March 15, 2013

Cards take on old foe in NCAAs

SUPERIOR, Wis. — Forget about the unbeaten overall record, the triumph in ECAC West tournament play. 

At this stage of championship hockey, everything is irrelevant.

The No. 1 Plattsburgh State women’s hockey team, 26-0-2 and riding a 29-game unbeaten streak dating back to March 17, 2012, challenges No. 6 Middlebury College today at 4:30 p.m. EDT in the NCAA Division III Women’s Ice Hockey Championships.

This year’s semifinal and championship games will be held at Wessman Arena om the University of Wisconsin-Superior campus.

“You’re 0-0-0 right now,” Cardinals’ coach Kevin Houle said. “All the teams in this tournament are here because they’re real, real good. Everybody has a shot at winning this thing.

“Everything’s out the window right now — the slate is clean. You just have to hope you bring your best effort and you get a bounce of the puck if it comes to the net.”

Plattsburgh earned an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament by winning the program’s third ECAC West title. The Cardinals then defeated St. Norbert (Wisconsin), 5-2, in the NCAA Quarterfinals to secure theirs place at the final four.

“Last year, when we went back, we had been away for a few years, so it was pretty special to go back,” Houle said. “But it’s the same type of excitement around the team this year in terms of going back and everybody’s just really pumped up and ready to go right now.”

The Cardinals have three players with 30 or more points and have outscored their opponents, 134-29 this season.

Plattsburgh is led by senior captain Teal Gove with 27 goals and 21 assists, good for 48 points. Gove is the nation’s top scorer, averaging 1.71 points per game.

Shannon Stewart joins Gove on one of the nation’s top lines and is second in team scoring with 38 points. Junior forward Jenny Kistner comes into today’s game with 11 goals and 31 points.

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