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January 11, 2013

Cardinals refocus on defense

PLATTSBURGH — Coach Bob Emery said the Plattsburgh State men’s hockey team needs to get back to its bread and butter:  tough defense.

The 10th-ranked Cardinals are 2-2 since returning from the semester break, and Emery said they played poor defense in their two losses.

They host Middlebury and Williams this weekend for the last two nonconference games on their schedule.

The Cardinals (9-5-1) started the year with an increased focus on goal scoring, but Emery stipulated that it couldn’t be at the expense of defense. Lately, he said, the defense has lapsed. He thought they played poorly in their own end in a 3-2 loss to Amherst in the Cardinal Classic, and then they allowed a season-high five goals while falling to Castleton last Saturday.

“So this first semester our forwards did not do a good job creating turnovers, finishing checks, playing physical. So I mentioned that a lot, I taught that a lot and preached it a lot,” Emery said. “And I think our defense thought, ‘OK, we’re the bomb back here. We don’t need to play defense anymore. It’s our forwards that are the reason why we’re not being good.’

“Bang. Two games later, it’s our defense. So I think, you know, it’s a focus problem.”

The season has been an up-and-down one for Plattsburgh. The team started the season with two weekend sweeps, and it hasn’t had a four-point weekend since. The Cardinals split their last two weekends.

“It’s hard to put a finger on our lack of success, if you will, of our season,” Emery said. “I think our season started off maybe too easy for us. All our games were at home. We didn’t have any real tough opponents outside of Oswego. So I think it gave us a false sense of hope that we might have been better than we were.

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