The Plattsburgh State men’s hockey team continued its winning start to its season Friday with what, on paper, was an unexpected win.
The Cardinals defeated No. 2 SUNY Geneseo at the Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena by a score of 3-2.
Scoring once in each period, PSUC (3-0-0, 3-0-0) built a 3-0 lead before Geneseo (3-1-1, 1-1-1), who entered the game with the nation’s joint-best power-play success rate, recorded two extra-man goals 33 seconds apart to make it a close score.
Overall, head coach Bob Emery was happy with what he saw out of his team.
“I thought we did a real good job of taking care of the front of our net tonight,” Emery said. “We did a good job of making sure they didn’t get a lot of second chances.”
The Cards, backed by the play of sophomore goaltender Jimmy Poreda, held on for the upset win, despite Geneseo’s 40-25 advantage in shots on goal in the game.
“The way the game is played now, your goalie has to give you a chance to win, and Jimmy did all of that tonight,” Emery said.
PSUC opened the scoring 11 minutes into the contest with a goal from senior center Cam Owens, assisted by sophomore right wing Rich McCartney.
Receiving the puck off a cross-ice pass in the neutral zone, Owens carried it to the hash marks before making a no-look backward pass to McCartney, who took a quick shot before Owens jabbed the rebound past Geneseo’s senior goaltender Devin McDonald.
“It was huge,” senior left wing Pat Egan said. “Coming out against Geneseo, we want to get on the board early.”
Minutes later, Owens connected on a pass that put McCartney one-on-one with McDonald, but the senior goaltender made the save to keep the score at 1-0 through one period.
The second period started with a bang, as an open-ice hit directly to Owens’ head sent the center sprawling to the ice two minutes into the frame. After Owens was helped off by trainers and teammates, the Cards went back to the power play.
Geneseo’s junior defenseman Tanner Salsberry was assessed a 5-minute major penalty on the play and ejected from the game. Three minutes into that power play, Egan found the back of the net with a shot through traffic to double PSUC’s lead.
“I think a lot of the guys on our team wanted to get that one a little bit extra because Cam got hurt; he’s a huge piece of our team,” Egan said.
Owens’ injury on the play was not clear, but Emery said Owens will not be playing tomorrow.
“Any time you get any type of head injury, you’re not playing the next day, no matter what it is,” Emery said.
The Cards extended their lead to three goals with five minutes remaining in the game when senior center Cole Stallard converted on Geneseo’s only other penalty.
That goal would prove the game-winner, as the Knights converted on back-to-back penalties by senior defensemen Jakob Engvall and junior defenseman Philip Middleton. The first of those goals, by junior right wing David Szmyd, was scored with a six-on-four advantage because Geneseo’s coaching staff had pulled McDonald.
“I was a little disappointed toward the end, taking some dumb penalties that got them back in the game,” Emery said. “But I give the guys a lot of credit for finding a way and getting it done.”
Poreda, who made 38 saves in his third consecutive win, was happy with his own play and that of the team in front of him, but saw room for improvement by everyone.
“I thought we played really well,” Poreda said. “That’s not our best game; I know we can do better, but we did enough to get a win.”
With PSUC already receiving votes in the national polls, taking down the No. 2 team in the nation might be enough to get the Cards into the top 15 for the first time since Nov. 6, 2017.
“We’re not far off, that’s for sure,” Poreda said.
To do that, PSUC will have to secure another victory Saturday. The Cards will host the College at Brockport (4-1-0, 2-1-0), with opening faceoff scheduled for 7 p.m.
“We’ll enjoy this one until midnight, and then tomorrow [we will] get up and get ready for the next game,” Emery said. “In Brockport, the coaching staff have done a really good job. There are no nights off in the SUNYAC.”
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