By Collin Bolebruch
The Plattsburgh Cardinals women’s hockey team (2-0-0) opened its regular season last weekend, beating the in-conference Morrisville Mustangs (0-3-1) on the road twice by scores of 6-1 Nov. 4 and 7-1 Nov. 5. The wins mark 83 and 84 consecutive conference games without a loss for the Cardinals, dating back to November 2016.
The introductory regular season games were prefaced by two exhibition games against the Saint Michael’s Purple Knights. Plattsburgh won 2-1 Oct. 28 at Saint Michael’s and 6-0 Oct. 29 in Plattsburgh.
“We were all really excited to get on the ice initially for even the exhibition games,” forward Sara Krauseneck said. “Everyone is really excited for that and to get the official game under our belt and get the initial nerves of starting in conference play and our real season.”
Forward Mae Olshansky led Plattsburgh in goals with four over both games, followed by forward Ivy Boric with three. Boric recorded her second career hat trick, netting all three of her scores Nov. 5. Defender Aizah Thompson and forward Julia Masotta added two goals each and defender Sierra Benjamin scored one of their own.
“I think that’s obviously a key point every year is trying to get everyone touching the puck, you want as many people that can score as possible,” Olshansky said. “That’s always a good thing. It means you’re probably winning games.”
Krauseneck had the most assists of any Cardinal with five. Forward Nicole Unsworth, Olshansky, Benjamin, and Masotta all had multiple assists. Lilla Nease was in the goal for both contests and saved 28 shots, including 17 Nov. 4.
“It’s not just scoring goals. It’s playing valuable minutes, getting that ice time and experience and contributing to the program and to the team in different ways,” Head Coach Kevin Houle said. “We’re looking forward to how [new players] develop.”
Krauseneck and Unsworth, graduate students, both earned their 100th career point over the weekend. Houle recorded his 450th career win, best for sixth all-time among college women’s ice hockey coaches.
Morrisville forwards Rhys Brown and Allicen Bouchard scored one goal each. Goaltenders Emma Plett and Maggie Jones combined for 100 saves and 13 goals allowed over both contests.
The Cardinals outshot the Mustangs 113-30, but the teams tied in faceoff wins with 55 apiece. Plattsburgh scored four goals on power plays to Morrisville’s one. Ten minor penalties were assigned including four Cardinal and six Mustang violations.
Plattsburgh is now undefeated through nine all-time meetings with Morriville, dating back to 2018. The Mustangs joined the Northeast Women’s Hockey League conference in 2019.
“I don’t think we should take anyone for granted in our league,” Olshansky said. “I think every team in our conference, and honestly every team in the nation, is going to give us their best game, just because we are Cardinal hockey, everyone knows that we’re going to give them our best game.”
The first Plattsburgh goal of the weekend came four minutes into the Nov. 4 game, when Olshansky was assisted by Krauseneck and Benjamin for a power-play goal. Morrisville responded with an equalizer three minutes later.
The Cardinals added three goals before the end of the period. Nease saved two shots and Morrisville sent two shots wide of the goal, failing to score before the first horn. The score at the end of the first period was 4-1.
Plattsburgh controlled the ice for the remainder of the game, and Morrisville failed to score again. Nineteen Mustang shots missed the net. The Cardinals added one goal in each of the following periods for a 6-1 final score.
“It’s a new team and it’s just the beginning of the season. We’re certainly happy with the start, you know, contributions from a lot of different players, I think that’s what you’re going to see,” Houle said. “I think we may have a little more depth and a little more speed than last year.”
The Cards didn’t take its foot off the pedal for Nov. 5’s game. Plattsburgh put three goals on the board before Morrisville could respond. Two of these goals were scored by Boric, on her way to her hat trick. The Cardinals out-shot the Mustangs 23-6 in this time.
The Mustangs scored its first and only goal of the day with three minutes left in the first period. Plattsburgh smothered Morrisville with four goals over the two remaining periods, including Boric’s third of the day. Nease saved eight Mustang shots on the way to a 7-1 Cardinals’ victory.
“We have good control in the offensive zone,” Krauseneck said. “We’ve just got to tidy up things in the [defensive] zone and transitioning into offensive zone. Once we’re there, we’ve had good control and good composure.”
Plattsburgh plays Morrisville again this season, hosting the Mustangs Nov. 19. The Cardinals next matchup comes against the Potsdam Bears (2-0-0) next weekend Nov. 11 at home and Nov. 12 in Potsdam. The teams have faced off 34 times since 2008, and Plattsburgh has won every game.
“We’re still searching for that identity and that leadership,” Houle said. “Looking to see what we’re made out of, each game is a step in that direction, each practice is a step in that direction.”