The No. 1 Plattsburgh State women’s hockey team will look to maintain its upper hand on the ECAC West when it hosts Neumann University today and Sunday.
It will be the final weekend of play before the Cardinals (6-0, 3-0, ECAC West) travel to Middlebury College for the annual Panther/Cardinal Classic.
There, Plattsburgh will meet Amherst Nov. 30 and second-ranked Middlebury Dec. 1.
“As a team, we’re not even thinking about (Amherst or Middlebury),” Cardinals coach Kevin Houle said. “We’re concentrating on Neumann. We’re focused on the task at hand.
“Neumann has been a top-four team in our conference, a team that you have to be ready for. They have players that can hurt you.”
The Knights (1-4, 0-2 ECAC West) are off to a shaky start.
Neumann has dropped four of its first five games. Its lone victory came against Saint Anselm College, a 5-4 win Nov. 10.
The Knights have had a difficult time putting the puck in net, recording just seven goals. The team is 1-for-24 on power-play opportunities.
Neumann has been outshot in every contest, but has been involved in three one-goal games.
“They’ve been in every game they’ve played,” Houle said. “They beat a good Saint Anselm team, who is an excellent team. They went into overtime with Oswego. Their record might not prove it right now, but they can play with anybody in the country.
“They’re looking to take points from us. If we’re not ready, it’s going to be a long weekend. They have some very good players up front and on the blue line. We need our best effort.”
Meghan Power, a freshman forward, leads the Knights in scoring with two goals. Edie Brenning, Shanelle Doucette, Amanda Simpson, Angela Gilmour and Lauren Cusack have each recorded a goal.
Sophomore Justina Mayr and freshman Julia Fair have split time between the pipes.
Mayr is 0-3 with a 1.89 goals-against average and .944 save percentage. Fair has made two appearances, sporting a 5.17 goals-against average and .863 save percentage.
Plattsburgh, meanwhile, has outscored its opponents by a 31-0 margin. With back-to-back shutouts over Buffalo State last weekend, the team improved its scoreless streak to 420 minutes and 17 seconds.
The Cardinals have outshot their opponents 280-63.
“We’re playing with consistency and have maintained that all season long,” Houle said.
Offensively, Plattsburgh is led by Shannon Stewart and Jenny Kistner. The two forwards have combined for 14 goals and three assists in the early going.
Sophomore Bridget Balisy and freshman Mel Ames have each recorded three goals.
Sydney Aveson, a senior goaltender from West Covina, Calif., is three shutouts away from tying Carolyne Roy’s program record of 24-career shutouts.
Aveson, who has 21 shutouts in just 63-career starts, did not play last weekend.
“There’s no question she is going to start,” Houle said. “There’s no secret there. The shutout record and the shutout streak isn’t something we talk about. It’s a by-product of how we’re playing. It’s not anything that’s in the forefront.”
The puck is set to drop at 7 p.m. today and 2 p.m. Sunday.
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