After a winless road trip in SUNYAC play, Plattsburgh State’s men’s ice hockey team looks to rebound at home on a weekend featuring bitter rival SUNY Oswego.
The Cardinals (4-6, 2-5) will face off against the No. 4/4 Lakers from SUNY Oswego (6-1-1, 4-0-1), at the Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena at 7 p.m. tomorrow. For the freshmen on the team, this will be their first game in the long-standing rivalry.
“I have heard it is a lot of fun,” PSUC freshman goaltender Jimmy Poreda said. “It is like a playoff game atmosphere in the regular season.”
According to the Twitter account for the PSUC field house, only 125 seats for tomorrow’s game remained unsold on Wednesday morning.
Before that, however, the Cards will play host to the Red Dragons of SUNY Cortland (4-7, 2-5) at 7 p.m. tonight in the Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena.
“We know we have got to come out and put last weekend behind us,” Poreda said.
With the rivalry game looming tomorrow, the players need to maintain focus on tonight’s game.
“The boys are already talking about [Oswego] and looking forward to it,” Poreda said. “Coach is trying to keep our heads on the Cortland game first.”
PSUC head coach Bob Emery, speaking on Wednesday, felt the team can’t afford to think even that far ahead.
“I don’t think with a record of 4-6 you can look past anybody,” Emery said. “You can’t look past tomorrow’s practice.”
The Cards are under pressure to win both games this weekend to end the semester with an even record after they dropped two games last week.
“We can go over all the Xs and Os you want,” Emery said. “But we didn’t show a lot of character.”
The weekend started poorly for PSUC in a 7-1 Friday evening loss to the Buffalo State Bengals.
“We got down by two goals early, and I think there was a little quit in the team,” Emery said.
Emery decided to change goaltenders after giving up those two goals in nine minutes, bringing Poreda off the bench.
“I was just hoping to come in and provide a little bit of a stoppage,” Poreda said. “In the second period, we came out and gave up a shorthanded goal, so it just snowballed from there.”
PSUC freshman netminder Lawson Fenton was the goaltender of record in the loss despite playing only the first nine minutes of the game and giving up only two of the seven goals against.
After the blowout loss, the Cards needed to recover quickly for their Saturday evening faceoff at SUNY Fredonia. For much of the first period in Steele Hall, it appeared that PSUC had done exactly that.
“We came out good in the first period and got a two-goal lead,” Emery said. “We gave up a bad goal to Fredonia in that first period, and then they came out of the locker room and got two quick goals.”
Emery cited that first-period goal for the Blue Devils as a turning point in a game that ended with a 7-4 defeat.
“The first period is the most important period,” Emery said. “When you get teams down, you have to step on them, for lack of a better term.”
As Emery had expected, injuries were a concern on the weekend.
“We were not healthy last weekend,” Emery said. “We had three top forwards out, but that is no excuse.”
Emery confirmed that several PSUC players would be out due to injury for this weekend’s games.
One positive aspect of last weekend was freshman forward Rich McCartney, whose three goals in Fredonia marked his second hat trick on the season
“It was nice to find some chemistry with Antoine [Desnoyers] and Jesse [Neher],” McCartney said. “I thought we did well in the offensive zone at times, but our defensive play wasn’t where it needed to be. But [the hat trick] is definitely not the same after a loss”.
McCartney feels that he has adapted well to collegiate hockey and credits the input of one 2016 PSUC alumus.
“I heard a lot from Dillan Fox,” McCartney said. “He gave me an idea of what to expect here at Plattsburgh, so he helped me with my transition from the junior to collegiate level.”
For Emery, McCartney’s success in goalscoring is a sign that the forward is doing his job on the ice.
“The name of the game is scoring goals,” Emery said. “It is a good thing [McCartney] has been, because a lot of other people haven’t.”
For Emery, those struggles are exactly why this weekend is such an important one for the Cards.
“We want to end the semester on a good note,” Emery said. “It has been a tough semester, but it is nothing we can’t dig ourselves out of. We just have to put the work in.”
Email Nathanael LePage at firstname.lastname@example.org