BY RICKY ST. CLAIR
---- — PLATTSBURGH — In its last three outings, Plattsburgh State women’s hockey coach Kevin Houle said his team wasn’t playing to its full potential.
Saturday night, however, Houle finally got the performance he was looking for.
The No. 1-ranked Cardinals (15-0-1, 8-0 ECAC West) received goals from Allison Era, Andrea Ziesmann, Alyssa Parke and Shannon Stewart en route to a monumental 4-1 win over No. 3 Elmira College at the Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena.
“It’s been three lackluster performances, and we’ve talked about that the last week and a half. As I said to our kids in the locker room — our team is back,” Houle said. “That’s our team right there. That’s the way we’re capable of playing against an excellent hockey team.”
Plattsburgh set the tempo right from the get-go when Era ripped a shot in the slot, beating Soaring Eagles (15-2-1, 10-1) goaltender Lauren Sullivan upstairs at 1:06, for a 1-0 lead.
Then, Ziesmann took a blast from the blue line that appeared to be redirected in front and into the back of the net. Ziesmann’s power-play tally was her second goal of the season.
The Cardinals concluded the first period of play up 1-0 on the scoreboard and 16-6 in shots on goal.
“I thought we did a great job in that first and really carried the play,” Houle said. “Once we got it going and got those first two goals, I thought we had some other chances to go up 3-0. I was very happy with the way we came out and executed in that first.”
Parke became the second Plattsburgh defenseman to cash in when she beat Sullivan blocker side from the right point at 11:15 of the middle stanza.
The Cardinals blueliners combined for five points and were active from the point throughout.
“I just think that’s the type of performance those guys are capable of,” Houle said. “They’re all fast, quick and gritty. That’s the performance we needed out of them (Saturday).”
Stewart put the icing on the cake with 3:10 remaining in regulation when she buried her seventh goal in the last four games from the low slot.
Plattsburgh finished 1-for-2 on the power play, while killing off all four of Elmira’s power play chances.
“They’ve got a pretty dangerous power play when they get it setup,” Houle said. “I thought we did a good job of keeping the puck in the neutral zone and their offense out of our zone. They had some good looks once they were able to setup during a 30 or 40-second span. I thought we did a nice job keeping them out of our end.”
Sydney Aveson fended off 22-of-23 shots faced, earning her twelfth victory of the season and the game’s second star. Sullivan was tagged with the loss and surrendered four markers on 31 shots.
Parke and Era were nominated as the first and third stars of the game, combining for two goals and one assist.
The Cardinals will look for their first weekend sweep over the Soaring Eagles since 2008 today at 3 p.m.
“When you play against a team like Elmira back-to-back, it’s going to be tough to sweep them,” Houle said. “We’re going to have to bring our ‘A’ game. We’ll have to play with the same effort and same intensity. With two good hockey teams anything can happen, and we’re looking forward to it.”
Plattsburgh State 4, Elmira College 1
Elmira 1 0 0 — 1
Plattsburgh 2 1 1 — 4
First period- 1, PSU, Era (Balisy), 1:06. 2, PSU, Ziesmann (Rutherford, Parke), 10:12 (pp). 3, EC, Curk (Hogan), 18:31. Penalties: Gellerman, EC (body checking), 8:43. Kistner, PSU (hooking), 11:25.
Second period- 4, PSU, Parke (Gilligan, Senese), 11:15. MacInnis, PSU (interference), 18:01.
Third period- 5, PSU, Stewart (MacInnis), 16:50. Penalties: Gellerman, EC (body checking), 2:48. Stewart, PSU (slashing), 6:40. Rutherford, PSU (body checking), 13:59.
Shots on goal:
Elmira 6 12 5 — 23
Plattsburgh 16 12 3 — 31
Goaltenders (shots-saves): Sullivan, EC, 31-27. Aveson, PSU, 23-22.
Power plays (goals-opportunities): Elmira 0-4; Plattsburgh 1-2.