By Liam Sample
The No.2 Plattsburgh State women’s ice hockey team closed out the Potsdam Bears 8-3 after an explosive five goal first period Feb. 11 at the Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena. With this win, they clinch the top spot in the North East Women’s Hockey League standings, which they have done all four year since the conference was created.
This game was a bounce back for the Cards after a hiccup on the road where they tied Cortland 3-3 Friday, Feb. 4. They have now won two straight and moved to 18–2-1 overall with a 13-0-1 conference record.
The Cardinals proved they were worthy of the No. 2 rank in the country with five different players scoring in this offensive statement. This is their second straight home game scoring eight or more goals.
Sophomore Mae Olshansky netted two goals to start the game and both came from quick shots near the crease. The first was off a one-timer where Senior Nicole Unsworth sent a cross-ice pass to Olshansky. Her second was four minutes later, where she ripped home a loose puck after an Unsworth shot went off the goalie’s pad. This brought Olshasnky’s goal total up to eleven on the season, the most by any player on the team appearing in their first season.
Graduate student Kaitlin Drew-Mead scored at the 11:17 mark of the first period on a perfectly placed shot short side for her tenth of the season.
Fellow graduate student and reigning NEWHL Player of The Week Annie Katonka followed with one of her own moments later; on the power play, she redirected a pass from Junior Ivy Boric right in front of the net for her twentieth of the season. Boric also tallied her nineteenth assist of the year, tying her for the second most in the conference.
Unsworth scored her twelfth this year. At the 17:03 mark to end the first period barrage. After taking the puck into the offensive zone, she drew the goalie to her left and found the back of the net.
Coming out of the first break leading 5-0 felt like enough for the Cards, but the Bears battled back with senior Stephanie Dunlap and junior Emily Dellaneve getting their team into it.
The second was also a bounce back for Bears’ sophomore Goalie Ellie Zurfluh, who stopped 12in the period and thirty-one overall, while allowing eight. She moves to 6-7-1 and is in her first collegiate season. Plattsburgh went with junior Chloe Beaubien, who is starting in her second straight. She is now 7-0-0 in eight appearances and allowed three while saving twenty in this one.
The Cardinals got back on track in the third, tallying another just over three and a half minutes in the period. Katonka sent a pass from the far corner over to Boric in front, who one-timed it five hole.
Back on the powerplay five minutes later, Katonka took a shot from the slot for her second power play goal of the game and twenty-eighth career. This puts her just one short of tying the schools powerplay goal record of 29.
“It was a really good first period then we just kinda thought we could coast through the game and Potsdam took advantage of it.” Katonka said.
The Cardinals put the icing on the cake when Unsworth managed a breakaway, made a nifty move to the outside and put a low shot past Zurfluh with 1:20 remaining in the game. She finished the game with five points. This season she has scored four goals against Potsdam in tow games.
“We got off to a great start which was good for us tonight” summarized Senior Goaltender Ashley Davis, “.. but going into the rest of the season we need to focus on consistency and keeping the pressure on for 60 [minutes].”
Plattsburgh finished the game leading thirty nine to twenty three in shots. Special teams was a huge factor for both sides, with Potsdam going two for three on the powerplay and The Cards finishing two for four.
Historically, The Cardinals have never lost a game to The Bears, being a perfect 32-0 against them.
While Plattsburgh holds the top spot in the NEWHL, Potsdam is barely hanging on the last playoff spot and with this loss, moves to 8-12-1 and 6-8-1 in conference. With little time left before the playoffs, this next week has become increasingly important for both sides.