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College Hockey:
Plattsburgh Strengthens Hold On Top Ranking

Blanchard's Three Points Lead Cardinals

— Despite a 36-24 shot disadvantage, No. 1 Plattsburgh (22-2-1) handed No. 3 Manhattanville (21-3-1) its first home ice defeat since Nov. 2003 by a 3-1 on Sunday.

Plattsburgh ran its unbeaten streak to 16 games against D-III opponents (including 11 against Top 10 teams) and solidified its hold on the No. 1 ranking going into the postseason.

“It’s definitely a big winto come down here and play an excellent hockey team and get three points is a pretty good indicator of where we are right now,” said Plattsburgh coach Kevin Houle.

Between Sunday’s win and Saturday’s 1-1 tie, Plattsburgh goalie Breanne Doyle held the Valiants high-powered offense (6.5 goals per game) to two goals for the weekend series. She increased her season save percentage to .939 and lowered her goals against average to 1.33 in the process.

“Our defense and forwards did an awesome job clearing the puck and blocking shots,” Doyle said.

“She has been sensational,” Houle said of Doyle. “She made some big saves when we needed her toBre stood out, she was excellent.”

Plattsburgh struck first on a power play goal by Jenn Clarke five minutes into the second period. Danielle Blanchard won a faceoff in the Manhattanville zone to Clarke, who fought off a defender, worked into the low slot and lifted a backhand high over goalie Karine Turmel’s glove.

Manhattanville’s Jessica Zimmerman tied the game with 2:05 to go in the second period when she slid the puck through a scrum past Doyle. But Blanchard regained the lead for the Cardinals just 64 second later with a tip from just outside the crease of a pass from Chantelle Rye, who grabbed a turnover, broke deep down the boards, and drew the defense’s attention.

“I saw [Blanchard] coming in,” Rye said. “I knew she would go straight to the net and when you get Blanch the puck, you know she’ll put it in the net. I just tried to make sure she got a hold of it.”

Blanchard scored added a second goal unassisted in the game’s final minutes. In gaining the 3-1 lead, she stole an errant pass and launched a rocket from the circle about 20 feet to the goalie’s right. Turmel seemed fooled when Blanchard double-clutched on the shot.

“The puck was sitting up on its edge, so I waited for it to slide down, set my feet and let the shot go,” Blanchard said.

Next weekend both Plattsburgh and Manhattanville will be hosting their conference tournaments. Plattsburgh will play Neumann (12-9-2) in an ECAC West semifinal, while the Valiants host U-Mass-Boston (15-8-1) in an ECAC East semifinal.

“They came really ready to play, they were the better team and beat us in all areas of the ice,” Manhattanville coach Nicole Kirnan said of Plattsburgh.

Today’s victory gives the inside track to host the NCAA Tournament to Plattsburgh.

“We proved that we deserve to be No.1 once again this week and we will stay there,” said Cardinal senior Jenn Clarke.

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