This article appeared in today's edition of Cardinal Points, Plattsburgh's student newspaper...
Cards entertain Brockport in SUNYAC semifinals
Brockport Head Coach Brian Dickinson said if there is one thing teams try to do when playing against the Plattsburgh State men's hockey team, it's keeping them off the scoreboard as long as possible.
Yet while that seems like an obvious goal for any team's opponent, it's especially true for the No. 1 team in the nation, and will be a focal point for the Golden Eagles when they face off against the Cardinals in the SUNYAC semifinals Saturday at Stafford Ice Arena.
"They are always good at scoring in bunches," Dickinson said. "The chances of shutting them out are pretty slim, but you can't give them multiple goals in a short period of time."
PSUC has done just that all season long, and in the most crucial times. Facing their first potential threat of an unbeaten season earlier in the year in Potsdam, the Cards rallied for three scores in less than 10 minutes to tie the game at four. Then, at home against Oswego, PSUC was down by two in the third period before scoring twice and again in the overtime period for a dramatic victory over a long-time rival. And the list goes on.
But a revamped Brockport squad that went from a 7-15-3 record last season to 14-7-3 this year is willing to do whatever it takes to prevent that from happening - which PSUC is well aware of.
"They are a hard-working team - they play very good defensively," PSUC Head Coach Bob Emery said. "The foundation of their team is from the goalie on out."
The Golden Eagles advanced to the semifinal game with a 3-1 victory over Potsdam Tuesday, while the Cards defeated Oswego Friday to clinch first place in the conference and a first-round by.
Dickinson said team chemistry has been the key to Brockport's success this season."We've gotten great leadership from our captains," he said. "These guys accepted the new guys in, put an agenda together and really followed through. They're as tight a group as I've ever had, and it's strictly business when they come to work every day."
A victory Saturday over Cortland put PSUC at its undeniable No. 1 slot in the USCHO.com national poll, which will pay dividends come NCAA Tournament time.
"Right now, from a national standpoint, we're sitting pretty at the No. 1 seed," Emery said. "It's going to take more than one loss in the SUNYAC to take us out of it."
However, PSUC still wants to repeat as conference champions this season, which would be a big boost before the national tournament.
Emery said it is still "anybody's conference," and PSUC goaltender Bryan Hince agreed.
"We know that in this league, anyone can beat anyone on any given night, so it is really important for us to be well-prepared," Hince said. "Brockport has a good all-around squad and they always play us tough. The important thing for us is to stay hungry and to stay healthy to maximize our chances of winning."
For Brockport, Dickinson said the only way to beat a team like Plattsburgh is to take time off of the clock and hope the Cards "tighten up."