Plattsburgh forward Jagger Benson gets the puck poked out by Geneseo defenseman Alex Wilkins at home Friday, Nov. 10.
By Collin Bolebruch
Plattsburgh Cardinals men’s hockey is number one in the country for the first time since Nov. 30, 2015.
A U.S. College Hockey Online poll placed the Cards above the reigning national champion Hobart College and runner-up Adrian College Nov. 13. Plattsburgh, standing at 5-0, is now the team to beat for the first time under Head Coach Steve Moffat.
USCHO Voters didn’t agree on who deserved the top spot — out of 20 first-place votes, Plattsburgh received eight, Adrian five, Hobart four and Utica three. D-III Hockey News has Utica at number one. This is the first time either site has knocked Hobart down, following a loss to unranked Babson.
“I was really happy that we got recognition for our hard work,” sophomore defenseman Lonan Bulger, a transfer from Hobart, wrote in a text. “Now, the next goal for rankings is to get all 20 first-place votes.”
Plattsburgh was unranked for the entirety of Moffat’s first two seasons, from 2019 to 2022. The Cardinals found its footing last season, but were left out of the top 15 as late as Jan. 9. A strong second half to the season took the team as high as five March 6. It opened the 2023-24 season at seven.
The number one ranking comes off the heels of two home SUNYAC wins for the Cards: 6-2 over the then-no. 8 Geneseo Knights Nov. 10 and 3-1 over the Brockport Golden Eagles Nov. 11.
The Cardinals cruised over the Knights, due in part to a strong, three-score first period. The game was the team’s first SUNYAC home game of the season.
“With the crowd there, it always helps us get the first [goal]. It always helps to get that first one,” senior forward Bennett Stockdale said. “I think that was the biggest thing for us.”
Bennett Stockdale and his linemates celebrate a score against the Knights at home Nov. 10.
First-year forward Tio D’Addario scored the opening goal a minute into the contest.
“It was unreal. The crowd was really into it, the student section was awesome,” D’Addario said. “It’s a really good place to play.”
D’Addario has been spectacular this season — he’s totaled five points so far.
D’Addario was off the ice 10 minutes after his score. He was called for illegal contact to the head. D’Addario received five minutes in the box and was ejected from the game.
“Obviously, it was unintentional. I didn’t mean to do that,” D’Addario said. “It is what it is.”
Plattsburgh committed nine different penalties throughout the game, allowing Geneseo four power play opportunities. To win closer games, Moffat knows the team needs to clean it up.
“We definitely need to stay out of the box. Some of the penalties were really dumb. Eventually they’re going to catch up to us,” Moffat said. “I think we did an outstanding job killing penalties tonight.”
It’s not always the best teams that give you the toughest contests. Brockport, standing at 2-3, made Plattsburgh fight through the third. The Golden Eagles scored the lone goal in the first period.
Junior forward Jake Lanyi, assisted by senior defenseman Ryan Hogg and forward Bennett Stockdale, evened the score 1-1 five minutes into the second period.
Lanyi was off the ice 11 minutes later. Hogg was removed with less than two minutes remaining in the game, after Plattsburgh secured the win. Both were ejected on calls of direct contact to the head.
Losing two scorers in a tight game isn’t something the team can afford to do for the rest of the season. The SUNYAC is always competitive, and it shows in the poll this season — Geneseo rose to seven and Oswego is on Plattsburgh’s tail at five. Cortland was one of the first teams off the list.
The Cards is slated to play four or five more regular-season games against ranked opponents, including at most two games against no. 9 Norwich, which dropped Plattsburgh in the NCAA Tournament last season.
“When we’re playing Genny in a couple of months, we’re going to change, they’re going to change,” Moffat said. “There’s a lot of hockey to be played.”
Joshua Belgrave, who scored three goals over the weekend, was named SUNYAC Player of the Week Nov. 13. D’Addario earned his second SUNYAC Rookie of the Week Nov. 13.
Plattsburgh faces the Potsdam Bears at home tomorrow, Nov. 18. The Bears are the only winless team in the SUNYAC this season, but still dropped the Cards 2-5 last season. The game will be a chance for Plattsburgh to fine-tune its game and stay out of the box.