By COURTNEY LEWIS Press-Republican
---- — PLATTSBURGH — When fans get their first look at the 2013-14 Plattsburgh State men’s hockey team, they’ll see seven new faces.
The freshman class will don Cardinals jerseys for the first time during the Red and White game at 7 p.m. Saturday at Stafford Ice Arena.
The Cardinals graduated five players from a team that went 19-7-1 last year, and they lost four other players. That leaves them with a roster where 15 of the 27 players are freshmen or sophomores.
“We’re real young. But that doesn’t change expectations,” coach Bob Emery said. “We’re not going to use any excuses.”
Among the newcomers are four forwards. Graham Yeo and Kyle Hall are both described in their team biographies as two-way players. Yeo is a 6-foot-1-inch, 191-pound native of Bracebridge, Ontario who played in the Ontario Junior Hockey League and is a faceoff specialist. Hall, who’s listed at 5 feet 11 inches and 165 pounds, is from Assiniboia, Saskatchewan and played in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. He’s good in transition and may be used in both special-teams and even-strength situations.
Josh Koerner is a Montgomery native who played his junior hockey in Florida. The 5-foot-9-inch, 166-pound forward’s biggest weapon is his speed. Dakota Mason, who’s 6 feet 1 inch and 166 pounds, is described as a playmaker. According to his biography, the Edmonton, Alberta native scored the goal that gave the Brooks Bandits the Junior A national championship in 2013.
Plattsburgh also added two players to its defensive corps, which lost four skaters. Calgary, Alberta native Derek Patterson is a defensive defenseman who brings the Cardinals some size — he stands 6 feet 5 inches and weighs in at 217. Patterson played his junior hockey in Buffalo. Patrick Hermans of North Andover, Mass. can jump into the rush and is expected to be a leader even as a freshman. The 6-foot-1-inch, 191-pound blueliner is a graduate of the Northwood School.
Last season, four of Plattsburgh’s top six scorers were freshmen, and Emery called some of them the most skilled players on the team. The coach said this year’s class has skill but also some grittiness.
“We were trying to get a mix,” Emery said. “We lost our toughest player in Jared Docking. We wanted to try to get some grit as well. I think we did that in the back end with Hermans and Patterson.
“At forward, we were trying to get some guys who can play a role on the penalty kill, play a role as a defensive forward and then put up points if necessary. So we have a couple of those and a couple of skill guys.”
Rounding out the freshman class is goaltender Connor Creech. He’s from Lloydminster, Alberta and played for the Battlefords North Stars alongside Hall. Creech uses his 6-foot-2-inch, 214-pound frame to take away the net but is also described in his biography as athletic and mobile.
He gives the Cardinals three goalies, joining Mathieu Cadieux, who started the majority of games the last two seasons, and fellow senior Sam Foley.
Emery said the freshmen have been “looking pretty good,” although he added that it’s always a big adjustment when going from junior hockey to the college game.
“Every year, I’m a big believer that we’re going to rely on our freshman class,” Emery said. “It’s no different this year. We’re going to rely on some freshmen to come in and make a major contribution. Maybe not right away, but I think by Christmastime.”
Plattsburgh opens its season Nov. 1 at home against Potsdam. With the start of the season pushed back by a new NCAA mandate, Emery said it’s been a long preseason and the Cardinals are anxious to play.
The Red and White game “will be a dress rehearsal. The players are excited to play in front of some of the fans,” Emery said. “And we can hopefully show some of the fans what they can expect this season.”
Email Courtney Lewis:firstname.lastname@example.org