By Liam Sample
It was a testing week for the No. 3 Plattsburgh women’s hockey team (5-0), who kept its early season success going by winning three games in five days.
The stretch of games began with the team’s home opener at Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena Nov. 11, where Plattsburgh beat the Potsdam Bears (2-2) 4-1 in a unique style of play for the team.
The next day, the team traveled to Potsdam for another matchup for the Bears, with Plattsburgh winning 8-2 behind an offensive explosion and hat trick from senior forward Ivy Boric.
Finally, Plattsburgh faced the No. 9 Norwich Cadets (4-1) at home Nov. 15 in a game that could have implications over the national rankings.
Both teams came in undefeated and after a late comeback from Plattsburgh, the team won behind an overtime winner from senior forward Julia Masotta. Masotta played two seasons at Norwich before transferring to Plattsburgh to begin this year.
In the first game of the weekend, the Cardinals, who had scored a goal in the first period of each game prior, were tasked against a gritty Potsdam Bears team. The game was scoreless after the first, with Plattsburgh leading in shots 20-5.
The Cardinals initially struggled to get past junior goaltender Ellie Zurfluh, who made 35 saves in the first two periods. Once Plattsburgh cracked Zurfluh, the floodgates opened.
“She had a lot of size to her, so I think just moving her side to side and trying to open her up,” Boric said. “Once we finally did that, she kind of broke down.”
Boric scored 19:35 into the second period, taking advantage of a rebound for the first home goal of the 2022-2023 regular season.
Graduate student captain and forward Sara Krauseneck followed with a goal 21 seconds later, one timing a pass from junior Mae Olshansky. After not scoring for the first 39:25, Plattsburgh tallied two in the waning seconds of the second period.
Potsdam outshot Plattsburgh 13-12 in the final period of the game. Senior goaltender Lilla Nease only let up one goal, finishing the game with a season-high 23 saves.
“With such a close scoring game, pressure’s pretty high, but [I’m] pretty confident in our team this year,” Nease said. “We’ve always been kind of a third period team with getting it done at the end of the game.”
Nease was not without help from her forwards, with Masotta scoring two goals in the final frame to lead Plattsburgh to another conference win.
Olshansky, who played alongside Masotta and Krauseneck over the weekend, said their line has a “really good ability of making really quick passes”, adding they can generate a lot of time in the offensive zone.
The two teams meet the next day, this time in Potsdam for another conference match. Olshansky said the bus ride after the previous day’s game “wasn’t too bad,” and that the team “had to stop at Tim Hortons.”
From the start, the entire theme of this game shifted, with Plattsburgh’s offense learning from its mistakes and not wasting any time getting on the scoresheet.
Krauseneck opened the scoring just before the eight-minute mark, with the goal coming on the powerplay. Boric then scored two straight in less than three minutes, with the team heading into the first break leading 3-0.
Plattsburgh let up a goal five minutes into the second, but the Cardinals didn’t let up and scored five of the next six goals. Graduate student Holly Schmelzer and first-year Riley Calhoun scored their first goals of the season, while Krauseneck finished with two goals.
Boric went on to complete the hat trick midway through the second period, which is her second of the season. She currently leads the team in goals with seven and said the team came in with a clear message
“I think our mentality was to bury them early,” Boric said. “I honestly don’t really remember many of [my goals.] I kind of just blacked them out and moved forward.”
Nease made 17 saves while allowing two goals as the team moved to 4-0-0 in conference and atop the Northeast Women’s Hockey League Standings.
“We came out kind of on fire,” Nease said. “The first game kind of taught us where we needed to go and how we needed to score.”
By picking up this win, Plattsburgh proved it could learn from its mistakes and in its next game, the team would have to prove it could do this against a nationally ranked opponent. Prior to the game, Nease said playing Norwich is always a “really cool matchup” and described it as “skill vs. skill.”
Plattsburgh started off by tallying 18 shots in the first period, but it was Norwich who scored the first goal of the game 12:44 into the period.
In the second, Olshansky and graduate student Nicole Unsworth scored before the five minute mark of the period to gain the first Cardinal lead of the game. Cadet’s sophomore Taylor Girouard tied it up 9:04 into the second for her first goal of the season.
Goaltending was a huge factor for both sides, as Norwich’s junior goaltender Leocadia Clark finished with 47 saves. Nease stopped 18 while allowing four goals.
The third period started with a stoppage when two players collided, causing a Cadet to be stretchered off the ice and ambulanced from the rink. According to Eric Kerr of NBC Channel 5, the player was junior defender Neris Archambault and no further update has been released on her status.
The game remained in a standstill until the final few minutes, where Krauseneck scored the go-ahead goal with less than three minutes left. Norwich went on to score two goals in the next 53 seconds to take its first lead since the opening period.
A penalty was called around the time of the goal, leaving Plattsburgh down a player with two minutes left as it now had to tie the game. In the clutch, sophomore defender Mattie Norton tied the game up with 24 seconds left in regulation on a long shot that was perfectly placed past Clark.
The wild last three minutes brought this game into overtime, where a little over three minutes in, Masotta found some empty space going into the offensive zone with one defender in front of her. She used a toe drag to get into the shooting lane and went bardown to win the game and complete the late comeback.
In storybook fashion, Masotta managed to score the game winner against her former team, with the team getting a huge win in terms of momentum.
Plattsburgh stays at home as it plays two more conference games at home, taking on the Buffalo State Bengals (2-4-0) today at 3 p.m. and the Morrisville Mustangs (0-5-1) tomorrow at 3 p.m.
The team hosts its biggest tournament of the year, the Busters Cardinal/Panther Classic Nov.26 and 27, which will be another test for Plattsburgh State.