The formula has been the same the past two years for Plattsburgh in the playoffs. Beat Oswego with Plattsburgh’s “home ice” advantage at the Romney Fieldhouse and then lose to Geneseo in a three-game series.
This year, they can’t do that. Oswego has a new arena and the finals will be a one game shot. Will that make a difference for the Cardinals?
“I think the key in SUNYAC is to have home ice advantage,” Emery said. “If you look back at the SUNYAC champions the past few years, they all have been the home team. You can’t mess up in the regular season. We need to lower our goals against and get better on the penalty kill.”
Gone are their leading scorer, Ben Kemp, as well as David Friel, Bryan North, and Justin Rafferty. Goalie Craig Neilson, often wrongly maligned, also graduated.
“We lost a lot of kids to graduation,” Emery said. “We’ll have 20 guys who are freshmen and sophomores.”
However, when it comes to the Cardinals, they are used to losing outstanding players each year. They simply respond by reloading.
Like Karl Helgesson, a goalie from Sweden who transferred from Plymouth State. Will he be the next Niklas Sundberg? Or, how about Shawn Dennis, a center transfer from Niagara University.
Of course, recruiting has always been a strong point of Emery. Seven freshmen forwards enter the fray to join Ryan Busby, Mike Thomson, Kevin Galan, Shane Remenda, and Riley Hill. Scoring goals has never been a problem for Plattsburgh, and this year won’t be an exception.
On defense, Eric Greene, Tom Breslin, and Ward Smith attempt to make their mark. Returning are Nick Rolls, Rick Janco, Casey Smith, and Ryan Burke.
Goaltending is really the only question mark heading into this season. Chris Molinaro returns. He was given opportunities to be the starting goalie last year, but never fully came through. He or Helgesson along with Andy Stricker will have to step up if they want to be the clear cut number one.
“We’re fortunate to have guys battling for the right,” Emery said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we split goaltending duties.”
Plattsburgh has been in a bit of a funk the last few years. That doesn’t happen too long with this school. If a top goalie emerges and the team gels nicely, the Cardinals won’t have to worry about making a new visitor’s rink their home ice nor be concerned with just one game in the finals.