Men’s D-III Playoff Preview: Plattsburgh

League: SUNYAC
Record: 20-7-1
NCAA History: 21st appearance, two national championships (1992, 2001)

Scoring Offense:
4.07 g/gm
Scoring Defense: 2.57 g/gm
Scoring Margin:
+42 (1.50 g/gm)
Power Play: 23.7 percent
Penalty Kill: 83.0 percent
Penalties: 9.0 pim/gm

Team Leaders
Goals: Dylan Clarke (18)
Assists: Eric Satim (22)
Points: Eric Satim (35)
Power-play Goals: Dylan Clarke (10)
Short-handed Goals: Four Players (1)
GAA: Josh Leis (2.33)
Save Pct.: Josh Leis (.906)

Conference Playoffs:
play-in — defeated Morrisville, 4-3 (OT), semifinals –  defeated Geneseo, 3-2 (OT), championship — defeated Fredonia, 4-1

The Plattsburgh season has been one of multiple dimensions.

There is the time dimension. The Cardinals started the season out at 2-4. Then, in their next 12 games, they went 11-0-1. Afterwards, they reverted to a 2-3 string before winning their last five games.

“Our season overall was very satisfying from the perspective we came to play every night and we had good leadership,” Plattsburgh coach Bob Emery said. “Just at times, we had trouble keeping the puck out of the net.”

There is also the league dimension. Plattsburgh went undefeated outside the SUNYAC at 11-0-1, including victories over Norwich twice, Neumann, Curry, Middlebury, Williams, and a tie against Elmira. However, within their conference, they only went 9-7, finishing in fourth place.

“We’re the number two seed in the East, and we finished fourth in our league,” Emery said. “That says something about our league.”

Then, there is the style dimension. Plattsburgh had to rely less on offense and more on defense. Yes, they had a bunch of games where they scored seven goals, one where they scored nine, but more often than not, against their toughest competition, it didn’t come easy.

“We’re an aggressive team,” Emery said. “We’re a puck possession team that lacks high-end scorers. For us to win games, we have to play defensively.”

Dylan Clarke did score a lot of goals, but behind him, it was more spread out amongst Eric Satim, Nick Jensen, Patrick Jobb, Vick Schlueter, and Kyle Kudroch. Plattsburgh is not afraid to do what it takes to score a goal — crashing the net, digging it out of the corner, taking the check.

Josh Leis’ numbers were off from last season, but in the playoffs, he has been playing his best yet in goal.

Plattsburgh may be aggressive, but they are very disciplined. They have only committed nine minutes of penalties per game, and Emery has consistently benched players who have taken undisciplined penalties.

After the Morrisville game in February, a game which Plattsburgh won, Emery was livid over the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty Clarke took. He subsequently sat him out in a later game against Potsdam.

“We are going to be a disciplined team whether we win or not,” Emery said after that Morrisville game. “I’m not going to settle for it. I think that was the first unsportsmanlike penalty I’ve had in 15, 16 years. I’m not going to tolerate it. Guys aren’t going to play if they take bad penalties.”

After that game, Plattsburgh never committed more than five penalties in a game, gave up just three power-play goals, and lost once.

Emery and Plattsburgh have plenty experience in the playoffs, so they know exactly what the situation is.

“At this time of year, there are no bad teams left,” he said. “As of Saturday, we are going to be one of the best eight teams in the country. You have to do all the little things right.”

Plattsburgh doesn’t score pretty many times, they protect their net, and Leis is playing exceptionally well down the stretch. The Cardinals seem to have a knack of finding a way to at least get to the national semifinals.

“Our team has had confidence all year long,” Emery said. “That hasn’t been a problem.”

Confidence. Execution. Discipline. If they can combine those three, Plattsburgh could add another dimension to their season.