By COURTNEY LEWIS
---- — Plattsburgh State had a lengthy stretch where it had trouble putting together back-to-back wins, but now the Cardinals have won four straight.
They’ll look to keep the streak going as they enter the home stretch of the SUNY Athletic Conference men’s hockey season. Plattsburgh makes its final road trip of the regular season this weekend, visiting Buffalo State tonight and Fredonia Saturday.
“We know we gotta win, and I think everyone’s kinda buying in right now,” Plattsburgh forward Dillan Fox said. “We gotta buckle down here the last few games, big SUNYAC games. Everybody wants to win, so we’re playing good defense and it’s paying off.”
The Cardinals (13-5-1, 8-1-1 SUNYAC) went from mid-November to Mid-January without winning consecutive games. Then they earned a weekend sweep of Middlebury and Williams and beat Morrisville and Potsdam the last two weeks. Assistant coach Steve Moffat said Plattsburgh has been more physical and improved its play in its own end.
“I think we’ve been playing pretty hard, getting pucks in deep, finishing checks,” Moffat said. “Just playing pretty well defensively, too. Not giving up a lot of second chances.
“And when you have a goalie like Chewy (Mathieu Cadieux) back there, he’s going to eat up the first one. As long as we box out and kinda keep teams from getting second and third opportunities, I think we’ll be OK.”
The ninth-ranked Cardinals stand third in the SUNYAC with 17 points. Oswego (20) and Geneseo (19) are ahead of them, although both teams have played more games. After this weekend, Plattsburgh will finish out the regular season with four home games.
Buffalo State (9-9-2, 4-6-1), which is fifth in the conference, lost at Morrisville last week. The team features three forwards who have scored at least 10 goals: Nick Melligan (10-13-23), Mike Zannella (14-6-20) and Trevor McKinney (10-7-17). Kevin Carr has been in net every minute of every game for Buffalo State.
The Bengals have been tough to beat at home — they’re 5-1-2 at the Buffalo State Sports Arena, and their only loss came way back on Oct. 26 against Brockport.
“Buffalo plays us tough. They’re really tough to play against down there,” Moffat said. “Real good defensively, have obviously probably one of the top couple of goalies in the league, so just trying to get pucks on net. And, as we always talk about, be ready to win that game 1-0 if need be.”
The Cardinals beat the Bengals 6-1 at Stafford Ice Arena in November.
Fredonia (5-13-2, 3-7-1) has not won a game since Dec. 7, going 0-7-2 in that span.
Plattsburgh has been without injured forward Mark Constantine the last two games, and Moffat said he didn’t think the sophomore would be back tonight.
Fox said the Cardinals need to keep their momentum going this weekend.
“Just gotta play like we do at home. It’s always easy to play at home, but on the road we kind of sometimes don’t come with the same intensity,” Fox said. “So we just gotta match that like we do at home and play like we’re one of the top teams in the country, like we are. And just play defense-first, and the rest will come.”
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