PLATTSBURGH — Bob Emery might need a psychology degree to understand his team's occasional lapses during games.
"If I could jump into the minds of the players after the second period, I'd be a much better coach in the third period," the Plattsburgh State men's hockey coach said. "But you try to read them as best you can and ... you try to do things over and over and preach things over and over so it sticks in their minds.
"That's something I will continue to preach is 60 minutes. And I'll preach that we've gotta get better in the third period."
The third-ranked Cardinals (11-2-4, 6-1-1 SUNYAC) will look to play a complete game when they host SUNY Athletic Conference foe Morrisville tonight.
After they beat Middlebury, 7-0, last Friday, Emery said it was the first time they had played well for a full 60 minutes. But the next night at Williams they took a 2-0 lead into the third and allowed three goals, settling for a tie.
That wasn't the first time the Cardinals gave a team an opening in the final period. In the last game of the first semester, they had a two-goal cushion after two periods against Norwich, but the game ended in a draw. And two weeks ago they beat Castleton 3-2, but Emery said their level of play declined as the game went on.
"We rely on our skill and our systems to dominate games, but lately for us in the third period we've been more just trying to avoid the puck getting in our net while we should just be worried about putting it in their net and just trying to keep it in their end," Vick Schlueter said.
Schlueter said the Cardinals need to be "mentally tough" in the last period, and Kyle Taylor added that they have to make sure they don't lose focus.
"We gotta focus, especially going into the third period, because that's the toughest period to play," Taylor said. "Teams are out to get us every night. So I think it just comes down to focus and playing hard in the third period and doing the little things that Coach wants us to do in the third, and we'll be successful for a full 60."
The rest of Plattsburgh's regular-season schedule features SUNYAC games — four straight at home and then the last four on the road. The Cardinals are second in the conference standings, one point behind Oswego.
Morrisville (3-13-1, 2-6-1) sits at the bottom of the standings and snapped a nine-game losing streak by beating Potsdam on Friday. The Mustangs lost, 6-4, to Plattsburgh in October, but they held a lead twice during that game and they gave Oswego a hard time in November.
"When I'm focused on Morrisville, I'm focused on a team that can beat anyone," Emery said. "They went into Oswego earlier in the year and tied them in their own barn, so we've gotta focus on that and not what their record is or what we did to them last time."
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