The Plattsburgh State men’s hockey team finished off its regular season with two polar opposite performances last weekend.
First, the Cardinals won a close tilt against No. 6 ranked Geneseo 1-0 Friday, and then lost a high scoring affair 8-4 against Brockport Saturday.
PSUC was outshot in both games, getting outshot 26-23 against Geneseo and 39-31 against Brockport. However, the Cards held the advantage in the faceoff circle, winning 38 of 67 faceoffs on Friday and 45 of 73 on Saturday.
With those two performances, PSUC finished the regular season with a 15-9-1 overall record, and a 10-5-1 SUNYAC conference record. This was good enough to earn them a 2nd place finish in the conference overall and a postseason bye into the SUNYAC semi-finals this Saturday.
Senior goalie Brady Rouleau thought there were a lot of positives to take out of that finish after the rough start to the season that the team had, which saw them finish the first semester of play with a 5-5-0 overall record.
“It was a pretty big accomplishment for us, after the first half of the season not looking very good,” Rouleau said. “It’s a thing we can take pride in, and that last stretch of games was nice to have, even if we didn’t finish it off quite like we wanted to.”
The Geneseo game saw Rouleau pick up a 26-save shutout as junior forward Matt Quilty picked up the game’s lone goal to get the Cards’ the 1-0 win.
This win came along with a lot of history between the two teams, as Geneseo ousted PSUC from SUNYAC contention last season in a 7-1 rout.
This was something that was not lost on head coach Bob Emery, who knew that the emotion and energy of Friday’s game may have affected the team’s performance in Saturday’s.
“We didn’t have much left in the tank after the game against Geneseo,” Emery said. “Brockport was playing for a lot more than we were at the time, and it showed. They were hard-working and pesky, and they deserve all the credit in the world for that game.”
The Brockport game saw the Cards get lit up to the tune of eight goals against, five of which came in the second period alone.
Quilty, who also picked up a goal in Saturday’s loss, recognized that the team might have lost focus a bit after Friday’s big win.
“I think we just need to realize that we can’t lose focus for any amount of time,” Quilty said. “I think we were just a little too happy with ourselves from Friday’s game, and the next day we lost concentration for a bit. A couple bounces didn’t go our way, but still, eight goals (allowed) is a big difference.”
Sophomore forwards Jesse Neher, Cam Owens and Cole Stallard all scored goals of their own, as well on Saturday, while freshman forward Joe Drabin had two assists, and senior forward Kyle Hall had an assist in his 100th game with PSUC.
Now, the Cards face Geneseo in the SUNYAC semi-finals this Saturday.
Speaking to him before he knew who the team’s opponent would be, Quilty was confident in their team’s preparation and focus.
“I think we’ll be preparing the same way we have been for the last couple weeks,” Quilty said. “We know that if we don’t make any mistakes that we have enough talent to win games. When we lose focus, we lose our defensive side. We can’t be doing that because when we buy into the defensive system is when it all falls into place.”
Emery felt similarly in that most of the preparation was already done. Now it’s just up to the players to play well.
“It’s exciting to be home, and to get to play in front of the best fans in Div. III,” Emery said. “We’ve been playing pretty good as of late, we’re 10-1-1 in our last 12 games. This late in the year it comes down to who plays the best defensive hockey and whose goalie gets hot. We have to just throw everything at them, play smart and hard, and we’ll see where the chips fall.”
Email Ben Watson at firstname.lastname@example.org