Plattsburgh State took down the No.1 team in Division III men’s hockey last week.
Now the Cardinals will try to do it all over again.
Fresh off a road win over Oswego, Plattsburgh hosts the new No. 1 in the USCHO.com Division III Men’s Poll, Norwich, tonight in both teams’ final game of the first semester.
“It takes two great efforts to play the two No. 1 teams right back-to-back,” Plattsburgh defenseman Paul Puglisi said. “But it’s good, too, just kind of keeping that same intensity up. You know what it took last game, so you know what it’s going to take again.”
Norwich (9-0) went on the road last weekend, beating Skidmore 7-3 and Castleton 2-1. Travis Janke (5-12-17) is tied for sixth in the country in points per game, and Colin Mulvey is another scoring threat, with eight goals and eight assists so far.
The Cadets rank in the top 10 in both scoring offense and scoring defense, and their power play is eighth in the country with a 27.8 percent success rate.
“Norwich, like Oswego, has a big senior class,” Plattsburgh coach Bob Emery said. “The forwards are really explosive like Oswego’s. One thing we want to do is don’t give momentum by taking penalties. We can’t get into the box and let them get momentum going by getting on the power play.
“They forecheck well, so it’s a real good college-hockey style of hockey. They play hard without the puck.”
Plattsburgh lost to the Cadets 3-0 in last year’s PrimeLink Great Northern Shootout and later tied them 4-4.
The seventh-ranked Cardinals (7-2-1) are currently shorthanded on defense. They started the Oswego game with five true blueliners, and then an already banged-up Mike Grace got hurt and missed part of the game. Forward Nick Jensen switched to defense for that game.
Emery said Brandon Beadow and Anthony Calabrese will both still be out this week. Whether Jensen has to play defense again will depend on the availability of Preston Kaye, who has missed the last eight games. Emery said that will probably be a “game-time decision.”
The undermanned defense helped hold the high-scoring Lakers to just one goal.
“So we know what it’s going to take. It’s going to be another hard-working game against a great team,” Puglisi said. “But just knowing that Chewy (goalie Mathieu Cadieux) is going to be pretty rock solid back there helps out our confidence a lot, too.”
The Oswego game could prove to be a turning point for the Cardinals. They tied Cortland the night before, leading Emery to say they still needed to find their identity. He also questioned the leadership.
Puglisi, a senior captain, was one who took notice.
“Yeah, absolutely. Being one of the leaders, not only on the defense but just for the team, I feel like when he calls you out, I mean, you need to really step up,” Puglisi said. “So him calling us out, that makes me really kind of perk up and listen, know I gotta turn it around.”
Plattsburgh sometimes dresses nine or 10 freshmen, along with a handful of sophomores, so Emery said it’s not surprising it’s taking some time for the team to figure out its identity. He and Puglisi both said the Cardinals took a step in the right direction against Oswego.
“So as far as establishing our identity, I think it’s going to take more than one game to really establish it,” Puglisi said. “But I think we’re on our way.”
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