BY RICKY ST. CLAIR
---- — PLATTSBURGH — If hockey games consisted of one 20-minute period, the Plattsburgh State women’s hockey team would’ve been in the catbird seat Sunday for its second monumental victory in as many days.
But the No. 1-ranked Cardinals (16-0-1, 9-0 ECAC West) had to survive a roller coaster second period that saw them surrender a 4-1 first-period lead before garnering the game-winning goal for a 5-4 win over Elmira College.
“We got in a rut there, and we never got out of it in that second period,” Plattsburgh coach Kevin Houle said. “With a 4-1 lead going into the second, I didn’t feel like it was safe. I know Elmira is a very good team with some talented players, and they got some opportunities and made the best of them.
“But we were fortunate to come out and get that power-play goal at the end. That was a big goal for us, and I thought we came out in the third and steadied the ship, so to speak.”
The Cardinals jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first period, burying four goals on their first six shots. Emma Rutherford, Shannon Stewart and Morgan MacInnis all scored in the first 9:55 of play.
Yet, the lead was short-lived.
The No. 3 Soaring Eagles (15-3-1, 10-2) picked up consecutive goals from former Plattsburgh forward Ashton Hogan during a two-minute, 12-second span before teammate Ashley Ryan scored at 14:36 to tie the game at four.
Houle sensed a shift in momentum and thought his players were “rattled.”
“No question they were rattled,” Houle said. “They were rattled at 4-3. They were rattled at 4-2. We kind of went back a little bit to the way we played last weekend in terms of giving them opportunities. You can’t give good teams opportunities, and it’s a credit to them for coming back.”
Following an Elmira penalty for too many players on the ice, the Cardinals were awarded their second power-play opportunity of the contest. Allison Era found Teal Gove on a one-time feed at the bottom of the near-side circle, and Gove blasted her third game-winning goal on the season at the 17:40 mark.
“I think the goalie was expecting that puck to go across the crease,” Houle said. “They’re a passive a team on the kill. They just kind of sink everybody back and take away that low play. That’s kind of what we look to do. (Gove) just one-timed it, and the goalie was moving across the net and opened up her pads for the puck to go five-hole.”
Plattsburgh was forced to try to survive a Soaring Eagles 5-on-3 power play for one minute, 29 seconds with 11:08 remaining in the third period. But the Cardinals allowed just one shot from the perimeter.
Sydney Aveson fended off 18 of 22 shots faced for her 13th win of the season, while Lisa Marshall was tagged with the loss.
Both teams finished 1-for-5 on the power play.
The Soaring Eagles lead the Cardinals by two points in the ECAC West standings, but Plattsburgh has seven conference games remaining on its schedule, while Elmira has four.
“Obviously, we have a pretty good leg up right now,” Houle said. “We have some tough games ahead of us, though. We’ve got to take care of business, but we’re in the driver’s seat to control our own destiny.”
Plattsburgh State 5, Elmira College 4
Elmira 1 3 0 — 4
Plattsburgh 4 1 0 — 5
First period- 1, PSU, Rutherford (Kistner, Era), 1:04. 2, PSU, Stewart (Ziesmann), 5:41. 3, EC, Lamoureux (Nystrom), 7:40 (pp). 4, PSU, Stewart, 9:34. 5, PSU, MacInnis (Gove), 9:55. Penalties: Balisy, PSU (interference), 6:48. Gaskin, EC (cross-checking), 10:40. Kistner, PSU (interference), 11:12.
Second period- 6, EC, Hogan (Curk), 0:44. 7, EC, Hogan (Metcalf), 2:56. 8, EC, Ryan (Johnston, Nystrom), 14:36. 9, PSU, Gove (Era, Gilligan), 17:40 (pp). Penalties: Hudgins, EC (too many players), 15:58.
Third period- Penalties: Piku, EC (cross-checking), 6:03. Favretto, PSU (holding), 8:21. Balisy, PSU (boarding), 8:52. Wilgosh, EC (tripping), 16:43. Johnston, EC (cross-checking), 19:56.
Shots on goal:
Elmira 7 9 6 — 22
Plattsburgh 13 5 9 — 27
Goaltenders (shots-saves): Marshall, EC, 27-22. Aveson, PSU, 22-18.
Power plays (goals-opportunities): Elmira 1-5; Plattsburgh 1-5.