---- — PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh State men’s hockey team is hitting the road for the first time this season for what coach Bob Emery said is typically one of its toughest away games.
The Cardinals, who are ranked fourth in the USCHO.com Division III Men’s Poll, will face North Country rival Potsdam in a SUNY Athletic Conference game tonight.
“I think Potsdam’s one of the toughest games all season long — at Potsdam,” Emery said. “We’ve lost a lot of times over the years there. We’ve won a lot of close battles. It’s just a very hard situation to go in there and try to play.”
The Bears (2-0, 1-0 SUNYAC) are coming off a 9-5 win over Morrisville last Saturday. They edged St. Michael’s 4-3 in overtime the night before.
Potsdam returned four of its top five scorers from last season, including senior forward Matt Viola, who has two goals and four assists so far, and sophomore forward Trevor Cope (six assists).
Among the newcomers is Zach Blake, a sophomore forward who transferred from Plattsburgh. Blake, who played in just four games last season, score the game-winner for the Bears against St. Michael’s.
Potsdam has three new goaltenders this season. Freshman Austin Keiser and sophomore Shane Talarico have each earned a victory. Jon Hall, a freshman, was also in net briefly last weekend.
“They’re going to come out flying. Their biggest game of the year is against us,” Emery said. “So we gotta weather the storm. And try to do our best to equal their emotion, that’s first and foremost.”
The Bears are playing their home game at Massena Arena this season while their usual venue, Maxcy Ice Arena, is being renovated.
The Cardinals (1-0, 1-0) got better as their season opener against Morrisville went along, and goalie Josh Leis said they need to carry over their play from the end of that game to this week’s contest.
Sophomore forward Mark Constantine is Plattsburgh’s early points leader with a goal and two assists, and fellow sophomore Alex Jensen has two goals.
Leis earned the win against the Mustangs. Mathieu Cadieux did not dress for the game, and Emery said he wasn’t ready to play. Cadieux, now a junior, was the Cardinals’ primary goalie last season, appearing in 24 games, and Leis backed him up. Emery said the impetus is on Cadieux to get himself back in the lineup.
“He’s gonna have to show the coaching staff that he’s ready to play. That he’s mentally and physically ready,” Emery said.
Leis was in net for 25 games as a sophomore and played seven games last year. He said he just tries to make the most of his opportunities to play.
“I don’t think anybody’s spot is guaranteed. Any guy on the team, they’re looking behind them seeing the next guy that’s trying to get in the lineup,” Leis said. “If you have a bad game, I’m sure you’re not going to play the next game. So you just gotta keep focused and play your best.”
Email Courtney Lewis: email@example.com