NCAA preview: Trinity v. Plattsburgh

Plattsburgh at Trinity (7:00 pm)

Trinity, the winner of back-to-back NESCAC championships, has a decided statistical advantage over Plattsburgh, this year’s SUNYAC champion, in virtually every important statistical category, including both offense and defense. But this first-round NCAA play-off game is to be decided on the ice rather than by past statistics. Plattsburgh has some important intangibles in its favor – like the momentum associated with a strong close (a 11-1-1 finish, culminating in the league championship) but those intangibles do not clearly outweigh Trinity’s, whose season had a similar trajectory, so perhaps a wash.

Plattsburgh has some offensive depth but no flashy scorers, with 11 double-digit scorers but with its 2 top scorers maxing out at the modest point total of 21 (Joe Drabin ’20 (11-10-21); and d-man Ayrton Valente ’18 (6-15-21)). Trinity, in contrast, has 4 30+ scorers (Sean Orlando ’17 (15-18-33); Tyler Whitney ’18 (12-20-32); Anthony Sabitsky ’18 (16-15-31); and Ryan Cole ’17 (13-17-30)) and a host of other offensive threats. On the defensive end, Trinity has an excellent corps of d-men and a solid goalie in junior Alex Morin (1.88 GAA (no. 7 in D3) and .930 save percentage (no. 14 in D3)). Plattsburgh’s greatest vulnerability may very well lie on its side of the blue line where its no. 1 goalie (and Quinnipiac transfer), Brady Rouleau, has compiled mediocre numbers (2.84 in GAA (no. 60 in D3) and .895 in save percentage (no. 87 in D3)) and the team’s overall defensive numbers are unimpressive (surrendering 3.26 GPG or tied for the no. 53 defense in D3). Rouleau can rise to the occasion, however, as he backstopped Platty to its SUNYAC championship with a 3-2 win over regular season champion, Oswego, in the conference finals and was named tournament MVP.

In term of recent NCAA history, the teams are roughly comparable with each registering one national championship (Trinity in 2015 and Platty in 2001), with Trinity compiling a 6-4 win-loss record and Plattsburgh a 9-8 record in the NCAA post-season during the 2001-16 time period. Plattsburgh, however, has struggled mightily in recent NCAA ventures, being eliminated in its first game in its last 3 appearances (2011, 2012, and 2015), with is only win in its last 6 NCAA games being a 3-2 OT win over Middlebury in the 2010 quarterfinals. Most recently (and in their only other meeting in the post-season), Trinity handily defeated Plattsburgh 5-1 in the quarterfinal along the way to its 2015 national championship, with Rouleau taking the loss for Platty and much of the scoring taking place in the third period.

On the flip side, Plattsburgh did very well in the 4 games it played against NESCAC foes this season, winning all 4 games on home ice, with 2 5-2 wins over Middlebury, a 5-3 victory over NESCAC semifinalist Wesleyan, and a 3-1 win over NESCAC semifinalist Williams in a dominating performance (a 36-16 edge in SoGs). Of course, Trinity also had its way with the same 3 teams this season, losing 1 of 2 regular season games to Williams but eliminating the Ephs from the NESCAC play-offs and compiling an overall record of 6-1 against the same 3 teams.

In the end, the combination of offensive and defensive superiority, along with strong momentum, the focus of its strong and battle-tested senior class, and home ice, combine for a Trinity win as it launches a new bid for a national championship.

Pick: Trinity downs Plattsburgh in a tough battle

The Numbers:

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