PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — There was a lot of talk all week about how poor some of the NCAA Division III quarterfinal matchups appeared. Curry and Plattsburgh didn’t heed all that talk.
In a thrilling contest, Plattsburgh defeated Curry, 5-4, at 18:09 of overtime when Paul Kelly completed a hat trick. Plattsburgh, seemingly going for broke, crashed the net. Chad Kemp’s shot was stopped with a great save by Lenny Mosca, but Kelly put home the rebound.
It was arguably, the best quarterfinal contest of the night. Factually, it was the one with the most lead changes and the only one that went to overtime.
Right from the opening faceoff, the game set a furious pace of end to end hockey. All night long, the question was when would the players tire out. They didn’t, and the pace remained at full speed.
The game did suffer a slowdown early in the first period when Curry’s defenseman Jonathan Whitham appeared to be severely injured. He went into the boards head first after receiving a check and laid motionless on the ice. The medical staff took their time attending to him as they gingerly placed the non-moving player on a backboard.
The worse fears were alleviated, when Whitham miraculously rejoined the game in the third period, appearing none the worse.
Despite the pace of the game, the first period went by without a score. Plattsburgh finally broke the ice at 5:51 of the second period on a Joe Carpinone goal.
Curry came back to tie it up at 14:02. The play started with a Plattsburgh rush while shorthanded. However, the Cardinal skater was hauled down with no call. Curry turned the play around with a 2-on-1. Off the rebound, Brian Doherty put it in to tie the game.
Plattsburgh retook the lead late in the second period on Kelly’s first goal of the night, on a power play, at 18:17.
The third period got even wilder as the lead changed hands twice thanks to back to back goals by both teams.
First Curry did the honors. Brian Doherty scored his second of the night tying it at 4:00. Sean Pero gave Curry the lead, stunning the home fans when he put in a rebound at 6:42.
However, back came the Cardinals. Kelly got his second of the night as well as his second power play goal at 12:33 when he received a pass from Jayson Barnhart while on his knees.
Chad Kemp gave Plattsburgh a 4-3 lead. The goal was due to Justin Rafferty’s strong effort, turning a defenseman around then throwing it towards the net. Kemp went straight for the goal, and tipped the puck into the net under the crossbar.
With under three minutes to go, it appeared Plattsburgh had finally shook Curry off their back.
The Colonels didn’t think so. With their goalie pulled for the extra attacker, Chester Ferreira beat Craig Neilson with just 18.5 seconds left in the game to send it to overtime.
As if the first three periods didn’t have enough excitement, the teams produced even more in overtime.
Pillsbury had a clean breakaway starting from the red line, put it on his backhand, but Neilson made the save. While skating 4×4, Mosca made a great glove save on Bryant Wilson then Kelly shot the rebound off the post. Later, Mosca again came up big. Then, Kelly once again hit the post after collecting his own rebound.
Finally, Kelly ended the game before a second overtime was needed.
Mosca ended the night with 37 saves as Curry ends its season at 24-4-1 while putting all the critics of the ECAC Northeast to bed.
Plattsburgh has now won three consecutive playoff games in overtime — both games of the SUNYAC finals and Saturday’s contest. Two of those three games were won by Paul Kelly goals.
The Cardinals, currently at 23-4-3, head to the national semifinals where they will face St. Norbert on Friday. It is the 13th time Plattsburgh has made it this far. The exact time and location will be announced on Monday.