***Disclaimer: This is a sports column that solely represents the opinion of the writer.***
The Plattsburgh State men’s hockey team was able to take the No. 1 seed in the SUNYAC, the No. 2 seed in the East out of 51 teams, win the SUNYAC tournament and secure a bye into the second round with home ice for the quarterfinal game.
Or so they thought.
As the week went by, the NCAA said if the women were able to win their quarterfinal game and make it into the Final Four, they would get home ice and the men would have to travel to face either Trinity or Nichols College.
The women would go on to win their quarterfinal game and the women’s Division III NCAA tournament final four was held at Stafford ice arena, costing the men their home ice advantage and robbing the seniors of their chance of getting to play at home one more time before they graduated.
Many times you hear that home ice isn’t the biggest factor and that teams don’t need it to be able to be victorious in their games. This may be true, but it definitely didn’t help the men’s team.
Head coach Bob Emery said he felt terrible for his players because they were devastated on not being able to play the game on their home ice when it was promised to them. To have something like that just taken away from you can affect a team mentally and take away the edge that the team had because they had home ice.
With home ice, they get their home crowd, which is seen as one of the best crowds in Division III. You get more time to practice because you don’t have to travel, and the players have a better understanding of how their ice works.
The Cardinals would have had the advantage because they have said all season that they feed off the energy of their fans. The fans are able to pump up the players and make them want to pull out a win for them.
For a team to get the edge taken away because of poor planning, doesn’t make sense to me. This has been the first time the team has made it to the NCAA tournament since the 2011-12 season and to be able to make it there, get a bye and get home ice advantage is a big thing for the Cardinals.
The team had it unfairly taken away from them because they couldn’t find the time where it would work out for both teams to be at home and be able to play. While I understand the bye is a good thing, in the end it hurt the men.
Another thing Emery had pointed out is that all four teams that made it into the final four this year for the tournament were the home teams in their matchups.
It doesn’t make sense to take something away from a team who earned it by being the No. 1 seed in the SUNYAC, winning the SUNYAC championship, and being the No. 2 seeded team out of the Eastern region.
The team was projected to finish in third in the SUNYAC this year, and they surpassed expectations and earned the right to have the bye and the quarterfinal at home.
The men should have had home ice, there should have been a way to make it work and it’s not fair to the fans, the players, the coaches or anyone else involved to take that away from a team who rightfully deserved it.
Email Nick Topping at firstname.lastname@example.org