AMHERST, MA –The Amherst College women's hockey team will face the Plattsburgh State Cardinals (25-0-2) in its first-ever NCAA Frozen Four appearance this Friday at 7 p.m. after defeating host Rochester Institute of Technology, 2-1, in the first round of the tournament. The Jeffs fell to the Cardinals, 5-1, in their only meeting of the year on Dec. 8, but have only lost one game since then en route to a 20-5-3 record.
The undefeated Cardinals feature one of the nation's top scorers, Danielle Blanchard, whose point total of 23-24-47 places her tied for sixth in points per game (1.74 ppg) and third in goals per game (0.85 gpg). Amherst's sophomore Tarasai Karega (Detroit, MI) has also climbed her way up the national statistical leader boards, entering the weekend in the top 20 for game-winning goals (1st; 8), power-play goals (T-5th; 8), points per game (18th; 1.26) and goals per game (20th; 0.63).
The game will also feature some of the country's most talented rookies, as six of the nation's top 20 leaders in rookie points per game are on Plattsburgh and Amherst. Plattsburgh's Laurie Bowler leads the category with 1.41 points per game (22-16-38), while Kate Dennett (Highlands Ranch, CO) sits tied for sixth with 1.00 points per game (12-16-28) to lead the Jeffs' first-years.
The Cardinals' Breanne Doyle and Amherst's Krystyn Elek (Summerville, SC) have been two of the most dominant goaltenders all season. Doyle has posted an impressive 1.35 goals-against average, the fifth best in the country, with Elek close behind in sixth (1.57 GAA). Elek's .940 save percentage is the third best in the nation, while Doyle has stopped 93.2 percent of shots faced, good enough for eighth on the list.
Plattsburgh boasts the nation's best scoring offense (5.22 gpg) and best scoring defense (1.55 gpg), while Amherst's 3.57 goals per game is the 13th best offense and 1.82 goals allowed per game is the eighth best. The two longest unbeaten streaks in Division III will be on the line, with the Cardinals' 27-game streak (25-0-2) and Amherst's nine-game streak (8-0-1) topping the list. Coming off of a 3-2 victory over conference rival Elmira College and a first-round tournament bye, Plattsburgh will be well rested and ready for the surging Jeffs.
In other first-round action, NESCAC rival Middlebury College defeated Manhattanville 2-1, while the NCHA champion Wisconsin-Stevens Point defeated MIAC champion Gustavus Adolphus, 4-1. Middlebury will take on Wisconsin-Stevens Point Friday at 3:30 p.m., with the victor taking on the winner of the Amherst/Plattsburgh game Saturday at 7 p.m.
The Championship Consolation game will be played Saturday at 3:30 p.m. All Frozen Four contest will be played at Ronald Stafford Arena in Plattsburgh, NY.