PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. — There was no more fitting end to the college careers of Middlebury captain Emily Quizon and goalie Kate Kogut than a third straight NCAA D-III women’s hockey title. Each played a decisive role in the 3-1 win before 1,385 fans at No. 1 Plattsburgh. Quizon unofficially figured on the first two goals and delivered a crucial penalty shot in the final minute of the second period, while Kogut stopped 24 of 25 shots.
“I am looking for a way to keep her,” Middlebury coach Bill Mandigo said of Kogut. “She’s our backbone, she’s a big time goalie, and she is one of the most competitive people I have ever coached in any sport in my coaching career. She is amazing.”
The usual suspects for Middlebury (27-2), junior Shannon Sylvester and freshman Annmarie Cellino, put the Panthers up 2-0 before the first intermission. The difference in the game was that Plattsburgh (26-3-1) could not keep Middlebury off the scoreboard in the final minute of either of the first two periods. The Panthers showed their offensive versatility by scoring a power play goal, a shorthanded goal, and a penalty shot.
The Cardinals had the early edge in play, as they applied steadied pressure and worked the puck in deep to the net. Kogut was forced to make several saves in the early minutes, as Plattsburgh outshot the Panthers 11-8 in the opening frame.
“I was seeing the puck very well,” Kogut said. “It was bouncing off my pads and feeling really good. The puck was bouncing my way. I felt in control. It was a perfect game to end on.”
“It gave our team so much confidence to see Kogut make unreal saves, standing on her head, like always,” Quizon said.
Middlebury got on the board first with Sylvester’s power play goal at 5:22 of the first period. Quizon fed the puck from the left point across ice to Shannon Tarrant, who got it down the right wing to Annmarie Cellino. Cellino’s shot through traffic was saved by Plattsburgh goalie Breanne Doyle, but Shannon Sylvester pounced on the rebound at the top of the crease and beat Doyle with a backhand to her stickside.
The backbreaking moment for Plattsburgh came when a power play opportunity to tie the game in the final minute of the first period turned into a Cellino shorthanded goal and a 2-0 Middlebury lead. Quizon forced a turnover on the left wing boards as Plattsburgh was breaking, and she took the puck to the corner. Cellino dug the puck out, and her sharp-angle backhand beat Doyle five-hole with 13 seconds remaining in the period. It was Cellino’s seventh shorthanded goal of the season.
Middlebury struck for a 3-0 lead, again in a period’s final minute — this time the second. After a scrum in the crease, the Panthers were awarded a penalty shot for a Plattsburgh delay-of-game penalty. Quizon was called to take the shot, and she did not disappoint as she faked a move to her backhand and slid the puck five-hole for a 3-0 Middlebury lead.
Plattsburgh applied strong pressure in the third period and never quit. The attack resulted in Middlebury taking six penalties as the Cardinals tried to get the puck to the net.
Plattsburgh’s effort paid off at 9:21 of the third period on the power play when Elise Campbell forced her way out of the right wing corner and stuffed the puck under Kogut from the right side of the crease to narrow the lead to 3-1. But that would be as close as the Cardinals would come in their spirited bid to break Middlebury’s string of titles.
“They played hard right to the end,” Mandigo said. “Women’s hockey at the D-III level is getting better all the time. The four teams that got invited all deserved to be here and any one could have won it. It is a credit to women’s hockey, the growth at the national level and how the schools are spending money and resources to ensure women have equal opportunity to play and have the opportunity to get here.”