By COURTNEY LEWIS
---- — After starting the season with a dangerous power play, Plattsburgh State has scored just two goals during the man advantage in its last seven games.
The Cardinals, who are on the road against Skidmore and Castleton this weekend, have been putting in extra work on the power play.
“We’re struggling a bit,” sophomore forward Alex Jensen said. “We started out real hot; then lately coming into break we struggled. Coming back we’re still kind of trying to find our way with the power play.
“We’re trying too much. We just gotta keep it simple and get some more shots — I think that’s what we’re lacking.”
Plattsburgh (8-4-1) has 14 power-play goals this season, and 12 of them came during the first six games. It ranks 32nd in Division III men’s hockey with a 20.9 percent success rate.
Plattsburgh coach Bob Emery said anything above 25 percent is pretty good, and when the team is playing well it’s often around 30 percent. But he also said those numbers are harder to reach when you’re playing top teams. After the Cardinals went 0-for-5 on the power play against Amherst last weekend, he noted that their power play has been pretty quiet against elite teams.
They’re 1-for-24 when playing opponents that were ranked in the USCHO.com Division III Men’s Poll at the time, with the only goal coming against St. Thomas in the PrimeLink Great Northern Shootout.
Jensen said it’s important to make sure you’re not stagnant during a power play.
“We gotta move,” he said. “As long as everyone is skating and not standing still. If we’re moving or taking the puck to the net and not looking for the extra pass, or shoot instead of passing, I think that’s the key.”
Luke Baleshta leads the team with four power-play goals, and Mark Constantine is next with three.
Plattsburgh did net one last weekend, courtesy of Jared Docking against Wesleyan. Emery said the Cardinals worked on the power play in practice twice this week.
“I think we worked the power play well last weekend; we just didn’t do a good job bringing it up the ice,” Emery said. “We’ve watched a lot of video. Coach (Steve) Moffat has spent hours and hours on it on video. So hopefully we can keep working on it.”
This weekend, No. 9 Plattsburgh continues its stretch of six straight nonconference games to start the second semester. Tonight’s game will be played at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Skidmore (5-5-2) will be playing its first contest in a month. It ended the first semester with losses to Castleton and Curry on Dec. 7 and 8.
“Skidmore’s a well coached team,” Emery said. “They’re gonna play torpedo-style hockey a lot like Middlebury, so we’ve got our work cut out for us. It’s a little bit bigger rink, and I think we’re a good skating team so the size of the rink will help us.”
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Cardinal Q&A To watch this week's video featuring Alex Jensen and Bob Emery, visit blog.pressrepublican.com/play-ball/.