The Plattsburgh State women’s hockey team cruised past Utica College in its ECAC Women’s West Championship semifinal game Sunday.
The Cardinals routed the Pioneers by a final score of 6-1, with four of the goals coming in one big burst in the second period.
The game saw a great night from both of PSUC’s special teams. The Cards scored on three of four powerplays, and killed off two separate 5 on 3 penalty kills, one of the 5 on 3 deficits being roughly a minute and a half in length.
While killing off such a long 5 on 3 is impressive, Coach Kevin Houle would have rather not seen his team get into that situation in the first place.
“I wasn’t really happy about being on the 5 on 3 that early in the game,” Houle said. “The second one was a bit later in the game, when we had it a bit more in hand, so it wasn’t as stressful, but I thought we did a great job on both occasions.”
PSUC’s powerplay, which has struggled at times this year, could not have picked a better time to start converting. Sophomore forward Mackenzie Millen opened the scoring for the Cards early in the second, and a goal from junior forward Melissa Sheeran made it 2-0 before the Pioneers quickly responded to make the game 2-1. Then, the Cards proceeded to pump in three powerplay goals, one coming from Sheeran, and two from senior defenseman, and captain, Erin Brand.
Sheeran was happy to see the powerplay finally convert on some chances.
“We’ve been working on it for a while,” Sheeran said. “We just have to keep the puck moving, and I think pucks just bounced our way in that one.”
Along with her propensity for understatement, Sheeran is also rather good at scoring, and scoring often. Her two goals in the game moved her to 5th all-time in PSUC program history with 73, and her 22nd game-winning goal improved her own program record that she set earlier this season. To hear it from her, though, you would think she has nothing to do with it.
“Anytime I can contribute to helping the team win it’s good,” Sheeran said. “But if someone wasn’t passing me the puck, they wouldn’t be going in the net.”
Brand was also happy with her stellar performance, but more so just saw it as leading by example.
“It’s important that I try to bring the best I can every single game,” Brand said. “Being the captain, I have to set a good example for the rest of the girls. In a big game like that you can’t sit back, you have to be focused, and I’m just glad I could contribute.”
Houle was a bit freer with his praise about the performances he got out of two of his veteran players than they themselves were.
“Sheeran’s one of the top offensive players in the country,” Houle said. “Anytime she scores we’re probably going to be succesful, and Erin coming up with a couple of big goals was great, they were nice goals.”
The big night of scoring also saw a few other Cards have multi-point nights, with junior forward Kayla Meneghin tallying a goal and two assists, while junior defensman Megan Crandell and sophomore defenseman Maci Hoskins and forward Courtney Moriarty all had two helpers. Senior forwards Jordan Lipson and Melissa Ames each had an assist to their name as well, while senior goalie Camille Leonard picked up 24 saves en route to her 71st career win.
Now PSUC turns their attention to the ECAC Women’s West Championship game this Saturday, with the opponent they’ll be facing being a familiar one.
The Cards have played and beaten the No. 4 nationally ranked Elmira Soaring Eagles, a team that is considered their biggest rival, two times this season. Now, they play again with everything on the line. But don’t worry, PSUC doesn’t expect a cakewalk.
“They’re our biggest rival, and it’s always a very competitive game against them,” Houle said. “Now we’re fighting for the league title, so it should be an exciting weekend.”
Email Ben Watson at firstname.lastname@example.org