The Plattsburgh State women’s hockey team heads into a weekend back-to-back series against Buffalo State riding high after defeating the Potsdam Bears twice last weekend.
The games against Potsdam (11-10-2, 3-9-2) saw the Cardinals (19-2-2, 13-0-1) outscore the Bears 9-,0 with PSUC winning 4-0 Saturday and 5-0 Sunday. The Cards outshot Potsdam 91-35 on the weekend.
“We wanted to play the game in their zone, control the play, control the puck, and really just dominate play,” head coach Kevin Houle said. “We should be able to do that, and we were able to do that against Potsdam.”
Junior left winger Courtney Moriarty scored the game winning goal in both games, bringing her into a tie with senior left winger and captain Melissa Sheeran for the NCAA single season record for game-winning goals with 11. Sheeran set the record last season. The record-tying goal came when Moriarty tipped a point shot by freshman defenseman Erin McArdle.
“She’s been very consistent all year long,” Houle said regarding Moriarty. “Sometimes that goes up and down; you might be playing well but aren’t scoring. Her production has equalled her effort.”
Sheeran said that if she had to share the record, she’s happy it’s Moriarty.
“I always knew she had it in her,” Sheeran said. “She’s an amazing hockey player and an even better person, so I’m super happy for the success she’s had this year.”
Moriarty’s efforts also earned her her fourth NEWHL Player of the Week honor this season as well as getting named to d3hockey.com’s Team of the Week for the third time.
Junior goalie Kassi Abbott made 12 saves Saturday for her seventh shutout of the season, while senior goalie Brooke Wolejko stopped 23 Bear shots to earn her fifth shutout of the season.
Houle was impressed with his goalies’ ability to stay sharp while having long lulls between shots.
“It’s always key for a goalie to be able to do that, not all goalies can do that,” Houle said. “I think both Brooke and Kass did a good job of making the saves when they had to make them.”
The freshman line of left wing Madison Walker, center Annie Katonka and right wing Abby Brush continued its strong debut season against Potsdam, combining for three goals and five assists in the two contests.
“I love playing with them,” Brush said. “It’s nice that we’re all freshmen because we’re all in the same boat. We’re all just working hard and grinding it out.”
Brush snagged the NEWHL Rookie of the Week honor for her production.
“I’m so happy about it,” Brush said. “I wasn’t expecting it at all, and I’m just honored to be chosen for that.”
Both games saw quick starts from PSUC, with the Cards opening the scoring 2:40 into Saturday’s game and 18 seconds into the Sunday’s.
“One of our goals was to come out and control the play, score some goals in the first period and not let teams think that they can play with us,” Houle said.
The only big area where PSUC was not dominant was the power play, going 1 for 7.
“We had good puck movement for the most part, and I think we had a few quality looks,” Houle said. “It’s certainly an area of concern. Our power play has not been great really in general this season, so that’s something we’ll be working on this week.”
The Cards’ NEWHL seeding is now a done deal with PSUC clinching the top spot after Saturday’s win. The Cards will be playing the Bears again in the conference semifinals.
Before that will be games against the Buffalo State Bengals (13-8-2, 9-4-1) Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m., and although the NEWHL seeding is all locked up, the games won’t be without meaning.
In the NCAA’s initial DIII Regional Rankings, PSUC was ranked No. 2 behind Norwich, meaning the Cadets would host the NCAA tournament.
To have any hope of getting home ice, the Cards will have to win both games this weekend, but Sheeran stressed that the team isn’t looking too far forward.
“The regular season isn’t over so we need to stay focused and finish on a high note,” Sheeran said. “We can’t really think about the NCAA tournament until the playoffs are over, and hopefully things will fall into place and we’ll be hosting.”
Email Ben Watson at firstname.lastname@example.org