PLATTSBURGH — As soon as players join the Plattsburgh State men's hockey team, they're sent a clear message that they'll be expected to play with discipline.
"That might be the first thing (coach Bob Emery) says, is we're going to be the most disciplined team in the country," junior Patrick Jobb said. "I think it's something like four or five of the last five or six years we've been the least penalized team in the country. So it's something we preach all the time — staying out of the penalty box and being disciplined on and off the ice."
The third-ranked Cardinals (12-2-4, 7-1-1 SUNYAC) host Potsdam tonight for a SUNY Athletic Conference game.
Emery said discipline and hard work are the foundation of the Plattsburgh program, and this year's numbers reflect that. The Cardinals currently rank 70th out of 71 Division III teams in penalty minutes.
They've totaled 137 minutes for an average of 7.6 per game. That's less than half as many as a lot of teams have. Suffolk, which sits at the top of the list, is averaging 27.5 minutes per game and has totaled 412.
Jobb said not every penalty is viewed as a negative; it's certain kinds that irk the coaching staff. He said the coaches don't get on a player "if you're taking a good penalty that needs to be taken."
"We always say we kill off the tough ones, or the hard penalties," he added. "But it's the stupid penalties that we try to stay away from as a team."
Emery doesn't hesitate to bench players who don't show the kind of discipline he demands. Plattsburgh started the season with five players serving suspensions for off-ice transgressions, and several players have been punished for taking penalties.