By COURTNEY LEWIS
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Plattsburgh State and Geneseo both face an uphill road to first place in SUNY Athletic Conference men’s hockey, but one of them can get a firm grip on second tonight.
Both teams trail first-place Oswego in the standings and would need some help to catch the Lakers. The second-place finisher also receives a first-round bye in the SUNYAC tournament and home ice in the semifinals.
The Cardinals host Geneseo tonight and Brockport on Saturday as the regular season enters the final two weekends.
“We have the standings in the locker room and they get updated every week, so we know how big they are and we know these next four games we gotta win every one of them,” Plattsburgh forward Dillan Fox said. “So, you know, every SUNYAC game’s a big game, but now they’re getting even bigger.”
The Knights (15-6-1, 10-2-1 SUNYAC) are currently second with 21 points, and they have three games left. The Cardinals (14-6-1, 9-2-1) have 19 points with four games remaining. Oswego (22 points) also has four left.
If Plattsburgh wins tonight, it will be in great position to finish in at least second place. Likewise, if the Knights win, Plattsburgh won’t be able to catch them unless they falter in one of their final two games.
Geneseo beat Plattsburgh 3-2 in November, when Devon Rice scored with 57 seconds left.
The 14th-ranked Knights have won seven of their last eight, with the only loss during that stretch coming against Oswego. Their only other defeat in the second semester was to Adrian, which is currently ranked seventh.
Zachary Vit leads the team in scoring with six goals and 16 assists. Jack Caradonna has a 2-18-20 line. Adrian Rubeniuk and Bryan Haude have handled most of the goaltending duties this season.
“I think the jury’s still out on what Geneseo’s going to bring,” Plattsburgh coach Bob Emery said. “I think they’ve got a lot of numbers; they’ve got four lines that can play, so they might come at us. Or they might not.
“I do know they’re probably going to watch the tape from this past weekend. Both Fredonia and Buffalo played a lot alike, and we could see that as well.”
No. 9 Plattsburgh had been on a five-game winning streak until falling at Fredonia last Saturday. Emery said the Cardinals played well in that game except for one stretch early in the third period.
“I do think we have to play with a sense of urgency and more desperate at times,” he said.
Jared Docking tops Plattsburgh’s scoring list with 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists), and Luke Baleshta is right behind him with 21, including a team-high 14 assists.
“We gotta persevere,” Emery said. “I’m a big believer in the power of now. Learn from the past, but the only thing you can control is the present.”
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