Plattsburgh awaits clash with longtime rival Elmira

KAYLA BREEN/STAFF PHOTO

Plattsburgh State’s Hannah Kiraly (21) dumps a puck into the offensive zone past Canton's Lily Cullen during a Northeast Women’s Hockey League game, Jan. 17, at Stafford Ice Arena.

PLATTSBURGH — A new chapter of the Plattsburgh State-Elmira rivalry will be written today.

The No. 1 Cardinals (21-1) host the No. 4 Soaring Eagles (16-2-2) at 7 p.m. for a non-conference women’s hockey game at Stafford Ice Arena.

Both teams have been on hot stretches of late.

Elmira owns a nine-game winning streak and has not lost in its last 13 games, while Plattsburgh showcases a 13-game streak without a defeat.

“I am biased, but this has been one of the biggest, strongest rivalries in Division III women’s hockey,” Cardinals coach Kevin Houle said. “Our history goes back 20 years to the start of both programs. In the ECAC, it was always Plattsburgh or Elmira, and we have both won national championships.

“We are in different leagues now, and it has not lost its luster. We don’t play as often anymore, so the intensity cranks up even more when we are going up against each other.”

The Soaring Eagles have allowed one goal in their last six games and are outscoring opponents, 54-4, during their latest winning streak.

Emma Crocker leads Elmira in points (32) and assists (19), while Eliza Beaudin and Jess Adams are tied for a team-high 14 goals to pace the Soaring Eagles.

It has been a timeshare in net between Elmira goaltenders Elizabeth Hanson and Stephanie Martin, and both sport a save percentage higher than 95 percent.

“They are a very good team,” Houle said. “They have a long record of being very successful. They will be as good as anybody we played this year, and it will be a big test for us.

“A game like this does not make or break us, but it will show us where we are at with playoffs right around the corner.”

With road games against Morrisville to close out the regular season next weekend, it’s Senior Night for Plattsburgh.

Hannah Kiraly, Jen Manning and Sarah Wolf make up the Cardinals’ senior trio this year.

“They have been contributors for four years at different levels and have all played a part in our program,” Houle said. “They have been part of two nationals titles and three league championships, and they have all had their role at Plattsburgh and embraced that.”

Plattsburgh heads into the home stretch of its season with the offense clicking on all cylinders and other parts of its game coming into form.

The Cardinals have outscored opponents, 105-21, and want to continue to solidify their defense, especially with a high-caliber opponent in town.

“Anytime you play a team like Elmira, special teams will be a focus. If you can be on the positive side of that, it’s huge.

“We will get opportunities, and they will get opportunities. It’s a big game. It has NCAA implications, and it's a huge game that both teams take a lot of pride in.”

Email Joey LaFranca:

jlafranca@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: @JoeyLaFranca

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