On Saturday, the Plattsburgh women’s hockey team started it’s 2021 season by taking on SUNY Cortland Red Dragons, in a conference match at Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena.
Before the cancellation of the 2020-2021 season, Cardinals were the most dominant team in all of Division III women’s hockey, winning five out of the last six national championships, dating back to 2014.
In the 2019-2020 season, they carried a 26-1-0 record, scoring 131 goals in those 27 games, and went on to win the North East Women’s Hockey League championship. However, they never got a shot at the national level due to the pandemic.
Going into this season, the expectations are higher than ever, especially with seven-time Division III coach of the year, Kevin Houle continuing at the helm. The team has many players returning, including graduate student and captain Annie Katonka, who is the active leader in goals, assists and points for the Cardinals’ program.
Against Cortland, the Cardinals came out with their familiar high power offense. In the first period alone, they scored three goals in a three minute stretch.
The first two came from Katonka, with assists coming from graduate student defender Erin McArdle and freshman defender Mattie Norton on the initial goal. The second saw assists from junior forward Ivy Boric and another from McArdle. Both of these came on the powerplay.
Over a minute after the second goal, senior forward Nicole Unsworth took a top-shelf wrist shot that found the back of the net. She received the set-up pass from freshman Lily Stumm, who tallied an assist.
Stumm and Norton tallied their first collegiate points in this game, with both picking up assists on separate goals.
Most of the second period did not see much offensive action. Then, in the last five minutes, the Cardinals offense broke through. Senior forward Sara Krauseneck scored to make it 4-0, with assists coming from Boric and senior defender Sierra Benjamin.
In the final seconds of the second period, Benjamin shot a puck on net from the point. With the rebound loose, Katonka buried it into the back of the net to secure a hat trick at 19:52. Benjamin finished the game with two points.
SUNY Cortland would get one goal in the third period when sophomore defender Kait Bourgeois scored on a wrist shot that senior goaltender Ashley Davis began to save, but could not make the full stop on. This made the score 5-1, which would be the final.
Davis stopped 23 and only allowed the one goal. She recorded her first win of the season.
With five goals and 49 shots in this contest, the Cardinals picked up where they left off in past seasons, maintaining the familiar standard of skill and offense. On top of this, the defense played to a high level, only allowing 24 Cortland shots.
By picking up this win, Plattsburgh extends its home win streak to 41 games, which started all the way back in January 2019. They look to continue the streak Nov. 10, where they face No.7 Norwich University in a non-conference game at 7 p.m.
The Cardinals, who are now 1-0-0 overall and in the conference, are ranked No.1 overall. This game is a test for both sides, who will see seeded opponents for the first time this season.