Two-time ECAC West Goalie of the Year Sydney Aveson begins the weekend with a 22-0-2 record and leads all Division III goalies with a 1.16 goals against average. She is third nationally with eight shutouts and has a .937 save percentage.
Plattsburgh draws the Panthers (19-7-2), marking the third time the two teams have met this season.
The Cardinals defeated Middlebury, 3-2, early in the season at the Panther-Cardinal Classic in Middlebury, Vt., behind a 29-save performance from Aveson. Then, Plattsburgh picked up its second win over the Panthers in January, a 3-1 decision at the Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena.
Houle said the familiarity between the two storied programs could be a positive for either team.
“You know each other’s tendencies, you know each other on the power play, and forecheck and D-zone,” Houle said. “I certainly think it’s an advantage, but to who? It’s still a level playing field in terms of the matchup.”
The Panthers are coming off a dramatic 3-2 overtime victory ovr No. 3 Norwich University in the NCAA quarterfinals. Middlebury trailed twice in last weekend’s game before Katie Sullivan tied the game late in the third to force overtime. Sullivan scored all three Panthers goals in the win, including the game-winning goal at 14:28 of overtime.
“I looked at the game going in, and I thought they had a real good chance at beating them,” Houle said. “They’re both real, real good teams. That’s the thing. There’s about six or seven maybe eight teams in the country that are all capable of knocking one another off. When you have teams the caliber of Norwich and Middlebury playing, I think that’s almost a pick ‘em.”
Middlebury is led by sophomore forward Hannah Bielawski with nine goals and 21 assists for 30 points. Sophomore Emily Fluke is second with 28 points, while Katie Sullivan and Lauren Greer have contributed 25 and 20 points, respectively.