By Liam Sample
The No.2 Plattsburgh State women’s ice hockey team remains red hot, winning back to back conference games this week without allowing a single goal.
The first win came Tuesday, Feb. 15 in SUNY Canton, beating the Kangaroos 6-0. They followed that with a 9-0 win vs The Buffalo State Bengals on Friday evening at the Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena Feb. 18.
Plattsburgh moves up to 21-2-1 record and have already clinched the top playoff spot in The North Eastern Women’s Hockey League. They extended their unbeaten streak to 16 and have won five straight. Additionally, they have not lost a conference game all season, being 16-0-1.
In Canton, Plattsburgh came out to a quick start, with graduate student and two-time reigning Northeast Women’s Hockey League Player Of The Week Annie Katonka finding the back of the net, after a dish from Senior Sara Krauseneck a little over five minutes into the game.
Only 15 seconds later, on a two-on-one with linemate Sophomore Mae Olshansky, Senior Nicole Unsworth deked out the opposing goaltender for her first of the game.
With under a minute remaining in the period, Olshansky scored one of her own on the powerplay, after a beautiful pass from Unsworth. This was the sophomore’s 13th of the season. She finished the night with three points, which is her highest single game point count of her collegiate career.
The Cardinals did not allow a single shot in the first period and kept their foot on the gas coming out of the break, with Katonka tipping in a Krauseneck pass into the net, only 35 seconds into the second frame.
Unsworth scored her second goal of the game after burying home a loose puck in front at the 7:43 mark of the period. This was the senior’s 15th goal of the season, tying her for second most on the team.
Katonka completed the hat trick one second prior to the halfway point of the game on a wrist shot to bring the Plattsburgh lead to 6-0. The Kangaroos hung on defensively,and kept the lead at six heading into the second intermission. The graduate student had her second straight three goal game, and she kept that momentum going into the second game of the week.
In the third period, Canton attempted to respond, leading in the shot category 10 to 9. However, Junior goalkeeper Chloe Beaubien stood her ground. She finished the game with thirteen stops and her first shutout of the season. The Cardinals led 55 to 13 in shots at the final horn.
Kangaroos’ netminder junior Sirena Alvarez made a career high 49 stops in this game and is 12-7-1 overall this season. In both of her appearances versus Plattsburgh this season, she made more than 40 stops, making 43 back on Dec. 4.
This is Canton’s ninth loss of the season, bringing their overall to 12-9-1 overall and 6-9-1 in conference. They have officially been eliminated from playoff contention. These two opponents have been playing each other since 2019, with the Cardinals being a perfect 6-0.
Plattsburgh did not come out as aggressively against Buffalo State, not scoring until 15:17 into the game. Senior defender Sierra Benjamin attempted a pass from the far side that was tipped by Krauseneck. The loose puck found its way to junior forward Ivy Boric, who shot the puck top shelf on the short side for the icebreaker. This was her 13th of the season and the only score of the first.
“First period was rough but we pulled it together and got the win,” Katonka said. The Cardinals responded to the “rough period” by scoring eight in the remaining two frames.
Senior Forward Taylor Whitney netted her first of the contest six and a half minutes into the second period after shooting a perfectly placed shot in the upper half of the goal.
About five minutes later and on the powerplay, Katonka took a wrist shot into the slot to make the score three to zero. This score tied her with Laurie Bowler’s record for the most career power play goals for Plattsburgh State, with 29.
The graduate student struck again with just under two minutes remaining. With the puck loose in the crease, Katonka, while falling, took the shot through traffic for her 29th of the season. This is the most goals this season in all of Division III and a career high. She now has tallied two or more goals in the last five games.
The primary assist on the goal came from Krauseneck for her 31st of the season, which ties the school’s single season assist record. “I thought we came out a little slow, but we picked it up after the first period. We didn’t give them many chances but we also weren’t getting great quality opportunities,” Krauseneck said. “Going forward we have to come out stronger.”
She would score one of her own only 25 seconds into the third. Boric sent a centering pass over to Katonka. “While the opposing netminder made the first stop, Krauseneck was able to score on the rebound for her 15th goal of the season. She is also tied for the team lead in points with 46.
The Bengals goaltender, first year Jessica Auge, made 63 stops. This is her second most saves all season, with her highest total being against Plattsburgh Nov. 12, with 65.
For the Cardinals, Beaubien put up her second straight shutout, saving seven shots in the win. She is now a perfect 9-0-0 this season with a 1.43 goals allowed average.
Plattsburgh continued to add on to their lead with back to back power play goals exactly 2 minutes apart. When graduate student Kaitlin Drew-Mead sent a pass from one red circle to the other, first year defender Mattie Norton ripped a wrist shot into the net, knocking the goalie’s water bottle off.
After a Buffalo State five minute major at the 6:05 mark, the Cardinals capitalized with a goal. Just over a minute later, Benjamin sent the puck across, which bounced off of Whitney and into the goal to extend the lead to seven. Benjamin finished the game with three assists.
Plattsburgh scored again off the deflection after a shot from Junior Defender Kendall Wasik bounced off of first year forward Riley Calhoun — for her fourth of the year — at the 11:15 mark of the period.
The Cardinals tallied one more on the powerplay after Whitney charged to the net to put a rebound in for the hat trick. This brought the senior’s goal total up to six this season, and was the team’s fifth power play goal of the game — a new season high.
“Coming into the last weekend of the regular season, it’s important for us to keep the pressure on teams and not slow up so we can channel that energy into the playoffs,senior goaltender Ashley Davis said. “We’ve played some good hockey lately and it’s important to push that play into the postseason.”
Plattsburgh has one more regular season game, then they play their first playoff game Mar. 1 against the SUNY Potsdam Bears at Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena. Potsdam is 8-14-1 this season and have lost three separate times to Plattsburgh, including scores of 8-3 and 7-2 Feb. 11 and 12.