The time has come for the highest ranked team in Division III women’s hockey, the Plattsburgh State Cardinals, to prove once again that they are the best there is.
For the past three years, the name that went hand in hand with ECAC West title has been PSUC, which is fitting since the university has been chosen to host the tournament this year. After taking a bye week that they had rightfully earned, the Card’s wait is over as they are ready to take the ice against Oswego State.
In the Cards most recent encounter with the Lakers, PSUC was able to get the best of their always troubling adversaries. It is also notable that the team was not only able to get the win over Oswego, but they were able to dominate them on the offensive end of both games, outscoring their rivals by 12 points over the course of their two matchups during the regular season.
Although these past successes may give the Cards the slightest boost in confidence heading into their post season debut, it is not entirely settling.
“It’s the playoffs, and anything can really happen,” junior forward Jordan Lipson said.
A little under a year ago, to the date, PSUC found themselves in an oddly identical scenario to the one they find themselves in this weekend. Just like last year, they have two solid regular season wins over Oswego heading into the ECAC West Tournament.
The outcome of last year’s first round is obvious as the Cards went on to beat the Lakers and headed on to win their third-consecutive national championship. Despite these past two years playing out so similarly, both the coaching staff and the players are not taking anything for granted.
“We’re always going to play as if the other team is trying to take something from us,” assistant coach Danielle Blanchard said. “Right now, Oswego is trying to take our season out from under us, and we can’t let that happen.”
With the bye week, the Cards have had an extra week to prepare for the highly anticipated battle that will take place on the ice between them and Oswego. In practice, focus was a common mindset shared by everyone on the team. A heightened attention to detail could be sensed by everyone during the team’s practice.
However, these qualities are not out of place by any means as PSUC has become accustomed to really zoning in during their playoff endeavors. This type of intense focus during the playoffs has become somewhat second nature for the Cards. They know what it’s like to be on the big stage.
“We’ve been there before,” head coach Kevin Houle said. “We’re just ready to go and ready to play.”
Email Kevin Morley at firstname.lastname@example.org