BY RICKY ST. CLAIR
---- — PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh State women’s hockey team has shown in recent weeks that it can compete with — and beat — the top teams in Division III.
The top-ranked Cardinals (16-0-1, 9-0 ECAC West) look to keep their momentum rolling as they hit the road for a two-game series at Cortland this weekend.
Plattsburgh will match up with the Red Dragons (4-11-1, 4-6) today at 3 p.m. before wrapping up tomorrow with a 3 p.m. contest.
“Cortland is battling for playoff position, and they’re going to be fighting for points,” Cardinals coach Kevin Houle said. “They won’t roll over for us, or anyone else for that matter. We can’t sit back and have to be ready to play.”
Chelsey Wright (5-6-11), Maggie Giamo (5-3-8) and Abbie Adams (1-6-7) lead Cortland in scoring, while freshman netminder Deanna Meunier sports a .928 save percentage to go along with a 2.32 goals against average.
“I haven’t had the opportunity of seeing (Meunier) play because she’s a freshman, but talking to other coaches, she a good goalie,” Houle said. “I know she’s played well for them this year and is capable of making a lot of saves.”
Following a weekend sweep of No. 3 Elmira, the Cardinals remain atop Division III in scoring offense at 4.82 goals per game. A youthful core of defensemen has also lived up to Houle’s expectations, surrendering just 1.12 goals against per contest.
The squad also ranks first in the country in power-play percentage (29.8) and sixth in penalty-kill success rate at 89.8.
“Our power play could be better, and we could be more opportunistic,” Houle said. “I’ve been pleased with our penalty kill, though. A goaltender has to be your best penalty killer, and we’ve had that all year long. In big games, our special-teams play has been positive.”
Senior captain Teal Gove leads the country in total points with 30. Fellow linemate Shannon Stewart (15-11-26) is in a tie for second, while junior Jenny Kistner has contributed eight goals and 13 assists, good for 21 points.
Netminder Sydney Aveson was recently named Goalie of the Week by ECAC West for the week ending Jan. 20.
Aveson improved to 13-0-1 on the year with consecutive wins over Elmira. The junior allowed one goal on 23 shots in Saturday’s 4-1 defeat and recorded 18 saves as the Cardinals skated to a 5-4 victory the following day to remain unbeaten.
“When she’s in the net, she feels comfortable,” Houle said. “We expect her to play well. She had a great weekend, and we’ll see what our goaltending brings this weekend.”
After the Cortland series, Plattsburgh has six regular-season games remaining on its schedule, including three at home.