PLATTSBURGH — As the Plattsburgh State men’s hockey team gets back into gear this weekend, fans will see the welcome return of a key player plus a new name on the roster.
The Cardinals (9-0-2) will be back in action for the first time since Dec. 7 when they host the Buck Supply Winter Classic this weekend. They’ll play Hamilton tonight at Stafford Ice Arena after Hobart and Williams face off in the afternoon. The winners will meet in Saturday’s championship game, held after the consolation contest.
“After a break, the good thing about it is you get excited to get going again,” Plattsburgh coach Bob Emery said. “I think the guys are chomping at the bit. They haven’t played a game in a long time, so they shouldn’t have any trouble getting ready for the game.”
Senior Nick Jensen has been off even longer than most. The defenseman broke his hand in the first game of the season and missed the rest of the first semester. Emery said Jensen is “good to go.”
“He’s gonna play,” Emery said. “I think he’s a valuable player to any team, and especially to our team. Gotta get him back in there and get him some playing time.”
The coach said there were a few roster changes over the break. Most notable is the addition of sophomore goaltender Spencer Finney. The Pontypool, Ont., native played 23 games for Colgate last season, but after seeing action in just three contests in the first semester this season, he transferred to Plattsburgh.
Finney allowed 10 goals in the three games he played this season; as a freshman, he posted a .904 save percentage and a 2.68 goals-against average.
Freshman goaltender Connor Creech, who did not see ice time in the first semester, did not return to the team. The Cardinals also lost freshman Derek Patterson. The defenseman had a knee injury that kept him from playing and was going to keep him out the rest of the year, and he opted not to return.
Emery said he doesn’t know much about the Hamilton squad the Cardinals will face today. The Continentals (3-3-1) finished the first part of the season by recording a tie and a win against fellow NESCAC members Williams and Middlebury.
Williams (5-0-2) is ranked seventh in the USCHO.com Division III Men’s Poll and edged Amherst 1-0 in the last game of the first semester. Hobart (2-4-4), an ECAC West team, lost its three games. The Statesmen have gone to overtime six times this season.
Plattsburgh did not drop a game in the first semester and starts the second semester as the top-ranked team in Division III. Emery said the Cardinals are focused on improving their power play and their puck management. Forward Luke Baleshta added that they don’t want to change too much.
“We’ve gotta keep doing what we’ve been doing,” Baleshta said. “We don’t want to think about being ranked No. 1. That doesn’t mean anything to us; we kinda want to keep that out of our head. And Chewy (goalie Mathieu Cadieux) has been unbelievable so far.
“He’s going to obviously keep it going. We have to pick it up for him, because without him in a couple of games, we probably wouldn’t have won those games. So he’s been unbelievable, and hopefully we can play a little better in the second half for him.”
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