March 22, 2014

Cards one win away from national title

PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh State women’s hockey team had been snakebitten in its previous two NCAA Division III Women’s Ice Hockey Championship semifinal appearances.

Its third try was the charm.

Allison Era’s game-winning goal at 15:11 of sudden-death overtime propelled the top-ranked Cardinals (27-1-1) past No. 6 St. Thomas and into today’s national championship game against No. 2 Norwich.

“We’re obviously happy to be playing in the finals,” Plattsburgh coach Kevin Houle said. “This is a group that was focused from day one on a goal of getting to the national championship and bringing it home. This was certainly a step in the right direction, for sure. Credit our team for pulling it out.”

The Cardinals entered the game with the nation’s most potent scoring offense, averaging 4.96 goals per game.

That didn’t seem to faze St. Thomas senior goaltender Alise Riedel.

Riedel kept Plattsburgh scoreless for 75 minutes and 11 seconds before Era’s wrist shot from the right point hit the top-left corner of the net. Riedel’s 63 saves set an NCAA tournament single-game record.

Riedel snapped the previous record of 45 saves, which was set by Williams netminder Monelle Quevillon against Manhattanville on March 15, 2003.

“That was definitely a surprise that one went in, for sure,” Era said. “Like Coach said before, having all the screens in front, I don’t even think she saw it.

“If it wasn’t for that traffic, she probably would’ve stopped it again. She was on her head the entire game. It really took a lot of effort to break her down.”

After going 0-for-4 on the power play with nine shots in regulation, the Cardinals were awarded three power-play opportunities in overtime.

“Well, I’m going to have to bite my tongue on that one,” St. Thomas coach Tom Palkowski said. “Yeah, I don’t think a team should ever get three in the same overtime like that. But we follow the game and we play, and we had chances to end it earlier.”

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