PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — Plattsburgh earned a trip to next week’s NCAA D-III Women’s Frozen Four with a convincing 4-1 win over Elmira. The win is the Cardinals’ first postseason victory over Elmira after five losses and marks the first time the Soaring Eagles will not participate in the Frozen Four.
“We were excited to play Elmira to prove we’re No. 1,” said Plattsburgh captain Chantelle Rye. “We wanted to play one more game, to beat Elmira in our own building. It felt really good. They always take us down in the championship, not this time.”
Claire O’Connor scored what proved to be the gamewinner for Plattsburgh (25-2-1) at 5:51 of the second period to break a 1-1 first intermission deadlock.
“The defense carried the puck around the net, I got the puck off her stick, I tried the wrap around, and the goalie went for the puck again,” she said. “I remember hitting the puck, it went right past her. I was jumping, I was just as surprised as anyone.”
The teams traded powerplays for much of the second period. Plattsburgh goalie Breanne Doyle made a key save with her left pad on a Jaclyn O’Neil power play shot to keep the lead for Cardinals.
“She has been unbelievable,” said Plattsburgh coach Kevin Houle. “She doesn’t always see a ton of shots and sometimes that’s the hardest thing for a goalie. That’s what you need your goalie to do, make the big saves at key times. They had three or four shots in tight. She came up big.”
Sarah Samson added to the Cardinal lead when she stuffed a rebound through the five- hole for a power play goal at 13:11 of the second period.
“We had trouble making the first pass,” said Elmira coach Paul Nemetz-Carlson. “They always had people pressuring the puck. The second period we came out a little overconfident. We had played really well after we scored a goal.”
Plattsburgh put the game away with a power play goal by Danielle Blanchard at 11:27 of the third period.
“I noticed how their defense were both rushing out at the points,” Rye said. “I told Blanch to set up right inside the circle. I gave her the puck and she put it in. It was awesome. It really changed the game.”
“They just made a nice play,” Nemetz-Carlson said. “They are real active off the puck. It is their confidence with the puck. They passed it up to the point, passed it over and passed it behind the person who attacked the point and she one-timed it.”
Plattsburgh set the tone for by scoring just a minute into the game. Keltie Jones intercepted a clearing pass and Danielle Blanchard fought for the puck in the right wing corner and made a centering pass across to Gina Kozar for a backdoor one-timer from Elmira goalie Cara McGurry’s stickside.
Elmira (18-9) evened the score at 11:30 of the first when Stacey Calic forced a turnover at Plattsburgh’s blueline and created an odd-man rush for Farren Hart, who broke down right wing and ripped a shot over Plattsburgh goalie Breanne Doyle’s left shoulder from about 15 feet in the right circle.
Houle needed to calm his team between periods, and his players did the rest.
“We were too emotional going into the first period,” he said. “We had to concentrate the second period, making sure we weren’t making mistakes, get the puck deep and control the play, so they wouldn’t get offensive opportunities.”
Plattsburgh now advances to the Frozen Four riding a 19-game D-III winning streak. The team is getting great goaltending and balanced scoring. Its three-leading scorers each playing on different lines.
Coach Nemetz-Carlson offered an observation on Plattsburgh, who has 14 freshmen on its roster.
“Nothing is a scary as a young team who doesn’t know any better, who has a lot of confidence,” he said.