No More Sundberg
There is no beating around the bush. Niklas Sundberg is gone.
One of the top goaltenders ever at Plattsburgh, and in Division III for that matter, has done his four years. Now, Plattsburgh needs to replace the two-time All-American who led it to a national championship in 2001.
For now, that burden rests on the shoulders of sophomore Tony Seariac. So far, he has done the job. If he falters, freshmen Curtis Cribbie and Craig Neilson will be waiting in the wings.
When you score over five goals a game in conference play, there should be no worries. However, that’s not quite the case. Knowing that Plattsburgh has the firepower to knock you senseless, the opposition will adjust their game.
Coach Bob Emery said, “Up front, we won’t have problems scoring goals, but a lot of teams will be playing a defensive style against us.”
The players who will need to break through that noose will be All-Americans Jason Kilcan and Brendon Hodge as well as Adam Richards, Jeff Hopkins, and Rob Retter. Guy Come will have to make his contribution in the second semester, as he will sit out the first. All of them were in the double-digit range for goals last year.
With that kind of firepower returning, don’t expect a freshman to break through with big numbers.
If the goalies do have problems, they will have solid defenders in front of them, led by All-American Peter Ollari. Doug Carr and Chad Kemp will add to the veteran factor, while Emery plans on playing three freshmen at the blue line — Brett Gilmour, Bryan North, and Billy Fetherston.
Toughen Them Up
Emery makes no bones about it. He firmly believes in playing as tough as a schedule as possible.
He said, “The tough schedule prepares you for the playoffs. You’re only as good as the players you play against.”
And tough it is. Outside of the conference, which will be no cakewalk (“The SUNYAC is getting stronger and stronger every year,” Emery said), Plattsburgh once again participates in the Great Northern Shootout, facing league rival Potsdam on the first day and then either Norwich and Middlebury the next.
And, in case Plattsburgh misses either of those teams, games are scheduled against each of the Vermont powerhouses later in the season. The Cardinals also face off against archrivals Elmira, and RIT is back on the schedule.
Maybe that schedule borders on masochism, but Plattsburgh will be hardened for the key games down the stretch.
Make It Lucky 7
“Numbers-wise, we didn’t lose a lot,” Emery said. “I want to make sure we replace Nik first before I make any predictions.”
Here’s a prediction, then — Plattsburgh may stumble at times as it figures out the goalie situation, but like the past two years, will peak when it counts and win a seventh consecutive SUNYAC title, then proceed to make some noise in the NCAAs.