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February 25, 2012

Plattsburgh heads into playoffs looking for more goals

PLATTSBURGH — The Cardinals knew they wouldn’t be a high-scoring team this season — they lost their top two scorers from last year, and they emphasize defense first anyway.

But lately goals have been especially hard to come by. It’s a trend Plattsburgh State is trying to change as it begins the SUNY Athletic Conference men’s hockey playoffs.

“Some people think it’s puck luck. I’m a believer in you make your own breaks,” Plattsburgh coach Bob Emery said. “I tell the team all the time, the only thing they can control is their self-discipline and their hard work.

“We gotta go out there and control our hard work and self-discipline and see where that takes us.”

The second-seeded Cardinals (17-4-4) host third-seeded Buffalo State in a semifinal tonight. Fredonia meets Oswego in the other game, and the highest remaining seed will host next week’s championship game.

The Bengals (13-11-2) beat Plattsburgh early in the season and lost at Stafford Ice Arena three weeks ago despite holding the Cardinals to one goal.

Low-scoring games like that have been the norm for the Cardinals recently. In the last three weeks, they’ve tallied just 11 goals in six games. They lost two of those and eked out one-goal victories in the others, including two in overtime.

Their season average is 3.36 goals per game, which puts them tied for 28th in Division III. Plattsburgh is ranked fourth in the USCHO.com Division III Men’s Poll, and the rest of the top-five teams are all in the top 15 in the country in scoring offense.

The Cardinals have been creating chances — they had 52 shots on net in last Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win at Cortland — and forward Nick Jensen said they just need to focus on putting them away. Emery changed the lineup in the last game, and they’ve been trying to crash the net more.

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