PLATTSBURGH — Simply put, Wisconsin-Eau Claire was the better team Friday night.
The No. 3-ranked Blugolds (7-0-1) took an early lead and never looked back in skating to a 6-1 victory over Plattsburgh State (3-4-1) in the opening round of the 22nd-Annual PrimeLink Great Northern Shootout.
Eau Claire will oppose Middlebury, a 2-1 overtime winner over Norwich, in Saturday's 7 p.m. championship encounter. The Cardinals and Cadets oppose one another in the third-place contest at 4 p.m.
“They are a really good team,” Plattsburgh State coach Steve Moffat said. “We saw what it takes to be the No. 3 team in the country.
“We knew what we were in for. We're still learning about our team and we have a lot to learn. But, that's why we play teams like this — to get better.”
Scott Munro gave the Blugolds the lead just 3:25 into the game. Jake Bresser made it 2-0 with only 1:10 left in the first.
“Right after the drop of the puck, they buried two of our guys on the first shift of the game,” Moffat said. “They are bigger and older than we are, and their game plan was to come out and intimidate us.
“It took us a while to get our feet under us.”
Zach Kennedy's goal gave Eau Claire a 3-0 lead in the second, and Jon Richards tallied twice and Andrew McGlynn once in the third as the Blugolds pulled away to a 6-0 advantage.
The Cardinals broke Zach Dyment's shutout bid when Ryan Hogg tallied a power-play goal with 8:52 remaining.
Dyment finished with 29 saves on 30 Plattsburgh State shots.
“We did have a few two-on-ones in the first period,” Moffat said. “They had one and capitalized on it.”
Zach Shapiro's goal 1:45 into overtime gave the Panthers (4-1) their surprising win over the No. 1-ranked and previously-unbeaten Cadets (7-1).
Norwich held a 19-2 shot advantage in the first period, but couldn't solve Middlebury netminder Brian Ketchabaw, who stopped all 19 shots that came his way.
Matt Danner then gave the Panthers the lead with 11:36 gone in the second period before Felix Brassard's power-play goal with 43 seconds remaining in the stanza tied it for Norwich.
Neither team was able to dent the scoreboard in the third period, setting the stage for Shapiro's game-winner.
Wisconsin-Eau Claire 6, Plattsburgh State 1
Score by period
Wisonsin-Eau Claire 2 1 3 — 6
Plattsburgh State 0 0 1 — 1
First period- 1, EC, Munro (Bresser, Parsells), 3:25, PP. 2, EC, Bresser (McGlynn), 18:50.
Second period- 3, EC, Kennedy (Techel, Munro), 11:53.
Third period- 4, EC, Richards (McGlynn), 1:42. 5, EC, Richards (Bresser, Vroman), 6:04, PP. 6, EC, McGlynn (Munro), 8:42. 7, PSU, Hogg (Kuhn, Lawson), 11:08, PP.
Shots on goal
Wisconsin-Eau Claire 18 14 12 — 44
Plattsburgh State 8 13 9 — 30
Goaltenders (shot-saves)- Dyment, EC, 30-29. Poreda (33-29), Fenton (11-9), PSU, 44-38.
Middlebury 2, Norwich 1, OT
Score by periods
Norwich 0 1 0 0 — 1
Middlebury 0 1 0 1 — 2
Second period- 1, Midd, Danner (Capello, Allen), 11:36. 2, Nor, Brassard (Borduas, Downs), 19:17, PP.
Overtime- 3, Nor, Shapiro (Heinritz, Bentley), 1:45.
Shots on goal
Norwich 19 6 11 1 — 37
Middlebury 2 10 7 1 — 21
Goaltenders (shots-saves)- Aubrun, Nor, 21-19. Ketchabaw, Midd, 37-36.