Hockey season has started in Plattsburgh and the team is ready for a new season with a new mentality.
The SUNYAC conference that the Plattsburgh State men’s hockey team is in is going to be a tough one, with the 2014-15 men’s ice hockey preseason poll ranking them third behind Oswego and Geneseo. Head coach Bob Emery said every game this season is going to be a tough one and the road matchups will bring an added difficulty.
He also said the team is going into this season with a different style of play.
“We were looking for guys with a little more heart, a little more grit, and I think we found that in the freshman class to balance off our skill,” Emery said. “Last year, we had too much skill, so we wanted to balance that off a bit.”
The team has a new look this year after losing defenseman Nick Jensen and All-American forward Alex Jensen to a European hockey league, as well as goalie Mathieu Cadieux, All-American defenseman Barry Roytman and forward Ryan Farnan, who were lost to graduation.
The team was able to bring in a large recruiting class with defenseman Andrew Rossy, and sophomore goalie Spencer Finney who will take over between the pipes in place of the two-time All-American Cadieux.
Last year, Cadieux started in net for 25 of the team’s 26 games and made 571 saves on 611 shots, allowing only 40 goals through the season and posting an 18-5-2 record in the net. Finney is a transfer from Colgate College where he played in only three games as a freshman, and Emery said he worked this summer with the goalie coaches to make sure he was ready to play.
On the offensive side, Alex Jensen was the team’s leading scoring with 13 goals, assists leader with 16 and points leader with 29. Roytman was the leading goal scorer on the team’s power play with four.
The main goal for the team this season is to bring more grit to a team that went 19-5-2 last season, losing in the first round of the SUNYAC playoffs to Oswego 2-1.
Senior forward Mark Constantine said the team will have a grittier look this year with the incoming class and a new mindset.
“We have been looking to get tougher and grittier in the corners and in front of the net,” Constantine said.
“I think the freshmen that came in as gritty guys, and the guys who have been here have learned to be grittier.”
Last year, the team was unable to keep its opponents from scoring in a higher percentage in the third period compared to the first and second. The added toughness should help the team stay strong through all three periods.
In this past weekend’s victory against Potsdam, Senior Michael Cassidy scored two goals in the game and Spencer Finney, in his first game of the season, saved 29 shots while allowing a pair of goals.
In the game, PSUC allowed 13 shots on goal in the first period, eight in the second period and 10 in the third. In the first game, the Cards used their stronger offense to limit the shots on goal after the first period. The team was able to keep up its intensity throughout, placing 11 shots on net in the first period, 11 in the second period and 17 in the third for a total of 39, as well as eight more goals than the Bears.
Constantine said the team needs to maintain better control of the puck. In the Potsdam game, he said the team was turning the puck over at a high rate.
This weekend, the Cards are facing Brockport and Geneseo. Emery said Brockport is tough to play and over the years has been a tough team to face.
Last year, the team was able to pull out the win in the last 10 seconds. He also said PSUC will wait to think about Geneseo will the morning they play them.
Brockport this year has gone 0-2 losing to both Hobart and Nazareth and last year the Golden Eagles went 10-13-3. Their top scorer from last year was freshman Jake Taylor, who scored 10 goals.
Constantine said the matchup will be a hard-fought contest against Brockport.
“It I always a tough game there at their place, they always play us hard,” Constantine said. “It’s one of the biggest games of the year and it’s going to be a tough game, battling hard to get a win.”
Email Nick Topping at email@example.com.