Heading into final weekend, Cards still tied for first

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Posted: Friday, February 21, 2014 2:23 am

PLATTSBURGH — Like in many seasons, Plattsburgh State’s position in the SUNY Athletic Conference men’s hockey standings will come down to the final weekend of the regular-season, which includes a matchup with Oswego.

But this year the Cardinals are in a fight for first place not with their archrival but with Geneseo.

Plattsburgh hosts Cortland tonight and Oswego on Saturday, and it needs to beat both and get some help. The Cardinals (18-3-2, 11-1-2 SUNYAC) and the Knights (18-5, 12-2) both have 24 points in the conference. If they both win two games this weekend, the Knights will own the tiebreaker because they’ll have more conference victories. Geneseo hosts Buffalo State and Fredonia.

Coach Bob Emery said he’s making sure the Cardinals know everything that’s at stake.

“I think one of our problems as a team is emotion, so I’ll use anything I can to try to get them ready,” Emery said. “They know the importance of the games in the league; obviously they can look at the standings. But more importantly, the NCCA picture’s still in our eyes right now.

“So I think we’ve gotta take care of business with the home games this upcoming weekend.”

Plattsburgh had a hole in its schedule last weekend, so tonight’s game is its first since Feb. 8. Emery is wary of the effects of the time off.

“Early on in the game, we’re going to have to keep it simple because we haven’t played in quite a while,” he said. “We tried to simulate a scrimmage at game time last Saturday night. But in the end, I think we’re going to be a little bit rusty, and we gotta make sure we do a little less with the puck until we get more involved in the game.”

The good thing about the week off is Nick Jensen and Michael Radisa, who were injured in the Cardinals’ last game, have both healed according to Emery.

Cortland led Geneseo after the first period last Saturday but eventually fell 3-2. The Red Dragons (4-15-3, 3-9-2) have not won a game since Dec. 10; they’re 0-9-1 in their last 10.

Plattsburgh won 4-0 in Cortland on Dec. 6. But Emery said the Red Dragons have skill.

“Cortland’s a good team. I watched them in the third period the other night versus Geneseo; they played really well,” Emery said. “So we gotta be on our toes. We gotta play good defensive hockey, make sure we try to play most of the game in their end as much as possible.”

While the Lakers haven’t been quite as good as in recent seasons, they’ve moved into third place. Their first meeting with the Cardinals this season was typically tight — it ended in a 3-3 tie — and Plattsburgh forward Luke Baleshta said to expect “more of the same” on Saturday.

Oswego had won four of its last five before last weekend, when it fell to Geneseo and Brockport at home.

“All teams in this league — any team can win,” Baleshta said. “It’s always nice playing at home, having our fans behind us. And hopefully we can get the two points.”

Email Courtney Lewis:clewis@pressrepublican.comTwitter: @sportsCourt

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