By Liam Sample
The Plattsburgh men’s hockey team (2-1-1) began its 2022-2023 SUNYAC play on the road by splitting a two game set. The weekend started with a 5-1 loss to the No. 10 Oswego Lakers (3-1-0) Nov. 4 and the team responded with a commanding 7-2 win over Cortland Red Dragons (2-1-1) Nov. 5.
While the results weren’t ideal, Plattsburgh proved its resilience. Graduate student goaltender Kyle Alaverdy said the team came together after the loss to try to bounce back.
“We said it all day [Saturday], if we’re going to be a good team, we need to really rebound and play well,” Alaverdy said. “You can’t lose two games in a weekend.”
In Oswego, the team played in front of the “whiteout” crowd, with nearly the entire opposing arena dressed in white. Rather than be intimidated by the environment, some of the players revelled it.
Graduate student captain Matt Araujo said that the team doesn’t get to play “in front of a crowd like that too often, no matter what level you’re at.” First year Riley Sutherland said the atmosphere was “pretty crazy,” and Alaverdy said it was a “cool game to be a part of.”
Plattsburgh struggled to find its footing against the Lakers, being down three goals after two periods. The team hit a roadblock when first-year Ryan Bonfield scored as the second period expired, which was taken away due to it not crossing the goal line in time.
In the third, the Lakers scored another to make it 4-0. Over a minute later, sophomore defender Jack Ring tried to get the Cards back into it with the team’s first conference goal of the year. Sophomore forward Jake Lanyi led the offense over the blue line, he dished a quick pass to Sutherland who shot it off the goalies pass. Ring rushed the net and put the rebound over the line for his second goal of the year.
Oswego scored one more with eight seconds remaining on the empty net to solidify the 5-1 win. Plattsburgh only had three shots in the first period, but outshot Oswego in the final two periods and finished the game leading 29-20 in shots.
“Overall I thought we had a good game. We showed a lot of character and showed a lot of good things out there,” Araujo said. “We could take good things away from [the game] and learn from that.”
Oswego’s goalie, first year Cal Schell, made his career debut and saved 28. Alaverdy made the start in net, with this game being his SUNYAC debut. He allowed four and saved 15 and said “it wasn’t my best” and will be better when asked upon.
“I need to settle in a little bit and just live in the moment and stop pucks,” Alaverdy said. “I know if I just work my tail off, I’m going to put myself in the best position to help the team so that’s what I’m going to do all week.”
Rather than be discouraged by a loss where it outshot a rival and lost by four goals, the Cardinals went into Cortland looking to respond. As a captain, Araujo made the message clear for the team and laid out what the team could have done better.
“The mistakes the night before killed us and that’s how we lost. We beat ourselves that night,” Araujo said. “Going into [Cortland], the competition might not be as good, the atmosphere might not be as good. but we need to take advantage of that. You need to put up five, six goals on these nights and keep them out of our end as much as possible and they responded pretty well.”
The Cardinals took its captain’s message seriously, as it registered 17 shots just in the first period. The frame was capped off by Lanyi scoring his first goal of the season with 5:14 left in the period.
After that, the Plattsburgh offense exploded. Senior forward Adam Tretowicz tallied his first of the season before the halfway point of the season. Junior Paul Bryer followed with one of his own less than five minutes later. Cortland got one back towards the end of the period on the powerplay, but it was quickly responded by one of the highlights of the game, when Sutherland scored his first collegiate goal.
“[First-year Brannon] Butler made a breakout pass over to [first-year] Ryan Bonfield, he made a great play to get around the guy and he just passed it over to me, gave me an easy tap in,” Sutherland said. “I was super pumped to get my first goal, the guys were great about it and it’s a memory I won’t forget.”
Sutherland said he was able to keep the puck. He was later named SUNYAC Rookie of the Week for having four combined points over the two games.
The third saw more of the same, with junior forward Carson Gallagher netting one before the three minute mark on the powerplay.
Cortland again tried to fight back with a goal over two minutes later, but Bonfield had a moment of his own, scoring his first collegiate goal seven minutes into the period. The game was capped off by Bryer scoring his second of the day, as Plattsburgh finished the weekend with a 7-2 win.
“We came out of the game flying, fixing our mistakes the night before, taking advantage of it, learning from it,” Araujo said.
Araujo said the young guys “opened themselves up to the team a little bit” and “knocked the elephant out of the room” by getting their first collegiate goals.
Sophomore Jacob Hearne got the start in goal for Plattsburgh and made 26 saves. Alaverdy was thankful that Hearne was able to come in and play well.
Sutherland also praised Hearne’s performance and described the team’s play as “fiery.” He said the team executed a game plan and a lot of guys stepped up to make plays and score.
Plattsburgh will have its regular season home debut today against the Brockport Golden Eagles (2-1-0). Brockport made a four goal comeback last season to eliminate the Cardinals from the SUNYAC Playoffs, which the team will be looking for revenge.
The game will be followed by another conference matchup against the Geneseo Knights (3-1-0), who are ranked No. 3 nationally Nov. 12.
Araujo, who will be playing in his final home opener, said there is “some bad blood we’re going to have to take care of” with Brockport and Geneseo is “always a chippy game within itself.”
“You only get to do this once a year, home opener in front of the town,” Araujo said. “Hopefully the crowd’s alive and they’re enjoying the game and hopefully we can put on a good performance. I feel pretty good about this weekend.”