By COURTNEY LEWIS
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Mike Grace’s shot from just inside the blue line broke a 1-1 tie in the third period — and opened the floodgates.
Plattsburgh State, which had been peppering the Morrisville net most of the night to little avail, added five more goals before the period ended to open its SUNY Athletic Conference men’s hockey season with a 6-1 win Friday at Stafford Ice Arena.
“I gotta give Morrisville a lot of credit. They played great defense for two periods,” Plattsburgh coach Bob Emery said. “They did a great job, especially in that second period, in front of their goalie.
“And one thing about defense is it’s really hard for a team to sustain 60 minutes of solid defense. So I just think over time they broke a little bit.”
Grace finished with a goal and an assist, and Alex Jensen scored twice and earned a helper.
Plattsburgh outshot Morrisville 19-6 in the second period but couldn’t get the puck past Jakob Rasmussen.
Ryan Farnan had a chance on a power play in the opening minutes, flipping the puck high from the doorstep, but it was knocked away. The line of Alex Jensen, Nick Jensen and Mark Constantine put together a good chance on the rush late in the period, but Constantine’s shot was met with a pad save by Rasmussen.
Grace gave the Cardinals (1-0) their first lead of the game 6:49 into the third during a power play. He released a long shot not expecting it to make it all the way through.
“I just had an open shot. I saw a few of our guys up front, so I figured I might as well put it on net, shoot for a rebound,” the senior defenseman said. “We were putting pucks on net all day; we knew the guy was giving up a few rebounds. So just figured I’d throw it on net, see what happens.”
Less than two minutes later, Kevin Emmerling scored his first career goal after Connor Gorman scooped up a Morrisville turnover in front of the net. And the goals kept coming at a rapid pace for the Cardinals.
Mark Constantine scored a power-play marker from the slot at 11:24 to make it 4-1, and Brandon Beadow finished an odd-man rush by putting the puck in the top corner at 14:43. A minute-and-a-half after that, Alex Jensen took a pass from his brother and netted the final goal of the night. Constantine picked up two assists to go along with his goal.
The Cardinals started the game more slowly, and Grace said first-game nerves probably played a factor.
Ryan Marcuz gave Morrisville a 1-0 lead in the middle of the first period. Then Alex Jensen skated in and wristed a low shot that beat Rasmussen and tied the game.
“Their coach had them ready tonight,” Emery said. “They came out, they played hard. They came in our barn, and they took it to us for about 13 minutes.
“We finally got some momentum towards the last seven minutes of the first.”
Josh Leis started in net for Plattsburgh and made 21 saves to earn the win. Sam Foley played the final few minutes. Mathieu Cadieux was not in the lineup, and Emery said the junior who was in goal for 24 games last year “is not ready to play yet.”
Plattsburgh ended up with a 47-25 advantage in shots. Rasmussen made 38 stops for Morrisville (0-2, 0-1) and was pulled after the Cardinals’ fifth goal.
Both Emery and Grace said the Cardinals’ conditioning work in the preseason showed Friday.
“I think we’re in better shape than a lot of teams,” Grace said. “Just gotta keep working. No game’s an easy game, obviously, since they took us right down to the end. We just gotta be prepared, come out prepared to play.”
Plattsburgh 6, Morrisville 1
Morrisville 1 0 0 — 0
Plattsburgh 1 0 5 — 6
First period- 1, Mor, Marcuz (Chaput), 10:16. 2, PSU, A. Jensen (Kaye), 15:50. Penalties: Jarvis, Mor (interference), 12:33.
Second period- Penalties: Gilbert, Mor (holding), 0:25.
Third period- 3, PSU, Grace (Constantine, Baleshta), 6:49 (pp). 4, PSU, Emmerling (Gorman), 8:38. 5, PSU, Constantine (Grace, A. Jensen), 11:24 (pp). 6, PSU, Beadow (Popp), 14:43. 6, PSU, A. Jensen (N. Jensen, Constantine), 16:10. Penalties: Dol, Mor (boarding), 5:25. Scherer, Mor (elbowing), 11:02. Kaye, PSU (interference), 17:51.
Shots on goal:
Morrisville 8 6 11 — 25
Plattsburgh 15 19 13 — 47
Goaltenders (shots-saves): Rasmussen, Mor, 43-38. Azzano, Mor, 4-3. Leis, PSU, 22-21. Foley, PSU, 3-3.