Looking ahead at this weekend’s games…
If anyone is primed to upset the Plattsburgh Cardinals, the number one team in the nation, it’s the Brockport Golden Eagles. Riding an unbeaten streak that dates back to November 30th, Brockport has the emotion and momentum to make a serious statement tonight by beating the Cardinals on their home ice in a 7:00 PM match-up in the Adirondacks.
When last they faced each other back in November, Plattsburgh beat Brockport 5-0. But, for more than half the game, Brockport put on a defensive show and held Plattsburgh to “only” a 2-0 score after 1.75 periods. If they can maintain that pressure all game they can stop the juggernaut…especially if Brockport can get its offense in gear.
In their first match-up Brockport’s usually relentless and violent offense looked bland and passive, letting the Cardinals defense and forechecking control the tempo. If Brockport brings the same offense that they have on the 10-game streak…one that’s as defensive as it is offensive, one that’s arguably the most physical in DIII…they’ll win. When it comes to playing Plattsburgh most team gets intimidated. Now, if Brockport turned the tables and physically pounded and intimidated them, as much as Brockport has to everyone else, they’ll win. So, my prediction is that Brockport wins in the upset of the year, 5-4.
What to watch for: Plattsburgh always seems to do everything right. Size, speed, strength…they’ve got it all. Year in, year out they make goal scoring look way too easy. They are at once aggressive and patient, swarming other teams, suffocating them and then finding their weak spot. They skate better and move the puck better than most teams and are as adept at sniping as they are at putting in close-range blasts. Last year they had five guys score 10 or more goals, led by now-sophomore Dylan Clarke and his 21 goals. This season’s leading scorer is Clarke once again, who already has 31 points. He’s aided by Joey Wilson and his 17 goals. Defenseman Nick Rolls is by far their best player. He’s smart, he skates well, he hits hard and is the best offensive defenseman in the SUNYAC. Last season he racked up 30 points, including 14 goals. Amazing numbers for a defender. This year, he has 19 points. The net is guarded well by Bryan Hince. He’s the third-best goalie in SUNYAC (behind Sheridan and Street). Lacking athleticism, he can be beat by chaos in front of the net….that is if their swarming defense allows anyone to get close.
Brockport continues its road trip to the North Country on Saturday, heading to lowly Potsdam who are 6-9-5 and nowhere near as competitive as they once were. When the season started they were ranked 21st in the polls, thanks to a recruiting class that was supposed to be spectacular but has not been cohesive. The team’s chemistry is a little off, too, this semester because one day into the post-holiday practice their #1 goaltender Rick Miller left the team. Now, they’ve had to lean on freshman Trevor O’Neill who just isn’t ready to backstop a team with a porous defense. He sports an .864 saves percentage and a 4.10 GAA. Despite their flaws, the team can still score some goals. Connor Treacy has 32 points on the season (with 15 goals) and rookie Fraser Smith has 11 goals. Brockport will beat them.
Both games can be heard on the point, on air at 89.1 FM or online at www.891thepoint.com