After a 34-day layoff, the top-ranked Plattsburgh State women’s hockey team returns to action at 3 p.m. today.
The Cardinals (9-0-1, 5-0-0 ECAC West) play host to No. 3 Norwich University at the Stafford Ice Arena.
Plattsburgh has not played since Dec. 1, a 2-0 defeat of No. 2 Middlebury College at the annual Panther/Cardinal Classic.
“We’re definitely ready to go and anxious to play,” Cardinals coach Kevin Houle said. “The break hasn’t seemed that long, so that’s a good thing. The girls came back excited, and we had a good week of practice.”
Plattsburgh concluded its first semester as a unanimous No. 1 in both the USCHO.com and D3hockey.com polls. The Cardinals have outscored their opponents by a 46-1 margin, including a 28-0 mark when playing at home.
Plattsburgh ranks third nationally in goals per game (4.60) and first in scoring defense (0.10). The team ranks fifth on the power play at 25 percent (9-for-36) and first on the penalty kill at 100 percent (37-for-37).
Shannon Stewart and Jenny Kistner rank 11th and 17th in the country in goal scoring, respectively. Goaltender Sydney Aveson is first in goals-against average (0.12), save percentage (.992) and shutouts (seven).
“To be honest, (the first semester) went better than I would’ve imagined,” Houle said. “To go undefeated in our league was excellent. I’m more pleased with the way we played through our first semester.
“This year’s team has played more consistent hockey. I don’t think we’ve had too many down moments where we didn’t play our game. Hopefully, we can keep that same effort through the second half here.”
The Cadets (9-1-0, 6-0-0 ECAC East) currently ride a nine-game winning streak. Its lone setback — a 6-0 blanking by the Cardinals at the East/West Hockey Classic Nov. 2.
Since the loss, Norwich has outscored its opponents 37-6.
“They’re a great hockey team,” Houle said. “There’s no question about it. The first game is no indication of how good they are. We know they’re going to come in here hungry and they owe us one and that’s fine. They and we know they’re better than that 6-0 game.”
Senior forward Tori Charron (12-6-18), senior defenseman Marie-Philip Guay (4-4-8) and junior forward Madyson Moore (5-2-7) are the team’s top point-getters.
Freshmen Taylor Fairchild has started six games between the pipes, while junior Loren Carrier has made four starts.
Fairchild is 6-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage. Carrier is 3-1-0, sporting a 1.51 goals-against average and .898 save percentage.
After this afternoon’s game, Plattsburgh will host Manhattanville College in a non-conference game Jan. 11 before traveling to Williams College Jan. 14. From there, the Cardinals will host Cortland Jan. 17 and 18 before playing Utica College Jan. 24 and 25.
Plattsburgh will play seven games during a 21-day period.
“I’m not concerned,” Houle said. “We started off fairly slow. We have one game here and there, then it gets busy. We started the season in a similar fashion. If we’re not playing, we’re practicing and the girls would rather play. We’ll be up for it.”
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