PLATTSBURGH, NY - The Plattsburgh State women's hockey team earned a berth in its second straight NCAA Finals appearance after edging Amherst College 3-2 on Friday night in the second semifinal game of the Division III Championship. The top-ranked Cardinals (26-0-2) will square off against defending champion Middlebury at 7 p.m. Saturday, a rematch of last season's championship won by the Panthers, also at Stafford Ice Arena. The Jeffs will take on Wisconsin-Stevens Point Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in the national consolation game.
Plattsburgh tied a school record for wins in a single season. Last year, the program went 26-3-1 overall.
The key stretch in the game occurred in the second period when Plattsburgh converted two goals on the same power play after first-year Alyssa Chwick (Rye Brook, NY) was whistled for a 5-minute major penalty. Jessica Moreau scored her 12th goal and Danielle Blanchard notched her team-leading 24th just one minute and 26 seconds apart to give the Cardinals a 3-1 lead going into the final stanza.
But the No. 8-ranked Lord Jeffs (20-6-3) made things interesting late in the third period when sophomore Tarasai Karega (Detroit, MI) scored her 18th goal of the season to cut the deficit to one goal. Two minutes later, goalie Krystyn Elek (Summerville, SC), who finished with 37 saves, was pulled in favor for an extra attacker for the final 1:21. In addition, Amherst was working with a power play opportunity, skating 6-on-4, for the last 42 seconds, but couldn't get the equalizer to force overtime.
Plattsburgh held a commanding 41-28 shots-on-goal advantage, including 28 to 8 in the decisive second period. But the Lord Jeffs held the upper hand in the other two periods, a combined 20-13 shots margin. The Cardinals killed off all seven of Amherst's power play attempts.
Blanchard also assisted on Shay Bywater's first period goal three minutes in that put the hosts up 1-0. Elizabeth Ditmore tied it at the 2:12 mark of the second period, unassisted.
Bree Doyle finished with 26 saves, including several spectacular stops with her glove, in the Plattsburgh net.
Amherst Lord Jeffs Press Conference Quotes:
Head coach Jim Plumer: "I'm proud of the way we played. We played a great game against a great team. I thought we really battled hard until the final buzzer. Killing off a 5-minute penalty against a team like Plattsburgh is so difficult because they pushed to the net. We gave them all they could handle, but we have the utmost respect for Plattsburgh being a great program."
Sophomore defender Tarasai Karega: "Every time we stepped onto the ice we felt a sense of urgency, especially in the third period. Our team gave 100 percent effort. It's been a great ride and very exciting. We've done something that no other Amherst team has done before us."
First-year goalie Krystyn Elek: "It's been a heck of a ride. The camaraderie on this team has been amazing. I felt confident going into the game. I knew that I could rely on my defense to help out."