The Plattsburgh State men’s hockey team heads to Morrisville this weekend, and for the first time since the Mustangs joined the SUNY Athletic Conference, it will be a two-game weekend for both teams.
The conference changed the schedule this season so that each team plays its two games against Morrisville in one weekend rather than in a home-and-home series. The Cardinals visit Morrisville this year and will host both games next year.
Because there is an odd number of teams in the conference, Morrisville does not have a travel partner. In the past, Plattsburgh would have just one game on weekends that it played the Mustangs.
Plattsburgh coach Bob Emery said the change makes sense, adding that the old schedule wasn’t fair to the Mustangs because their opponents would have a single game, while they’d have to prepare for two different opponents and play two games.
“I think it’s pretty good,” he said. “It wasn’t great going down there for one game.”
The coach said that knowing they’d play the same team twice didn’t change much this week for the Cardinals (4-0-1, 4-0-1 SUNYAC).
“It’s definitely harder to beat the same team two times in a row, especially on the road,” Emery said. “Preparation for Friday is the same (as usual). Preparation for Saturday is different because it’s the same team. You’d hope there would be less work for our coaching staff on Saturday. But knowing our coaching staff, we’ll still be working just as hard.”
Morrisville’s lone win came against Buffalo State. Last weekend, the Mustangs tied Cortland 4-4 and then lost 6-1 the next night.
Mike Dolman, who has eight assists and one goal, leads the team in scoring. Ryan Marcuz is next with five goals and three assists. Senior Christopher Azzano has been in net for four five games and is 0-4-1.
“They’re a really chippy team, no doubt about it,” Emery said. “I expect to see them play hard, play chippy, try to take us off our game.”
The Mustangs (1-4-1, 1-4-1) have shown they can score — they’ve netted 18 goals in six games and have scored four or more on three occasions. But at the other end, they’ve given up 32 goals. Their 5.33 goals allowed per game ties them for 69th out of 72 Division III teams.
Plattsburgh, on the other hand, has the stingiest defense in the country so far this season, having allowed just four goals in five games.
Goaltender Mathieu Cadieux boasts a 0.79 GAA and a .966 save percentage.
Sophomore forward Dillan Fox leads the Cardinals offensively with three goals and three assists. Mark Constantine (3-2-5), Luke Baleshta (1-4-5) and Alex Jensen (0-5-5) are right behind him.
The fourth-ranked Cardinals are coming off a three-point road trip: they beat Fredonia and tied Buffalo State. Plattsburgh holds a two-point lead in the SUNYAC standings, and the second-place Bengals have played an additional game.
Plattsburgh’s lineup will see some changes this weekend, partly because the Cardinals took nine penalties against Buffalo State. Emery said he doesn’t announce his lineup until the day of the game, “but there will be some guys sitting for lack of discipline.”
In addition, senior defenseman Nick Jensen, who has missed the last four games with a hand injury, is still out this weekend and freshman forward Dakota Mason did not make the trip because of an injury. Emery said both players are “week-to-week.”
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