There’s something as a hockey team that you don’t want to do and that’s face a mad Bob Emery, the coach of the Plattsburgh Cardinals. Always - and I mean always - cool and calm behind the bench, his on-ice demeanor belies the competitive fire that rages within him.
On Friday night the Cardinals beat Geneseo 4-3, something 71 other teams in Division III would have been happy in doing. Not so at PSU…they aim to bury teams and a 4-3 win was too close for comfort for them.
Then on Saturday, they skated into the first intermission leading Brockport by only a score of 1-0. Whatever Emery said in the locker room really motivated the team and they were unstoppable in the final two periods, putting on a clinic that saw them score 6 goals, fire 41 shots at the net, and allow only 10 shots on goal over the course of the final two periods. They looked like the best team in Division III (yes, even better than this year’s supposed #1, Oswego) over the final 2 stanzas, carrying them to a 7-1 victory over Brockport.
They did everything right. After having their power play strangled by Brockport in the first when the Golden Eagles closed-in on them and forced them to make sloppy passes and sloppy shots, their special teams turned it up a notch. In the game they converted on 2 power plays and - worse yet – scored two shorthanded goals less than a minute apart, something that can really take the wind out of an opponent’s sails. They played like robots, swarming and charging in numbers (everyway breakaway turned into a man advantage), their trailers playing rebounds like experts. In total, they put 52 shots on the net versus Brockport’s 15.
It seemed that Justin Noble’s goal was the only quality shot of the night for Brockport as the swarming Plattsburgh defense forced Brockport into taking long-distance shots that made for an easy night for goaltender Josh Leis. There was no way to get any closer based on how well PSU was playing.
It didn’t help that Brockport was penalized 12 times for a total of 35 minutes. But some of those, including two clean hits by James Cody, were very questionable calls. Just as any sport (a la New England Patriots), it often seems that the best teams get the benefit of the doubt from the refs and calls seem to go in their favor for violations real or otherwise. That brought out the boo birds in the crowd, parents and students alike, the former typically quiet in that regard. The refs sure weren’t the most beloved men in WNY last night.
Another thing that was frustrating was the uncharacteristic dirty play of the Cardinals who ran the goalie numerous times throughout the game. Four times Todd Sheridan ended up at the bottom of a pile and on another play he took a knee in the temple. They’re a good team, no, a great team, that doesn’t need to do that to win.
But, not to sound like I’m making excuses by addressing the phantom penalties and goalie hits... Plattsburgh truly was unstoppable regardless. Brockport had their hands full and even if they were on their “A” game I don’t think they could have beaten them. If the Cardinals continue to play like this I can count on seeing them amongst the four teams at Lake Placid in March.
Brockport can only ignore this game and focus on their next opponent and the strengths of the Golden Eagles that have resulted in a 10-win season so far, the team’s fourth double-digit season of the past 20 years. It’s been a great season and you can’t let a game like this leave a bad taste in your mouth. There are a few more teams to beat out there and a playoff game to strive for.
(On a side note, some know that I wasn’t at Friday’s game because my dad was in hospital following an emergency quadruple bypass on Thursday. He’s in good spirits and doing so well that he may even go home today. Modern science is amazing!)
Here’s how the Brockport Athletic Departments saw the game…
SUNY Plattsburgh scored three goals in each of the final two periods to score a 7-1 victory over The College at Brockport Hockey team Saturday night in a State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) game at the Tuttle North Ice Arena in Brockport.
Brockport (10-9 overall, 4-6 SUNYAC) scored its only goal of the game near the end of the second period as Justin Noble (Georgetown, ONT) picked up a rebound and scored into the open side of the goal to make it a 4-1 score. Jason Gorrie (Etobicoke, ONT) and Tyler Davis (Queensbury, NY) had assists on the goal.
Plattsburgh (12-2-4, 8-1-1) scored midway through the first period for a 1-0 lead as Brockport killed off four full two-minute power plays in the period.
In the second period, the Cardinals scored two short handed goals in under a minute to take a 3-0 lead and added a power play goal with six minutes left in the period for a 4-0 advantage.
Noble’s goal made it 4-1 as the period ended before the Cardinals scored three more times in the third period including two on power plays for the final margin of victory.
Todd Sheridan (Edison, NJ) made 45 saves as Brockport was outshot 52-15 in the contest.