After falling in the very first regular season game, the Plattsburgh State men’s hockey team looks to bounce back with a pair of games against a conference foe this weekend.
At 7 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday, the Cardinals (0-1-0) will face off against the Mustangs of Morrisville State College (0-0-2) in the Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena. With the Cards in search of their first win of the season, they hope it will come against this SUNYAC opponent.
The Mustangs enter the weekend coming off of two ties against Manhattanville College and Stevenson University on the back of SUNYAC Goaltender of the Week, Jared Young. Young made a total of 81 saves out of 85 shots in those two games.
PSUC sophomore defenseman Antoine Fournier is confident the team can get good results against the Mustangs.
“We’ve just got to approach it like any other game,” Fournier said. “If we stick to our game plan, I think we should have a good game.”
Fournier added that playing one opponent twice in the same weekend makes preparation easier on the Cards.
“We’re going to focus more on what that team does,” Fournier said. “On the [penalty kill] we’ll focus more on what they’re doing on the powerplay, so we can counter that. Same thing with our defensive play. We know what their forecheck is going to be, so we can put the emphasis on that to make sure we’re ready for those games.”
That emphasis on defensive play will be important to a PSUC team that struggled in that area last weekend.
Despite preseason victories of 5-1 over Skidmore College and 9-2 over CÉGEP André-Laurendeau, the Cards officially began the 2017-2018 men’s ice hockey season with a 4-3 defeat against the Kangroos of SUNY Canton. The Cards will look to correct the mistakes that allowed the ‘Roos to take a 2-0 lead just 99 seconds into the game.
“The first goal was a two-on-one,” freshman goaltender Jimmy Poreda said. “The guy made a really good pass; I think it went under our defenseman’s stick.
I got over, I think I did what I wanted to do and didn’t give him a lot of net to shoot at. He just beat me.”
While acknowledging the effort by the Canton goalscorer on the play, Poreda did not hesitate to put some emphasis on the Cards’ defensive errors that led to those offensive opportunities for the Kangaroos.
“We’ve got to eliminate the turnovers,” Poreda said. “There were a couple of costly turnovers. A couple times they just beat us out wide or there was a lack of communication in front of the net and a guy was open.”
PSUC head coach Bob Emery concurred with this assessment that the defensive play was not up to the standard he expects.
“We’ve got to be more responsible,” Emery said. “The name of the game is keeping pucks out of your net.”
The team is preparing to face an opponent with a solid goaltender, and Emery said that this adds to the importance of playing good defensive hockey.
“The way the game of hockey is played now, and with the size of the goalies, and the goalie equipment, you’ve got to be prepared to win the game 1-0,” Emery said. “We didn’t do that in the first game. We gave up two goals in a minute and a half.”
Emery added that giving up the early lead to Canton allowed the Kangaroos to make the remainder of the game even more difficult for the Cards.
“It’s tough to play catch-up,” Emery said. “Teams will play differently with the lead against us. Obviously, Canton played very tight defensively with the lead.”
In Emery’s opinion, the goals allowed were not because of insufficient play in net.
“We can’t leave [the goaltender] hanging out to dry and give up the quality of chances we did,” Emery said. “We gave up two-on-ones and breakaways; You won’t win a lot of games doing that.”
While defense is a priority in PSUC’s effort to recover from the loss, Emery added that discipline is also a major problem.
“We didn’t take a lot of penalties in that game, but we took some dumb penalties,” Emery said. “I’m very concerned about the bad penalties we took. There’ll be some ramifications from those.”
Beyond the defensive issues and penalty troubles, Emery was content with what he saw out of his team on the offensive end of the ice, but there is still room to improve.
“I’ve nothing to take away from Canton; They played a great defensive game,” Emery said. “We put up 47 shots, and they blocked another 20, so our offense was there. I’d like to see us find a way to get one or two more goals, even if they’re dirty and greasy.”
Email Nathanael LePage at email@example.com