BY RICKY ST. CLAIR
---- — PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh State women’s hockey team made a huge statement at home Sunday.
The No. 1-ranked Cardinals (11-0-1, 5-0 ECAC West), who are coming off a monumental 4-2 non-conference victory over No. 6 Norwich University, play host to Oswego State for a pair of weekend games.
While the team boasts the nation’s longest unbeaten streak, coach Kevin Houle is looking for a complete 60-minute effort. Plattsburgh has been forced to bounce back after allowing the first goal of the game on four occasions.
“Any time we hit the ice, we look for 60 minutes of consistent hockey and to come out strong,” Houle said. “Norwich isn’t a team that you’re going to dominate for 60 minutes per say, but you’d like to be more consistent. Our goal this weekend is to carry the play.
“We should certainly have some confidence coming in. (Sunday) is in the past…we have to put it away. We have to prepare for the next game at hand and that’s Oswego. The next game is always your biggest game. It’s a big weekend for us.”
The Lakers (7-6-1, 6-2) sit second in the ECAC West conference and are two game’s out of first place. Their latest result — a 2-1 loss to St. Norbert at the Campus Center Ice Arena.
The team’s leading scorers are a trio of junior forwards in Melissa Seamont (5-11-16), Olivia Boersen (5-7-12) and Megan Hagg (4-6-10). Sophomore goaltender Bridget Smith has accumulated 71.4 percent of her team’s playing time between the pipes. The Hamburg, N.Y., native sports a .932 save percentage to along with a 1.58 goals against average.
Oswego has nine upperclassman — five forwards and four defenseman, who have played in 13 or more games this season.
“We faced them in the (ECAC West) semifinals and they played us tough in a 2-1 game,” Houle said. “They’re going to come at us. They have a lot of upperclassman on the team and they’ll try and take the game to us. They’ve been successful in league play. They split with a tough St. Norbert team. This is a big weekend for them, too.”
The Cardinals are led in scoring by Jenny Kistner (8-11-19), senior captain Teal Gove (10-8-18) and Shannon Stewart (6-9-15). Gove is currently in a three-way tie for sixth in Division III women’s college hockey with 10 markers in 12 games played.
Plattsburgh net minder Sydney Aveson ranks ninth in the nation in goals against average (1.43) and 24th in save percentage (.924).
Ali Vakos, who recently transferred from the University of Connecticut, netted Sunday’s game-winning goal at 13:31 of the third period. Houle has been pleased with the junior forward’s play thus far.
“Considering the fact she hasn’t played competitive hockey in a year, you can see the talent level,” Houle said. “It’s early, though. She’s going to have to play her way into game-situation shape and she felt that last week. We’re real pleased with how she started out.”
Today’s contest is scheduled for 3 p.m.