---- — BY RICKY ST. CLAIR
The Plattsburgh State women’s hockey team has relied on its high-scoring offense to reach a fourth straight season with an unbeaten record through its first five games.
The second-ranked Cardinals (4-0-1, 3-0 ECACW) top Division III in goals per game at 5.40 and have accumulated 23 markers in their last three contests.
“Putting the puck in net as frequently as we have been is a confidence-builder no matter who it’s against,” Plattsburgh coach Kevin Houle said. “We’re not worried about offensive output, but it’s certainly nothing to get too excited about.”
After an 11-day layoff, the Cardinals play host to Bowdoin this afternoon at Stafford Ice Arena for a 2 p.m. nonconference matchup.
“Our team was playing well before the break and we would’ve liked to play last weekend, but had a somewhat competitive alumni game,” Houle said. “We’re coming off a good week of practice, and I didn’t see any signs of rust. (An extended break) has never been an issue.”
In the 2011 meeting between the two teams, Plattsburgh defeated the Polar Bears 7-0, with Chelsea VanGlahn netting four goals.
“(Bowdoin) is a very competitive team in a good (NESCAC) conference,” Houle said. “They’ll be the fastest team we’ve played since Norwich (Oct. 28). They’re defensive-minded and have an aggressive forecheck. Bowdoin is capable of beating anybody.
“I thought (Sydney Aveson) played extremely well in that game last season. The score wasn’t indicative of how we won. It was a 1-0 game after two periods, and we just got on a roll in the third.”
Today’s game will be Bowdoin’s first of the season.
The Cardinals are led offensively by senior captain Teal Gove. The Berwick, Ontario native has collected six goals while adding four assists. Teammate Jenny Kistner has totaled four goals and five assists, good for nine points.
The Cardinals have surrendered just four goals on the season with a core of defensemen made up of predominantly underclassman. Five of the six every-day blueliners are either freshmen or sophomores.
“We’re very young back there, but they’re learning and getting better every game,” Houle said. (Allison Era) is a force, and we expect her to put up power-play numbers. I’m more concerned about how they move the puck and play in their own end.”
The Cardinals will travel to Middlebury, Vt., next week for a two-day slate of games at the Cardinal-Panther Classic. The squad plays Amherst Nov. 23, while facing off against rival and host institution Middlebury Nov. 24.
“The next couple of weekly will truly be a test,” Houle said. “We know how good Bowdoin is, and we can’t overlook them. We haven’t talked at all about Amherst. It’s a pretty good stretch coming up here; however, we’ll continue to take one game at a time.”