Back From The Sabbatical
The break in the SUNYAC schedule gave the conference a chance to matchup against non-league competition. Catching up on what went down:
Plattsburgh had a rough two weeks, dropping three straight games. It was the first time the defending national champs had put together a losing streak of more than one game since losing consecutive games to Middlebury and Williams in January, 2000.
The losses also snapped a nine-game winning streak for Plattsburgh, which last lost to Potsdam in the second game of the 2001 SUNYAC finals.
The first defeat came at the hands of visiting Elmira, 2-1. Despite putting 51 shots on goalie Rob Ligas, including 22 in the third period, the Cardinals could only muster one first-period goal against the hot netminder.
Plattsburgh was just seven seconds away from a win over Norwich in the first round of the Primelink Great Northern Shootout at Potsdam last Friday afternoon, when Kurtis Mclean knotted the game at two apiece. The Cadets got the game winner after just over 16 minutes of the second overtime had passed.
Host Potsdam put another dent in the Cardinals’ record with a 3-2 upset in the tournament’s consolation round on Saturday. Potsdam’s Mark Hathaway notched the game-winning goal with just over six minutes left in the second period.
At first glance, three straight losses by the defending national champs seemingly would indicate big trouble in Plattsburgh.
But upon further review …
In the three losses Plattsburgh put up plenty of shots but got stoned against three tough goalies.
A team that last year averaged scoring five goals a game, Plattsburgh gave up no more than three in the three games, usually few enough goals against to win. Opponents were just 1-for-17 on the power play in the losses, and goalies Niklas Sundberg and rookie Tony Seariac combined for a .921 save percentage and a 2.22 GAA through three games.
As coach Bob Emery said on his weekly radio show Behind The Bench on Monday, “If I knew what the problem was, I’d be worried. Because that would mean we couldn’t fix it.”
It could be that Plattsburgh is just having a run of bad puck luck.
The losses do make it more likely that only the SUNYAC championship winner will make the NCAA tournament. If that team is Plattsburgh, the defeats could affect whether the Cardinals play host or go on the road during the quarterfinals.
One plus for the Cardinals: they play each team they lost to once more this season, and could play Potsdam four or even five times more if the league playoffs are included.
Plattsburgh has three home games in a row before a visit to Middlebury, and the annual Cardinal Classic tournament. Brockport and Geneseo visit this weekend, and Plattsburgh gets a chance to avenge the Potsdam loss on Tuesday.
Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad
Besides the Primelink consolation win over Plattsburgh and a first-round 5-0 loss in that tourney to Middlebury, Ed Seney’s Bears also notched a convincing 6-2 home win over a strong Manhattanvile team. Special teams were key in the victory over the Valiants as Potsdam scored two powerplay goals, two shorthanded, and one 4-on-4. Venturelli, who has played all 540 minutes but for 3:22 of open net for Potsdam, made 29 saves in the win.
For a young Bears squad, a weekend sweep would get them back to .500 in conference.
Brockport and Geneseo Head North
Brockport, still looking for its first conference win, takes on two of its toughest conference foes in Plattsburgh and Potsdam.
The Golden Eagles had only one game during the league hiatus, dropping a 5-3 game to ECAC Northeast Curry on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
Travel partner Geneseo heads north after a convincing 5-2 win at Hobart on Wednesday night, avenging a 7-4 loss in the first round of the Rochester Cup in October, and putting together the first winning streak of the season for rookie coach Brian Hills.
The Knights split two home games during the league intermission, downing Neumann 6-2 on Nov. 17, after dropping a game to Lebanon Valley 5-3 the night before.
Senior captain Tony Scorsone leads Geneseo with five goals and 11 assists.
Brockport visits Geneseo in that travel partner matchup next Tuesday. The Soaring Eagles beat the Knights 2-1 earlier this season in the Rochester Cup consolation round.
Lakers Split With ECAC West
Oswego had a tough one last Saturday at Manhattanville’s New Roc City home arena — a tough place to take on the Valiants — dropping an 8-4 decision. The Lakers gave up a shorthanded goal and three second-period power-play tallies to the homestanders.
Tuesday night, the Lakers pounded in four straight goals in the third period to come from behind in a 9-6 win over an Elmira squad playing its third game in four nights.
The Lakers host Buffalo State and Fredonia this weekend before travel partner Cortland visits next Tuesday.
Red Dragons Get One of Each
Cortland improved to 7-1 with a 6-2 win over visiting Johnson & Wales on Nov. 17 to start the Thanksgiving break.
The following Tuesday, the Red Dragons visited Utica for the first time. The Pioneers went up 3-0, before Cortland reeled off four in the second period. Utica tied the game for good at four on a 5-on-3 midway through the third.
Tuesday night, Hamilton nipped Cortland 6-5 in overtime, after the Red Dragons fought back from a 5-3 deficit.
A sweep, or even a split of the weekend would almost assure a playoff spot for Cortland.
Time To Score Some Goals
Prior to league play, Fredonia coach Jeff Meredith identified goal scoring as an area his team could be better at than last season.
Goaltender Will Hamele has a 2.42 GAA for the Blue Devils, but the team has averaged just two goals a game.
With just one win so far in conference, the weekend’s games, plus a visit from travel partner Buffalo State, loom large for the Blue Devils.
