BY RICKY ST. CLAIR
---- — PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh State women’s hockey team gave 2012 NCAA Division III runner-up Norwich University all it wanted Oct. 28 before a two-all tie at the East/West Showcase in Northfield, Vt.
The No. 1-ranked Cardinals (10-0-1) will get another crack at the No. 5 Cadets (6-1-3) this afternoon at the Stafford Ice Arena for 4 p.m. in a highly-anticipated non-conference bout.
Kevin Houle recognizes the 30-day layoff between games could potentially create sluggish play, but knows the opposing team will be in the same boat.
“We’re in good shape, but there will be rust on both sides of the puck,” Houle said. “Sometimes you have that, but we had a week to skate and prepare, so we’ll be ready to go.”
Norwich last played Dec. 8 against Bowdoin, a 1-1 tie. The team ranks third in the country with 4.40 goals per game, while surrendering just 14 markers in its first 10 contests.
The Cadets are led in goals (10) and points scored (6) by junior forward Tori Charron. Sophomore Loren Carrier has seen nearly 78 percent of her team’s total playing time between the pipes, while managing a .911 save percentage and 1.38 goals-against average.
In its last five meetings, Plattsburgh owns a 1-2-2 record versus Norwich.
“It has become a very good rivalry and they’re certainly one of the most talented teams in the country,” Houle said. “These games sometimes come down to a bounce of the puck, or who wants it more. They hold the edge in recent meetings and we’re looking forward to turning it around.”
Through 11 games, Jenny Kistner (8-10-18), Teal Gove (9-7-16), and Shannon Stewart (5-8-13) lead the Cardinals in scoring. Goaltender Sydney Aveson boasts a 1.35 goals-against average, good for sixth best in the country among net minders that have registered at least 33 percent of their team’s total minutes, and a .929 save percentage.
“We’ll have to get good goaltending, for sure,” Houle said. “I doubt you’ll see seven or eight goals, but you never know. That 8-7 (February 2012) game was unique and exciting. We have a young core on defense with four freshman and two sophomores. They’ve had a good first semester and now have a lot of games under their belt. We’ll need solid play from everybody up front.”
Plattsburgh closed the first semester on an 11-game unbeaten streak, tops in Division III women’s college hockey, and is looking for a strong start to the spring 2013 semester.
“We’re off to a good start in non-conference play,” Houle said. “If we lose, it’s not going to be the end of the world…if we win, it’s great, but doesn’t guarantee anything. It would be nice to get off to a good start and we’ve been thrown into the fire, playing against one of the best teams in the country.”