With few regular season contests remaining, Plattsburgh State men’s hockey coach Bob Emery said every upcoming game is crucial and will directly affect the SUNYAC and NCAA picture.
Last weekend, the No. 3 Cardinals (16-3-1, 9-1-1 SUNYAC) kept this in mind as the team traveled west to play Fredonia and Buffalo State.
PSUC picked up four SUNYAC points on the weekend, defeating the Blue Devils 4-3 Friday night and the Bengals 1-0 Saturday night on one of the team’s longest and grueling road trips of the season.
Against Fredonia, senior forward Kevin Emmerling, sophomore defenseman Chris Taff and freshmen forwards Pat Egan and Cole Stallard all notched goals, and junior goaltender Brady Rouleau tallied the win in net.
Facing Buffalo State, the Cards found themselves in the midst of another tight battle. Senior forward Michael Radisa scored the game’s lone goal, and senior goaltender Spencer Finney tallied the shutout-win for the Cards.
Both games were decided by one goal, and Emery said he has stressed to the Cards all season that they need to possess the mindset that they have to win games 1-0 because most matchups come down to the wire, and there is minimal margin for error.
“A lot of the teams we play against just try to play defensive hockey and wait for us to make a mistake,” Emery said, “so we could get ourselves in a game where we are all over a team, make one or two mistakes and the puck is in the back of our net.”
Along with this mindset, PSUC is focusing on each day of the season separately and making sure they put forth their best effort as a team, especially with just five games remaining before playoffs.
“We have to try and win every day,” Emery said. “You have to win practices. You have to win games. I think if you focus on the present, work hard, take care of pucks, forecheck hard and generate offense, usually, the outcome takes care of itself, and that is what our focus is right now.”
The Cards will look to continue implementing this approach as they welcome Oswego State to the Stafford Ice Arena tonight at 7 p.m. and SUNY Cortland Saturday night at 7 p.m., as well.
Coming off the long road trip last weekend, PSUC will be looking to take advantage of being home for two games, not having to worry about traveling and just focusing on hockey.
“With last weekend being so far away, it is nice to be home, get good sleep, utilize the facility and be in top shape for Friday night,” junior goaltender Brady Rouleau said. “I think it is a huge advantage for us to be home.”
Like every year, PSUC players know the environment of Friday night’s game against Oswego will be intense and exciting to be a part of.
“The atmosphere is second to none,” Rouleau said. “I have only been in a few rinks that get as loud as this one does. With the whole week and preparation, it feels like a playoff game anytime we play them. It’s one of those times where it’s really exciting and every other emotion you can think of.”
Rouleau acknowledged that while the Oswego game Friday will be action-packed, it will be important to avoid a letdown Saturday against Cortland because no opponent can be taken lightly, especially in the SUNYAC.
Every week, the Cards look at games as measuring sticks to evaluate where they stand as a team, and this weekend will be no different.
“The SUNYAC is one of the toughest conferences top to bottom,” senior forward Connor Gorman said. “I think if we can get four points out of this weekend, it can show what we can do. But the main thing is just focusing on Friday night and accomplishing that goal and then focusing on Saturday night and accomplishing that goal.”
As a senior, Gorman also voiced anytime PSUC faces off with Oswego, it is a special game and rivalry to be part of as a player.
“The biggest thing is the respect level each team has for one another,” Gorman said. “Obviously, I don’t like those guys when I am on the ice, but I respect the talent they have and the work ethic they have, and I think they feel the same way about our program and us too. It has been a very special game for the four years I have been here, and I just think it’s always a good matchup.”
Email Joey LaFranca at firstname.lastname@example.org