Bengals Can Make A Statement
Buffalo State, at 6-3-0 and 3-1-0 in conference, is off to the best start in school history. The lone intermission game for the Bengals was a 7-6 home win over a strong, young Hobart squad on Nov. 20.
Forwards Joe Urbanik and Todd Nowicki each have 17 points for the Bengals, who will look to both move up in the standings and show their mettle with a trip to Cortland and Oswego.
About This Behind the Bench Show
Hockey fans around the country might want to check out Bob Emery’s Behind the Bench Monday nights at 6:30 ET on WIRY, Plattsburgh. You can pick up a Windows Media Player feed from the WIRY website.
The program is hosted by WIRY’s Ducky Drake, a gracious man who is a legend in Cardinal country, and who has been the voice Plattsburgh hockey for more than a quarter century. Ducky is not afraid to ask tough questions of Emery.
The program takes phone calls, e-mails and faxes from listeners.
Be sure to catch Ducky calling a Plattsburgh game, if you can. There’s no doubt he’s a Cardinal fan through-and-through, but he doesn’t approach it with the overwhelming and sometimes whining bias that “homer” broadcasters do. He always gives the straight skinny on what’s happening on the ice, and despite his small-town zip code, he is one of the best hockey broadcasters in the country.
If you’ll indulge me for a second, I just have to say that listening to WIRY brings a smile to my face.
As someone who has been interested in radio since I was kneehigh to a grasshopper, and as someone who has been active in radio for over 20 years, it is refreshing to hear a station that is not a homogenized, computerized product of a conglomerate.
WIRY calls itself “Hometown Radio,” and it is indeed that: a full-service radio station serving the needs of its listeners.
Big city residents, or those too young to remember before big radio chains ruined radio, might find the mix of ’60s rock and ’90s country, regional news and information, singing station IDs, and local commercials quaint or corny.
And you may laugh at a station that reads Letters to Santa every night, or who lets people advertise their stuff for sale by calling “Swap Shop.”
But if you grew up in a small town, or if you remember listening to the radio when stations actually tried to serve their communities, WIRY will sound like home.
And I bet it will put a smile on your face, too.
Shake Shake Shake
A few posters in the USCHO.com Fan Forum took Emery to task for not shaking hands with Potsdam players at the end of the game Saturday.
He addressed this issue when it was brought up by Ducky Drake during Monday’s Behind the Bench.
“I think I’ve been here for 400 hundred games and I’ve always shaken the hand of the opponents’ coach,” said Emery. “I don’t shake hands with the other team’s players, but I shake hands with the coach — always and ever.”
In fact, Emery — and many other coaches — are following the rules to the letter by not participating in the handshaking lineup at the end of the game.
NCAA Ice Hockey game protocol rule 7-2, paragraph (h) says, “At the conclusion of each game, players shall assemble at center ice for the traditional handshake. Coaches should exchange handshakes and remain at their respective bench areas until the conclusion of the player handshake.” (Emphasis mine.)
It’s fine if coaches wish to join the handshake lineup, and many head coaches and their assistants do.
However, it’s certainly not bad sportsmanship if a coach chooses not to, and those criticizing Emery for not doing so are wrong.
Four More Years
Despite some speculation to the contrary, the best in-season tournament in Division III is back for another tour through the barns of the four participants. Plattsburgh, Potsdam, Middlebury, and Norwich have signed contracts for another four years of the Primelink Great Northern Shootout.
Each team has hosted once.
The last three winners — Middlebury, Norwich, and Plattsburgh — have been the last three national champions.
Can a team score a goal when a delayed penalty is called on them?
Before you answer “no” … Plattsburgh did exactly that against Potsdam last Saturday.
It does take a freaky set of circumstances to make it happen, though.
As most hockey fans know, when a player makes an infraction when the other team controls the puck, play continues until a player from the team making the infraction gains control.
With a delayed penalty coming against Plattsburgh’s Mark Cole, Bears goalie Ryan Venturelli made his way toward the bench for an extra attacker. Freshman center Conor McDonough dove to block a slapshot from the point and the puck deflected the length of the ice into the empty Potsdam goal.
Since the Cardinals did not gain control of the puck, the goal counted. McDonough was credited with an unassisted goal.
Believe it or not, after next Tuesday’s games between the SUNYAC travel partners, the league schedule will be halfway over.
In the next two weeks, we’ll take a look at where everyone stands as the conference schedule reaches its midpoint. We’ll touch base with the coaches around the SUNYAC and take a look at which players have made the biggest impact so far this season.
Last Week’s Questions
Which goaltender from the 1987 championship game between Plattsburgh and Oswego is now a head coach in the CHA?
Craig Barnett, goalie for Plattsburgh in that game, is the head coach of the Findlay Oilers.
And, what current ESPN broadcaster covered that game on the radio?
Steve Levy, a 1987 graduate of Oswego, was the Lakers’ radio play-by-play announcer for carrier current WOCR radio, the predecessor to today’s WNYO-FM.
This Week’s Question
How many current SUNYAC coaches have been named SUNYAC coach of the year at least once?
Game of the Week
The game of the week is the rematch of Potsdam at Plattsburgh on Tuesday. Unlike the Primelink consolation game last weekend at Maxcy Hall, this one counts in the standings.
The youthful Bears will be looking to prove that the win over the Cardinals was no fluke, while Plattsburgh will be looking to exact revenge for the defeat in the much friendlier confines of the Stafford Arena.