MIDDLEBURY, Vt. — Many teams would not have a freshman on the ice three minutes into a matchup with the No. 2 team in the country, let alone killing a penalty, but No. 1 Middlebury is no ordinary team. And so freshman Annmarie Cellino blocked a shot and lugged the puck and two defenders the length of the ice, beating Plattsburgh netminder Breanne Doyle to the stick side for her first collegiate goal and a 1-0 Panther lead.
Not to be outdone, her fellow freshman Molly Vitt scored her first collegiate goal shorthanded at 12:51 of the second period following a turnover behind the net and a nice feed from Tania Kenny to cap a 4-2 win for Middlebury (2-0) over Plattsburgh (7-1).
“We have awesome freshmen,” said Middlebury junior Abby Kurtz-Phelan. “They have been taken in to our team well. They are contributing, which is great.”
None of the game’s six goals came 5-on-5, and four came shorthanded.
“You shoot pucks [on the powerplay] into people they’re going to end up in your own net,” said Plattsburgh Coach Kevin Houle.”We were not making good decisions at the points and not making good decisions in our own end.”
Plattsburgh’s Jenn Clarke matched Cellino’s initial shorthanded goal with one of her own by forcing a turnover at the Middlebury blueline and muscling her way in on Kate Kogut, whom she patiently beat with a backhand. Kogut had kept her team ahead early on, as Plattsburgh came out flying.
“We had the opportunities early and then Middlebury played better as the game went on,” Houle said. “We came out flying in the first and end up down a goal.”
There were 17 penalties for a total of 45 minutes, including a major game misconduct called on Middlebury’s Emily Quizon for hitting from behind, which has clearly been a point of emphasis this season. Quizon had just scored her own shorthanded goal, blocking a shot at the point, racing in, deking the goalie and scoring by sliding the puck on the ice to Doyle’s stickside for a 2-1 lead 6:44 into the second period.
One minute into the major Danielle Blanchard tied the score at 2-2 following a scrum in front of Kogut for the game’s only power play goal despite all the penalties.
“We were fueled from that [misconduct],” Kurtz-Phelan said. “You can’t get mad about that sort of thingwe came together, we used it as fuel to make us work harder.”
She certainly did, as her goal, on a feed from Shannon Sylvester, following a Plattsburgh turnover high in the slot in front of Doyle, was the game winner at 11:09 of the second period. The goal came 4-on-4 as Plattsburgh took a penalty during Quizon’s major.
It bodes well for the two-time defending NCAA champs that they swept through the nation’s No. 2 and No. 3 teams this weekend, despite the later to start to their season.
“You only have so many weekends without league games,” said Middlebury coach Bill Mandigo. “You want to play the best games you can play, see what happens, see what you are made of. I think we have the potential to be pretty good.”
So it goes, Kogut in net, all those veterans, contributing freshmen, Kenyon Arena, Middlebury tradition, and the NESCAC season has not even started. Is it too early to think three-peat?