BY COURTNEY LEWIS
---- — PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh State men’s hockey team made it look easy against Geneseo two weeks ago.
But the Cardinals also remember getting beat by the same team in November, so they know tonight’s matchup could be a battle.
“That loss is definitely in the back of our minds,” Plattsburgh forward Kevin Emmerling said. “It was a tough loss going down there and playing. So yeah, it’s definitely on our minds. We know we want to come out flying and get that win.”
No. 2 Plattsburgh hosts No. 3 Geneseo tonight for 7 p.m. in a SUNY Athletic Conference semifinal. Oswego faces Buffalo State in the other semifinal, and the winners will meet in next week’s championship game.
Geneseo (17-8-1) reached today’s contest by routing Potsdam 9-0 in Wednesday’s quarterfinals. David Ripple had two goals and an assist in that game, and he’s tied for third on the team with 22 points. Zachary Vit leads the Knights with a 7-20-27 scoring line, and Jack Caradonna is next with 23 points, including a team-best 21 assists.
Adrian Rubeniuk and Bryan Haude have shared goaltending duties this season. Haude was in net Wednesday, when he made 22 saves for his fifth shutout of the season. The sophomore also played in both regular-season games against Plattsburgh.
“They’re a hard-working team. They’re a great team,” Emmerling said. “They get pucks in, play good defense. I think if we just get the puck to the net like we’ve been doing and play solid defense, just keep doing what we’ve been doing … I think we’ll be all right.
“But it’s a good team. We’re going to come ready to play, and we’re going to see what happens.”
Geneseo has one of the better power plays in Division III, with a 27.5 percent success rate that ranks sixth. Ryan Bulach leads the team with seven power-play goals.
The Knights edged Plattsburgh 3-2 in Geneseo Nov. 16, and then Plattsburgh skated to a 6-1 win Feb. 8 at Stafford Ice Arena.
Plattsburgh (18-6-1) earned a quarterfinal bye in the tournament after finishing second in the conference in the regular season. The Cardinals won their final four regular-season games and nine of their last 10.
Jared Docking sits atop their scoring list with 28 points (10 goals, 18 assists), followed closely by Luke Baleshta (7-18-25) and Emmerling (14-10-24). Mathieu Cadieux boasts a 1.75 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage.
The Cardinals know they’re unlikely to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III tournament, so they need to keep winning to extend their season.
“I think every game we’re always ready to go, but … maybe a little more sense of urgency coming into the playoffs,” Emmerling said. “Everybody’s ready; everybody’s on top of their game.
“It’s always a little bit faster, always a little bit more physical. So just working on the little things and keep going.”
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Cardinal Q&A To watch this week's video featuring freshman forward Kevin Emmerling, visit blog.pressrepublican.com/play-ball/.