BY RICKY ST. CLAIR
---- — PLATTSBURGH — At this rate, Plattsburgh State women’s hockey coach Kevin Houle should consider changing his team’s nickname to the “Cardiac Cardinals.”
Allison Era’s highlight-reel goal with 7:20 gone in the third period helped the No. 1-ranked Cardinals (19-0-1) to an emotional 3-1 win over fifth-ranked Middlebury College at the Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena Wednesday.
“What we’re concerned about is playing good hockey and I’ll tell you what — that hasn’t always been the case this year. (Wednesday), we played our best hockey,” Houle said. “Fortunately, we’ve been able to find ways to win in tight games, especially against quality opponents.”
Panthers (12-3-2) goaltender Laura Pinsent was able to keep Houle’s squad scoreless for the first 31:22 of the game before Chelsea VanGlahn jammed in a loose puck, giving Plattsburgh a 1-0 lead at 11:23 of the middle period.
“After (Breanne Bennett) redirected the point shot, the puck basically came right to me,” VanGlahn said. “I was in the right place at the right time to hammer it home. The adrenaline rush afterward sort of lifted our team and got us rolling.”
Morgan MacInnis nearly made it 2-0 at the end of the second period when she skated in for a breakaway opportunity. But her wrist shot appeared to hit the post and bounce back into play.
“The puck looked like it went off the inside of the pipe and came out,” Houle said. “I had no problem with the call; it very well may have (gone in), but it happened so fast.”
Plattsburgh maintained a one-goal lead until Middlebury’s Madison Styrbicki notched the game at 1-all with a power-play goal at 1:55 of the third stanza.
“Even when the score was 1-1, we kept plugging away,” Houle said. “When you’re playing against a goalie that’s having a good night, you can’t get frustrated. That goal could’ve turned the tide for them, but our kids remained composed.”
Era, who began the year as a forward, toe-dragged around two Middlebury defenders and beat Pinsent top shelf, for the game-winning goal with 12:40 to go in the third.
“The toe-drag is what my teammates always say that I go for, so it was kind of cool that (the defensemen) were perfectly lined up for me to do that and finish,” Era said. “Middlebury is honestly one our biggest rivals and they’re a very aggressive team. It’s nice to keep this thing rolling and build momentum.”
Emma Rutherford tallied an insurance marker with 54 seconds remaining in regulation. The marker was unassisted, and the sophomore’s eighth of the year.
Sydney Aveson improved her record to 15-0-1 between the pipes, fending off 10-of-11 shots faced. Pinsent was honored with the game’s second star, making 31 saves on 33 shots.
The Panthers finished the night 1-for-5 on the power play, while Plattsburgh was 1-for-4.
Plattsburgh returns to ECAC West play this weekend, hosting the Utica Pioneers for a two-game slate. The series opens Saturday for 7 p.m. before the final home game of the regular season Sunday at 3 p.m.
Plattsburgh State 3,
Middlebury College 1
Middlebury 0 0 1 — 1
Plattsburgh 0 1 2 — 3
First period- Penalties: Bielawski, MID (body checking), 3:28. Kistner, PSU (interference), 3:59. Parke, PSU (interference), 6:55.
Second period- 1, PSU, VanGlahn (Parke, Bennett), 11:23. Penalties: Fluke, MID (body checking), 1:18. Lanni, MID (body checking), 4:18. Gilligan, PSU (cross-checking), 14:31.
Third period- 2, MID, Styrbicki (Bielawski), 1:55 (pp). 3, PSU, Era, 7:20 (pp). 4, PSU, Rutherford, 19:06 (eng). Penalties: Balisy, PSU (interference), 0:57. Moreau, MID (interference), 1:55. Moreau, MID (tripping), 9:50.
Shots on goal:
Middlebury 3 4 4 — 11
Plattsburgh 10 12 12 — 34
Goaltenders (shots-saves): Pinsent, MID, 33-31. Aveson, PSU, 11-10.
Power plays (goals-opportunities): Middlebury 1-5; Plattsburgh 1-4.