Brannon Butler (23) celebrates with Ryan Poorman (73) after beating Poorman’s old team, Norwich, in the LayerEight Shootout title game Nov. 24.
By Collin Bolebruch
Plattsburgh Cardinals men’s hockey is back where it should be. Plattsburgh is back to its old ways, defending not only its No. 1 spot, but the sanctity of the Great Northern Shootout.
The Cards defeated St. Olaf 2-1 Nov. 24 and No. 11 Norwich 2-1 Nov. 25 en route to its first back-to-back LayerEight Shootout title. Plattsburgh’s last game against Norwich was a 1-2 overtime defeat in the first round of the NCAA playoffs.
The weekend effort earned the Cardinals its first third-straight week at U.S. College Hockey Online’s No. 1 since 2013. USCHO gave Plattsburgh 18 of 20 first-place votes. Pairwise has Plattsburgh at No. 2, behind St. Scholastica.
The St. Olaf Oles are the only western team the Cardinals will face in the regular season. In the teams’ first-ever matchup, Plattsburgh held the advantage.
St. Olaf committed a tripping penalty with just over three minutes remaining in the first period. The Cards made quick work, as forward Tio D’Addario passed to defenseman Lonan Bulger at the point, who assisted forward Bennett Stockdale outside the crease for the first goal of the night just 15 seconds after the start of the power play.
Plattsburgh has been strong on power plays this year, scoring on 11 of 34 chances, to opponents’ three of 39. Penalty kills have also been a strong suit, giving the Cards a strong advantage with a player in the box. It killed all five of St. Olaf’s chances.
“We’d rather play with fire and trust our penalty kill. We’ve got a wicked penalty kill,” forward Luk Jirousek said. “We want to play with a jump in our step. It’s all right if we take an odd penalty here and there.”
Stockdale scored the wrap-around game-winner with five minutes left in the second. Defenseman Brannon Butler and forward Thomas Maia put Stockdale in position to lose his defender, both credited with assists. This is Stockdale’s second multi-goal game of the season and is tied for seventh in the country in scores.
Plattsburgh declares itself No. 1 while posing with the Shootout cup at home.
Plattsburgh and Norwich faced off in a much-anticipated rematch.
The loss left a bad taste in many of the veterans’ mouths. Getting the Cadets back in the first rematch made the win that much sweeter.
“It felt really good. It meant a lot to a lot of guys on our team this year,” Stockdale said. “It’s good to get them back.”
Defenseman Ryan Poorman played in both rivalry games —once as a Cadet, and once as a Cardinal. Poorman transferred from Norwich to Plattsburgh over the summer to provide experience at the position.
Poorman recorded a season high in shots — three — against his former team. The blueliner got the chance to catch up with his old friends before the game and for more than an hour afterward in the tunnels.
“The game starts, and they hit me, and I hit them. We want to compete, we want to win, get bragging rights,” Poorman said. “I think they each wanted to get a little shot in.”
The win lived up to the hype. Plattsburgh killed two penalties in the first period to keep the game scoreless at the first intermission. Norwich’s Sami Molu saved 17 shots in the first period, setting the tone for the physical, defensive matchup.
Norwich was called for boarding eight minutes into the second period. Plattsburgh pulled Jacob Hearne for an extra attacker while it still had possession. The six-on-five advantage was overwhelming, as defenseman Ryan Hogg and forward Jagger Benson found defenseman Kevin Weaver-Vitale for the score from the right face-off circle.
Plattsburgh scored again, less than 30 seconds later on the power play. Forward Adam Tretowicz had a shot deflected by Stockdale, who left it in the crease for forward Tio D’Addario to put it in. D’Addario has four goals this year, third on the team.
Tio D’Addario (9) jumps on the glass and embraces his teammates after scoring the game-winner over Norwich Nov. 24.
Hogg was ejected for the second time this season after being called for illegal contact to the head less than 1 minute after the goal. The defenseman left the ice and smashed his stick as Benson served his time in the box. While Plattsburgh was at a disadvantage, Norwich scored. The Cadets had four power play opportunities.
“We’ve talked a lot about penalties and taking penalties this year,” Head Coach Steve Moffat said. “Tonight, I loved the energy, the intensity was great. The guys, they played really hard. We said, ‘Let’s play hard, we’ll figure out the penalties after.’ We don’t want dumb penalties, but if we’re taking good, hard penalties, we’ll take it.”
Plattsburgh won the shot battle 41-35. Hearne earned his fifth win of the season with a 34 save performance. After the game, Shiller and Hearne shared a long embrace.
“We can rely on each other in practice, we make each other better,” Hearne said. “It’s definitely the best relationship I’ve had with a goaltender. I love it. It really means the world to me.”
The Shootout has been a Cardinal tradition since its inception in 1998, featuring Plattsburgh, Norwich and Middlebury at alternating sites each November. The 2023 win marks Plattsburgh’s eighth title and first at home since 2013.
PrimeLink, an area-based telecommunications company, sponsored the tournament from 1998 to 2019. The company was acquired by FirstLight in 2020, which then became the namesake for the 2021 and 2022 Shootouts.
The PrimeLink Managed Services Divisions remained under the ownership of Champlain Technology Group and kept many of the same employees. The information technology management and consulting team, headed by CEO Trent Trahan, now operates under the name LayerEight and once again became the sponsor of the Shootout.
“We’re so fortunate that Trent Trahan decided to come back involved with the tournament. They run a first-class operation,” Moffat said. “It’s a win-win for the community for sure.”
Thomas Maia faces Nowrich defenders with the puck Nov. 24
Stockdale was named Tournament MVP and D’Addario was named Most Outstanding Rookie. Stockdale, D’Addario, Weaver-Vitale and Hearne were all named to the All-Tournament team. Stockdale was also awarded SUNYAC Player of the Week and D’Addario was awarded his third SUNYAC Rookie of the Week honor.
Plattsburgh heads back into conference action today, Dec. 1, playing the Cortland Red Dragons for the Casella Teddy Bear Toss and the Oswego Lakers tomorrow, Dec. 2 for Stress Ball Night. This marks the first time the Cardinals have faced the Lakers since Plattsburgh’s 2-1 victory in the SUNYAC Championship last season.