composed and focused at the same time.
“I think everyone in their own way will get up for this game no matter what,” Fox said. “It’s just about trying to keep things as normal as possible. We all know what the game has at stake, but it’s just about trying to keep things as normal as possible, and I think we will definitely be ready for Saturday.”
Email Joey LaFranca at firstname.lastname@example.org