PLATTSBURGH — Plattsburgh State women’s hockey coach Kevin Houle wants to embrace last year’s experience at the NCAA Division III Women’s Ice Hockey Championship and utilize it as a learning tool.
Going in at 26-0-2, the Cardinals were stunned in the semifinal round, suffering a 4-1 setback to Middlebury. Plattsburgh earned third-place honors but didn’t receive the trophy it was hoping for.
“I think we’ve certainly learned from our experience last year,” Houle said. “It’s a different team. You know, it’s a different team altogether. Our goal is to go in, play our best hockey and hopefully come out with a win. That’s all you can ask for is to go out, play hard, be ready to play and execute.”
The top-ranked Cardinals (26-1-1) will get a second opportunity when they host the 2014 NCAA Division III Women’s Ice Hockey Championship today and Saturday.
Plattsburgh will play No. 6 St. Thomas (Minn.) at 3:30 p.m., while No. 2 Norwich will challenge No. 4 Wisconsin-River Falls at 7 p.m.
The Tommies (20-5-3) currently ride a six-game winning streak. St. Thomas reached the tournament by virtue of an automatic bid, defeating Gustavus Adolphus 2-0 in the MIAC championship March 8.
In the quarterfinal round, the Tommies drubbed Wisconsin-Stevens Point 5-0.
“You know what, they’re obviously a very good hockey team,” Houle said. “They beat Gustavus, who’s a perennial final four team and an excellent hockey team, so I’ve got to believe St. Thomas is very good.
“I know they’re fast; I know they’re physical. They’re going to be a good hockey club, that’s for sure. They won the regular-season title in the MIAC and the playoff championship, so they deserve to be here.”
Paige Baldwin (11-10-21), Courtney Umland (8-10-18), Jenny Saxon (7-10-17), Mary Grace Flesher (1-16-17) and Tara Baago (5-10-15) are the team’s top point-getters.