The semifinal round of the playoffs ended in a familiar way for the Plattsburgh State women’s hockey team; the Cardinals beat a conference rival in a convincing win last Saturday.
This time, it was in the new Northeast Women’s Hockey League (NEWHL), but No. 1/2 PSUC (22-2-2, 16-0-1) routed a familiar foe from it’s ECAC West days, beating the Potsdam Bears (12-12-2, 4-11-2) by a score of 6-1.
The Cards once again set the pace early, scoring 9:30 into the game and outshooting the Bears 18-4 in the first period alone.
“We got to come out here and put pressure on teams early, and hopefully we score,” said Kevin Houle, PSUC head coach. “We want to make sure we’re not sitting back on our heels to start the game.”
The game’s first goal started from a play by senior left wing Melissa Sheeran. The captain blocked the puck as a Potsdam defender tried to move it through the neutral zone, carried it up the left side of the Bears’ zone and around the back of the Potsdam net before passing it out front to a waiting freshman right winger, Abby Brush, who deposited it past the Bears’ goalie Alexa Pfeiffer.
Sheeran would go on to tally a goal of her own along with a fellow senior, right wing Kayla Meneghin, scoring one of her own.
Sheeran’s goal and three assists and Meneghin’s goal and assist in the game brought them both to 183 points in their careers, good for second all time in PSUC women’s hockey history.
“They’ve been great, productive players from day one, and you don’t always see that with freshmen,” Houle said regarding the pair. “They’ve been a big part of our team’s success over the last three years. You might see that kind of offensive output once every 10 years or so out of one player let alone two.”
The pair of seniors were happy but humble when they heard about their new shared milestone.
“Anytime I can have accolades like that I feel fortunate as a player,” Sheeran said. “I wouldn’t have half of those points without Kayla.”
Meneghin built on Sheeran’s response, saying, “To be in that position, especially with you [Sheeran], it’s pretty cool.”
Junior left wing Courtney Moriarty continued her torrid pace this season, notching a goal of her own to bring her total to 28 on the season.
Goals also came from junior center Mackenzie Millen and sophomore right wing Meghan Kraus, with Kraus’ coming in a strange way.
With just over 10 minutes to play in the second period, Potsdam’s Anna-Rose Bertin appeared to make it a 3-1 game, but the referee waved off the goal, ruling that it had gone from post to post and out.
In the ensuing confusion, all five Cardinal players skated unopposed up the ice with the loose puck as the Potsdam players celebrated in PSUC’s end. During the rush, Kraus backhanded a shot up and over the Potsdam goalie to make it a 4-0 game in favor of the Cardinals.
“I was on the bench, but I was just so confused by what was happening,” Brush said with a chuckle. “I was just laughing with Annie [Katonka], and Kraus’ goal was sick so we were pretty happy.”
Junior goalie Kassi Abbott stopped 17 of 18 Potsdam shots to earn her her 13th win of the season.
Up next, the Cards will face off against the Oswego State Lakers in the NEWHL Championship game tomorrow at 3 p.m. in the Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena.
The Lakers are a rare team in that can say they have given PSUC problems in recent memory.
Oswego handed the Cards their only loss last season, and tied PSUC in a game Feb. 3.
“It’s definitely a little more hyped up because we want to come back from that 2-2 tie,” Sheeran said. “The past couple years they’ve given us fits, but when it matters most I think we’ll come out and play.”
Email Ben Watson at firstname.lastname@example.org