Gustavus Adolphus clamped a withering defense on the Plattsburgh Cardinals in the consolation game of the NCAA Division III Women’s Tournament. By diving to block shots and forechecking hard, the Gusties limited the Cardinals to only four shots on goal through the first two periods. Gustavus chipped in two goals of its own during that span, and that was enough to propel the Gusties to a 3-1 victory.
“I was very proud of our players bouncing back after the heartbreak of [losing in the semifinals] yesterday,” said Gustavus coach Mike Carroll. “There are only two teams that made the playoffs that have a chance to win their last game, and we did it. I am very proud of the girls.”
“Any time you get a chance to play, it is a good time to put the sweater on,” said Plattsburgh coach Kevin Houle. “I am proud of the way our team played. They are a very talented hockey team, and are as fast as any team we have seen this year. It is a tough way to finish up for your kids.”
Territorially, the first period was tilted towards the Gusties as they thoroughly controlled play.
Gustavus took an early 1-0 lead 4:44 into the game by converting on its first power play. Kelly Crandall carried the puck from the left point around a Plattsburgh winger, and then let go a wrist shot from the faceoff dot. Netminder Carolyne Roy made the save, but the puck dropped to her feet and Laura Stypulkowski was there for the Gusties to swat the puck home.
Plattsburgh failed to mount much offense during the opening stanza. The Cardinals only managed two shots on goal, but they were both dandy scoring opportunities.
“We just wanted to get off to a fast start and have some positives to build on,” said Carroll. “We were concerned about odd man rushes. Our team is very offensive minded, so it really took some work to have our team really concentrate on defense. We did a pretty good job to limit them to two shots.”
Those two chances were it offensively for Plattsburgh in the first period. Gustavus had several other opportunities, putting nine shots on goal, but Roy held her ground to keep the score 1-0 as the buzzer sounded to end the period.
“We had some great opportunities that didn’t end up in shots in the first two periods,” said Houle. “I thought we had some more goal scoring opportunities than the four shots [over the first two periods] would indicate.”
Gustavus extended its lead early in the second period to 2-0 off a 2-on-1. Crandall took a pass in the slot from Molly Doyle, waited until Roy committed to going down, and then steered the puck around her left pad for the goal at 2:43.
“Molly [Doyle] made a nice pass, and slid it over to me on the breakaway,” said Crandall. “I was able to deke the goalie and get her down, and had the whole net to slide it through.”
The Plattsburgh offense finally woke up after that and poured on the pressure during the next few minutes. The Cardinals set up in the Gusties zone for extended periods of time, but Gustavus defenders showed their determination, going down to block three shots in a minute span.
“We worked on sacrificing your body for your team,” said Crandall. “It is something that our team has done well all year. Sometimes you have to give up yourself to help your teammates out, and pick each other up out there. Going down to block a shot can save a goal at any given moment.”
Plattsburgh’s best scoring opportunity of the period came during a 5-on-3 advantage that lasted 1:17 late in the period. However, the advantage was cut short by over twenty seconds when the referee called a phantom penalty on the Cardinals.
Molly Doyle was streaking into the Plattsburgh zone alone on a shorthanded breakaway. Before she could get a shot off, Chantalle Rye caught her from behind, dove, and poked the puck cleanly off Doyle’s stick. The referee anticipated that Doyle would be tripped and raised her hand to call the penalty. Rye never touched Doyle, but the penalty went up on the board anyways and the Cardinal opportunity was cut short.
For the second period in a row, the Gustavus defense only allowed Plattsburgh to get a pair of shots on goal, and the Gusties ended the period with a 2-0 advantage.
Plattsburgh finally got the offense rolling in the third period, mainly out of desperation trying to climb back into the contest. The Cardinals managed to more than double their shots on goal with ten during this period alone. Gustavus withstood the onslaught until late in the period.
Plattsburgh, while down two skaters, scored to cut the deficit to 2-1. Elizabeth Gibson tore into the Gustie zone on the forecheck, stole the puck off a Gustavus defender’s stick, and wristed it past Meyer to ruin her shutout at 17:11.
After Gustavus called timeout, Plattsburgh pulled Roy with nineteen seconds remaining, and just five seconds later Andrea Peterson put the puck in the now empty net at 19:46.
Gustavus matched its best ever tournament performance by earning a third-place finish.