OSWEGO, N.Y. – With injuries plaguing the back line, the Plattsburgh State men's hockey team overcame the odds to defeat the top-ranked and previously unbeaten Oswego State Lakers, 2-1, in a State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) matchup Saturday night at the Campus Center Ice Arena.
Mathieu Cadieux gave the Cardinals a stellar performance in net by stopping 34 of the 35 shots he faced to lead Plattsburgh State to victory. Cadieux improves to 4-2-1 on the year.
The Cardinals entered Saturday's game with only five healthy defensemen after losing Preston Kaye, Anthony Calabrese and Brandon Beadow to injuries. With junior forward Nick Jensen already penciled in on defense, it appeared the bad luck would continue as senior defenseman Mike Grace was helped off the ice after a hit into the boards just 15 seconds into the game. Luckily for the Cardinals, Grace was not seriously injured and returned in the second period.
Plattsburgh State (7-2-1, 6-1-1 SUNYAC) came out strong to start the game, outshooting Oswego State (8-1-0, 7-1-0 SUNYAC) by a 15-9 margin in the first period. With the teams skating 4-on-4 early in the game, the Cardinals were able to strike first on Paul Puglisi's first on the year at the 5:10 mark from Jared Docking and Jake Mooney. Puglisi gathered the puck just inside the blue line and fired a shot through a screen that found its way past Oswego State goaltender Andrew Hare to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.
With seven minutes remaining in the first and Plattsburgh on the penalty kill, sophomore forward Alex Brenton came in on a breakaway and sent his shot through the five-hole of Hare to make it 2-0 in favor of the Cardinals. The unassisted short-handed goal was Brenton's sixth of the season.
The Cardinals ran into penalty trouble early in the second period but were able to kill off back-to-back 5-on-3 opportunities for the Lakers. Oswego State held a 13-6 advantage in shots in the middle frame with its best scoring chance coming late in the period. Lakers' forward Paul Rodrigues was at point-blank range and held the puck long enough to make Cadieux commit before ripping a shot off the right post.
Midway through the third period, Plattsburgh took consecutive hooking penalties to give the Lakers a man-advantage for almost four minutes. After a flurry of shots from Oswego, the Lakers were finally able to find the back of the net with four seconds left on the second power play. Bobby Gertsakis fired a high shot that bounced off the glass and back to the crease where Chris Muise buried the rebound past Cadieux to make it a 2-1 game at 11:07.
The Lakers threw everything they had at the Cardinals from that point forward as Plattsburgh struggled to get out of their own end for the final 10 minutes. Oswego State pulled Hare with 1:03 remaining in regulation for the extra skater but Plattsburgh State Head Coach Bob Emery called a timeout with 51 seconds left to allow the Cardinals time to regroup and devise a plan to keep the Lakers off the board the rest of the way.
Plattsburgh finished the game 0-for-6 on the power play, while Oswego went 1-for-8.
Hare recorded 24 saves for the Lakers, suffering his first loss of the season.
With the win, the Cardinals finish the first half of conference play one point behind the Lakers in the SUNYAC standings. Plattsburgh, which has now won the last two meetings between these teams, will host Oswego State in the regular-season finale on Feb. 16 in what proves to be a highly-anticipated rematch.
One more game stands between Plattsburgh State and the semester break. The Cardinals will close out the first semester Friday night in a non-conference game at 7 p.m. against No. 2 Norwich University. The Plattsburgh State men's hockey team is asking all fans to bring a new, unwrapped toy to Friday's game for the Annual Chefy's Toys for Tots Drive. Collection bins will be located throughout the Field House for toy collection at Friday's game. In addition to Chefy's Toys for Tots, Friday's game will also be Poster Night.