Coming off a season in which it failed to reach the SUNYAC semifinals, the Plattsburgh State men’s hockey team has been hard at work preparing for the new season.
The Cardinals took to the ice Saturday in Saratoga for a preseason exhibition against Skidmore College, a game which the Thoroughbreds took by a score of 5-3.
For PSUC head coach Bob Emery, that game was just another part of the overall preseason preparation. He rotated the roster throughout the game so that every skater had the
“We want to win in these exhibition games, don’t get me wrong, but we aren’t playing to win.”
Senior forward Ross Sloan expressed a different mentality.
“Our goal is to go in there to compete and win,” Sloan said. “Obviously, it’s different with guys playing two periods, but that’s no excuse. We didn’t compete in that game. We took the loss because we weren’t good enough.”
The Cards will play another exhibition Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena, this time against St. Michael’s College from across the lake in Colchester, Vermont.
With the Purple Knights being a Division II institution, a regular-season game against them wouldn’t count for PSUC, so Emery was happy to have the opportunity in the preseason.
“We could have a great rivalry with St. Mike’s if they were a Division III school,” Emery said. “We would play them every year twice if they were in Division III.”
Despite the game being another exhibition, Sloan said the team will still be looking for a win ahead of the regular season.
“We’ve established a culture that says ‘losing is not okay,’” Sloan said. “Winning is everything to us. Fans should expect to see Plattsburgh hockey: hard hitting and hard forechecking.”
Last year ended with a loss to SUNY Fredonia at home in the conference semifinals. It was the first time in team history in which the Cards were eligible for playoffs and failed to make the semifinal round.
“I hope our returning players learned what they didn’t do last year,” Emery said.
Sloan was eager to report that he thought the returners came to campus with the right attitude to approach the season.
“We had a goal to come in in-shape,” Sloan said. “Everybody worked their bag off over the summer.”`
Sloan denied the team feeling any additional pressure because of last season, saying any pressure was self-imposed because they have set high goals for themselves.
Emery said that the goal is to be a participant in the NCAA tournament at the end of the year, something only 12 teams get to do each year.
While PSUC graduated only two seniors last season, Emery believes that “everyone is replaceable,” and he has brought in six freshmen and one transfer from Division I’s Niagara University to bolster the Cards’ roster.
Among those freshmen is Daniil Ovchinnikov, a 6-foot-3-inch forward from Saint Petersburg, Russia. Ovchinnikov is the first Russian-born player in the 42-year history of the men’s hockey program at PSUC.
Ovchinnikov hopes to make an impact and help PSUC in whatever way he can.
“I see myself as a power forward,” Ovchinnikov said. “I try to create chances for my team.”
While Emery said he brought in Ovchinnikov because of his notable talent level, Ovchinnikov was quick to point out some areas in which he needs to adjust to the collegiate game.
“I didn’t play too much defense back in juniors,” Ovchinnikov said. “I have started doing a lot of backchecking now. I have to adjust to a faster and tougher game.”
Ovchinnikov’s adjustments represent just one of the ways that the newcomers will need to work to earn their part in Cardinal history.
“Everyone is set to the same standard,” Sloan said. “There’s no easy way for anybody. Everybody has to pull their own weight.”
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