PLATTSBURGH — It doesn’t get any easier for the No. 1 Plattsburgh State women’s hockey team.
Three days removed from a two-game split at No. 3 Elmira College, the Cardinals (18-1-1, 11-1-0) play host to No. 2 Middlebury College at the Stafford Ice Arena at 7 p.m. tonight.
The contest marks Plattsburgh’s ninth and final nonconference game on its 2013-14 schedule.
“Middlebury, they play a little bit different style than most teams,” Cardinals coach Kevin Houle said. “We’ll make a couple little adjustments. But it’s business as usual. We just want to go out and play our game and play with a lot of energy.”
Since their 2-0 loss to Plattsburgh at the Panther/Cardinal Classic Dec. 1, the Panthers (16-1-3, 11-0-3) are on a 14-game unbeaten streak — the longest such streak in Division III men’s or women’s hockey. Middlebury has won 11 games during that span.
The Panthers own some of the country’s most explosive forwards in juniors Emily Fluke and Katie Sullivan. Fluke has registered 13 goals for 26 points, while Sullivan has totaled 12 goals on 21 points.
With Fluke and Sullivan as two of its key contributors on offense, Middlebury ranks seventh in the nation in scoring offense at 3.60 goals per game.
“Anytime you play a quality team like Middlebury, you want to keep them away from the net and limit their second and third-chance opportunities,” Houle said. “They’re a great team, a great-skating team. So we want to keep them away from the front of the net. We want to own possession of the puck in their zone.”
Annabelle Jones, the Panthers’ junior goaltender, ranks seventh in the country in goals-against average (1.39), 11th in save percentage (.937) and is in a seven-way tie for fifth with four shutouts.
“She’s definitely a solid goalie,” Houle said. “We expect to see her best. We’ve got to get traffic in front of her, get tip-in goals and rebound goals. We’ve got to take advantage of opportunities whether it’s in front of the net, on the power play or on odd-man rush opportunities. Ugly goals, so to speak, win games.”