In a season full of accomplishments, the Plattsburgh State men’s hockey team captured another feat, winning the SUNYAC regular season title and clinching home ice throughout the SUNYAC tournament.

The No. 2 Cardinals (19-3-1, 12-1-1 SUNYAC) made the final step on their way to the regular season crown when they traveled to play Potsdam last Saturday, defeating their North Country foe 2-1.

Senior defenseman Anthony Calabrese scored the game-winning goal late in the second period that broke a 1-1 tie and sealed the victory for the Cards, who knew they would have their work cut out for themselves against Potsdam.

PSUC head coach Bob Emery said the team did not know exactly what type of situation to expect going into the game against Potsdam but realized the Bears would come ready to play.
“I knew we were going to get Potsdam’s best game of the year,” Emery said. “They played hard and caused us to make a lot of mistakes, especially in the first period. We were able to get out of the first period with no goals against, and I think that was really key.”

The Cards gained a 1-0 advantage midway through the first frame on a goal by sophomore forward Matt Quilty and took their lead into intermission, but the Bears came back and scored 55 seconds into the second period to even the score.

After Potsdam’s equalizer, PSUC was able to gain momentum back as the period progressed, especially after Calabrese’s goal, and Emery said his team’s play improved after the first period, citing the Cards’ ability to clear pucks out of their defensive end and establish a strong offensive presence in the Bear’s zone.

The fact that PSUC’s latest matchup against Potsdam was close came as no surprise to the Cards. The team anticipates tight contests every game, and Emery said this mindset will not
change moving forward, with all opponents being a challenge.

“Most games are one-goal games in hockey, and at our level, the competition is so close,” Emery said. “Our league is competitive top to bottom, and that’s just the way it’s going to be.”

The Cards expecting games to be close is a smart mindset for them to have with four of their last five games being decided by one goal. Looking ahead, this philosophy can help assist the confidence and non-complacent attitude the payers display.

“We have the belief,” sophomore forward Matt Quilty said. “These things just come at you when you are on a team sometimes, and you get that good feeling that things will work out. Obviously you have to keep working, but we believe at this point that if we do the right things, we should be able to make a pretty deep run this year, if not go all the way, which is the ultimate goal.”

PSUC will aim to continue its winning ways as they welcome Brockport to the Stafford Ice Arena tonight at 7 p.m. and Geneseo tomorrow evening at 7 p.m., looking to continue their seven-game win streak.

The Cards also see both games as an opportunity to improve as a whole.

“It’s a chance to work on all the little things,” Quilty said. “By the end, we are looking to be as perfect as you can get as a hockey team. We are not quite there yet, but these two games are huge because it’s gives us a chance to do so and set the tone moving forward.”

The two games this weekend have been circled on PSUC’s calendar since they tied Brockport and lost to Geneseo earlier in the season. This time around, the Cards want to make sure the results are different but plan to keep focused and play with the same mentality they have utilized all season.

“In our league, they are the only blemishes, so it’s kind of a payback week for us,” Emery said. “But we have to go out there and focus on what we do well, take care of the puck and play our style of hockey.”

With the postseason quickly approaching, the Cards believe this weekend can serve as a good steppingstone to the playoffs and help complete their game going into the conference tournament.

“I think at the end of the day, there is always room to get better,” senior defenseman Anthony Calabrese said. “We just have to work on the little things over and over again and be perfectionists at what we do.”

Email Joey LaFranca at sports@cardinalpointsonline.com

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