By COURTNEY LEWIS
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Plattsburgh State had a golden opportunity in the second period — a five-minute power play.
Alex Brenton took advantage, netting his second goal of the game to give the Cardinals a 2-1 lead, and they went on to a 4-1 SUNY Athletic Conference men’s hockey victory over Cortland at Stafford Ice Arena.
“I thought we won the game tonight on defense,” Plattsburgh coach Bob Emery said. “I think our goalie played pretty well when called upon. I think we did a good job of keeping their shots to the outside and clearing away rebounds.”
Oswego crushed Potsdam 10-0 Friday, clinching first place in the SUNYAC. Plattsburgh’s contest against the Lakers tonight won’t affect the standings or the playoff picture — the Cardinals (17-6-1, 12-2-1 SUNYAC) will finish second regardless of the outcome and will host a semifinal in the conference tournament.
Cortland (7-14-3, 3-10-2) started Friday’s second period with 1:55 left on a power play, and right after the penalty expired, Adam Bevilacqua skated around the back of the net and flicked the puck. It hit Plattsburgh goaltender Mathieu Cadieux and bounced just inside the far post to knot the game at 1-1.
Plattsburgh took a timeout in the middle of the period, and shortly afterward got a five-minute power play after Stephen Nardi hit Dillan Fox in the corner and received a major and a game misconduct. Less than halfway through the penalty, Brenton scored from Brandon Beadow and Mike Grace.
The Cardinals couldn’t connect again during that power play, and Emery said being on special teams for that long may have actually taken them out of their rhythm.
Connor Gorman released a wrist shot from the right circle that gave Plattsburgh a 3-1 cushion 7:23 into the third, and Kevin Emmerling tallied in the middle of the period off a nice cross-ice pass from Barry Roytman. Emmerling finished the game with two points.
Brenton gave the ninth-ranked Cardinals their first lead at 10:37 of the first period.
They held an 18-3 advantage in shots and kept the puck in Cortland’s zone much of the first period. Although they couldn’t pull away until the third, they continued to control possession and ended up outshooting the Red Dragons 45-22.
“We always were in control of the game, but we don’t have that killer instinct to put teams away,” Emery said. “And we play the game in the other team’s end, but we don’t have that little extra drive to get to loose pucks in front of the net and play tough in the opponent’s paint.”
Cadieux earned the win with 21 saves. Cortland’s Lyle Rocker turned away 41 shots.
Oswego has won nine straight games, and its only SUNYAC loss of the season was a 2-1 defeat Dec. 1 against Plattsburgh.
The Cardinals had hoped the regular-season finale would mean more in the standings, but Brenton said the fact that first place is out of reach doesn’t change much.
“No, no. That doesn’t mean anything. (Tonight) we still want to win,” he said.
“We realize (tonight’s) a pretty big game. Oswego’s the second-ranked team, and we respect them, but at the same time we’re going to come out and we’re going to give them the game of their lives.”
Plattsburgh 4, Cortland 1
Cortland 0 1 0 — 1
Plattsburgh 1 1 2 — 4
First period- 1, PSU, Brenton (Cassidy), 10:37. Penalties: Nardi, Cort (interference), 10:44. McNamee, Cort (hitting from behind), 14:23. Puglisi, PSU (hooking), 19:54.
Second period- 2, Cort, Beilacqua, 1:56. 3, PSU, Brenton (Beadow, Grace), 10:56 (pp). Penalties: Lysyj, Cort (roughing the goalie), 6:55. Nardi, Cort (hitting from behind), 9:20. Nardi, Cort (game misconduct), 9:20. Cortland (too many players on the ice), 16:11. Lysyj, Cort (tripping), 17:18.
Third period- 4, PSU, Gorman (Baleshta, Emmerling), 7:23 (pp). 5, PSU, Emmerling (Roytman, Puglisi), 11:13. Penalties: Lysyj, Cort (cross-checking), 5:47. Bevilacqua, Cort (boarding), 9:00. Cassidy, PSU (embellishment), 9:00.
Shots on goal:
Cortland 3 11 8 — 33
Plattsburgh 18 15 12 — 45
Goaltenders (shots-saves): Rocker, Cort, 45-41. Cadieux, PSU, 22-21.
Power play (goals-opportunities): Cortland 0-1, Plattsburgh 2-6.
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