Thursday, June 20, 2024

In the Cards: Del Tufo plays to regain glory

Garrett Collins

The Plattsburgh men’s hockey team is looking to find their footing after starting their season 2-3-1. At this point of the season, they find themselves right in the thick of things in the SUNYAC conference sitting just one point behind No. 4 Cortland and just three points behind rival Oswego. Although the consistency of winning is something the team can figure out, one player who has been consistently in the net is the current SUNYAC leader in games and minutes played and ranked 4th in total saves made, goalie Anthony Del Tufo. Tufo’s SUNYAC ranking was a shock to him at first.

“It’s a team sport, a lot of it has to do with who’s in front of me,” Del Tufo said. “We get a lot of guys who can block shots, probably as many as I’ve seen ever.”

Having the protection from defense and senior players has helped the sophomore goalie get used to his new role in Plattsburgh, playing in his first collegiate season after losing his first year due to COVID-19. 

“Being able to practice a bit was nice, some of those older guys helped me make the transition into playing,” Del Tufo said. “I think our coaching staff does such a good job preparing us for games, and we have organized and hard fought practices. I think we are doing all the right things to breed success.”

The transition from juniors to college is definitely noticeable, but Del Tufo trusts the team around him to make plays when they have to.

“Compared to juniors it’s definitely faster, a lot more physical. They are not afraid to hit,” Del Tufo said. “We got some big guys, every other team has some big guys.  being a smaller guy I definitely got to keep my head on a swivel. It’s been really exciting. I think we have a really special team.”   

During the pandemic shutdown, the young goalie moved into the weight room

“I was definitely focused on getting into the gym as much as I possibly could,” Del Tufo said. “ [I watched] a lot of film from when I was playing Junior Hockey and watching film from the team 2 years ago just to see what the SUNYAC and the hockey programs were about.”

For Del Tufo, hockey isn’t just a game that he plays, it’s a family business.

“My dad played college hockey as a goalie,” Del Tufo said. “I grew up right around where the New Jersey Devils play, so as I was growing up around the rink I saw the Devils practice and play. I fell in love with the game, I was thrown in the net and haven’t turned back since.”

Growing up watching all that pro action gave some players for Del Tufo to look toward.

Right now my favorite player is Marc Andre-Fleury, he’s the goalie I’ve tried to play like my entire life,” Del Tufo said. “He’s Canadian which hurts a bit, but he’s someone who has fun with the game and everywhere he goes he makes an impact on the team and on the community, someone I’d like to model my game around.”

Like his favorite player, Del Tufo already feels a connection to the town of Plattsburgh in just his first season with the team.

“Plattsburgh is a hidden gem, that’s what I like to tell people,” Del Tufo said. “I actually was not even supposed to play my second year of juniors, I was supposed to go to another school,” Del Tufo said. “It ended up falling through because they had a kid transfer back for Division 1, and I emailed Coach Moffat about  three of four times during the year. Coach Moffat reached out to me and asked me to come up for a tour,” Del Tufo said. “I did my homework, got into school and got a call in the middle of may that said that they wanted me to be a Cardinal.”

Coach Steve Moffat could see the commitment from the young player from the beginning.

“Anthony is a hockey player, not someone who just plays hockey,” Moffat said. “He loves the sport. He is passionate about playing goalie and passionate about Plattsburgh State Hockey. He is a great kid, the team loves him and he is a competitor. He battles for every puck and every shot.”

The love he has for the program is shown in the way that he talks about the community and the fans of Cardinal hockey around the area and performing well for that base is important.

“It’s pretty surreal. The red white game had a pretty big following, just for an intersquad game,” Del Tufo said. “Being able to start my first game and seeing 1,800 to 2,000 people that all bleed Cardinal hockey was pretty special. There’s not alot of words, I caught myself looking around the rink and just taking it all in.” 

 Many athletes have a lot of superstitions and things they do every time before a game, Del Tufo is no different.

“I definitely play Shoeer, which is like keeping up with a soccer ball with the team,” Del Tufo said. “I listen to two songs that my dad listened to when he played, ‘Little in Love’ by Cliff Richards and ‘Out of Touch’ by Hall and Oates. I always listen to those songs before games to keep me relaxed. I don’t like to be too up or to down before a game so it keeps me very focused.”

Focus is something that Del Tufo is going to have to do as they face Buffalo State in their next matchup which is shaping up to be a big SUNYAC matchup for both squads as both teams are placed five and six respectfully, in the SUNYAC Standings. 

“We’re built to play very physically and to be a very fast team,” Del Tufo said. “I think if we can beat them with our speed to the outside I think we can get pucks to the net and drive guys to the net with a purpose, that’s our game if we stick to it i know we can find success,”  Del Tufo said.“I know Buffalo State is usually pretty physical so if we can play smart and stay out of the box and stick to our game plan I think we should be fine.”

Already in his first season, Del Tufo has already had games that will stick in his memory.

“Our overtime win in Cortland. That was really special, at least for me it was my first win in college and we came back from two goals three different times that game so it showed a lot of character and a lot of playing against adversity and just being able to get down the ice after scoring and just hearing the roar of the field house.” Del Tufo said. “Even my coach said he hadn’t heard it this loud ever. Him saying that was pretty cool.”

As a student athlete, Del Tufo doesn’t just have to focus on hockey. And his goals for being here in Cardinal country goes farther from just winning a championship.

“I take school pretty seriously, get my degree, get my masters, I’m here for five years, so I signed up for it,” Del Tufo said. “Athletically, I would like to lead our team to a SUNYAC Championship, we haven’t won one since 2017, so it would be really cool to put us back in the win column like that. Ultimately, win a National Championship and bring glory back to Plattsburgh.”

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