PLATTSBURGH — Plattsburgh State secured its customary place in the ECAC Women’s West Hockey Championship contest Saturday with a nifty 6-1 triumph over Utica College at Stafford Ice Arena.
The Cardinals (24-1-1) will meet their arch-rivals — the Elmira College Soaring Eagles — in a rematch of last year’s final with face-off set for 3 p.m. today at Stafford Ice Arena. Elmira advanced with a 3-0 victory over SUNY Oswego in the second semifinal.
Plattsburgh has yet to miss out on an ECAC championship game, with its guarantee of a berth in the NCAA Div. III tournament to the winner. The Cardinals today will be making their 13th appearance in the ECAC West final, dating back to their first season of varsity hockey — in 2001-02.
Now for the bad news.
The Cardinals are only 3-9 in the ECAC finals, and just 2-7 against the Soaring Eagles. Plattsburgh beat Elmira 4-2 in the 2013 title meeting at Stafford; however, Elmira had the last laugh, winning the NCAA championship by beating Middlebury 1-0.
Plattsburgh Saturday came out determined to display its championship credentials. The Cardinals took the play to Utica College from the start with a strong forecheck, crisp play and overall solid defensive effort. The result was a 3-0 lead after one period.
“The defense did a nice job moving the puck out of our end and the forwards a nice job working the puck down low,” Plattsburgh coach Kevin Houle said.
“That was the key to the game, taking it to them early,” said senior winger Jordan Caldwell, who was one of six Cardinals to light the lamp.
“We have a very complete team from top to bottom.”
Alyssa Parke, Bridget Balisy and Shannon Stewart scored in the first 20 minutes, and, after a scoreless second, Morgan MacInnis, Tyne Gove and Caldwell connected. Allison Era picked up two assists.
“We get production from a lot of people. We have three lines that can play and contribute,” Houle stressed.