PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. - The third-ranked and top-seeded Plattsburgh State men's hockey team defeated No. 4-seed Potsdam, 6-0, in the State University of New York Athletic Conference tournament semifinals before a crowd of 2,180 at Stafford Ice Arena on Saturday night. The Cardinals (22-4) avenge a 4-2 road loss to the Bears (10-13-4) in the regular-season finale eight days earlier, and outscored their North Country rivals 17-1 on home ice to take the season series 2-1.
Plattsburgh now advances to the SUNYAC championship game for the 17th straight year next Saturday (March 1, 7 p.m.) at Stafford Ice Arena. The Cardinals will face defending national champion Oswego, which defeated last year's conference winner Fredonia, 4-1, in the other SUNYAC semifinal tonight.
The Cardinals converted on four of seven power play chances, including two scores by defenseman Nick Rolls, against the Bears. Freshman Dylan Clarke opened the scoring just 3 minutes and 53 seconds into the game with his team-leading 17th goal of the season. Ward Smith and Andrew Willock assisted on the power play goal. Willock scored himself just 1:18 later on a pass from Clarke. Phil Farrow upped it to 3-0 late in the first period on rising shot over Bears goalie Rob Barnhardt.
Barnhardt finished with 28 saves while his counterpart Bryan Hince stopped 26 shots. The freshman netminder recorded Plattsburgh's first postseason shutout since Feb. 18, 2005, when the Cardinals aced Potsdam 6-0 in the SUNYAC Quarterfinals Game 1.
To round out the scoring, Kyle VanderMale scored a breakaway goal midway through the second period as Joey Wilson connected with the freshman on a long pass from the Plattsburgh end to the opposite blue line, and Rolls later added a pair of goals.
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