Plattsburgh clinches NEWHL regular-season title with win at Potsdam

Plattsburgh clinches NEWHL regular-season title with win at Potsdam

POTSDAM, N.Y. — No. 1 Plattsburgh State women's ice hockey clinched the Northeast Women's Hockey League (NEWHL) regular-season title and the top seed in the NEWHL Tournament with a 6-1 win over SUNY Potsdam on Wednesday night at Maxcy Ice Arena.

With the victory, Plattsburgh State (19-1-0, 14-0-0 NEWHL) won its 11th consecutive game and remained undefeated in NEWHL Play. For the third season in a row, Plattsburgh State has claimed the NEWHL regular-season title and earned the No. 1 seed in the NEWHL Tournament. The Cardinals will host an opponent yet to be determined in the NEWHL Tournament semifinals on Saturday, Feb. 29.

Plattsburgh State held a 20-8 advantage in shots on goal and outscored Potsdam (8-9-1, 6-6-1 NEWHL) 2-0 in the first period of play. 

Just over five and a half minutes into the game, sophomore forward Nicole Unsworth (Milwaukee, Wis./East Coast Wizards) scored her first goal of the evening to give Plattsburgh State a 1-0 lead. Sophomore defenseman Sierra Benjamin (Palm Coast, Fla./Northwood School) took a few steps in from the right point and released a low wrist shot that was redirected by Unsworth through the goaltender's five-hole. Sophomore forward Taylor Whitney (Livonia, Mich./Little Caesars) garnered the secondary assist on the goal that was scored at the 5:33 mark.

The score remained 1-0 until the final minute of the first period when sophomore forward Sara Krauseneck (Saginaw, Mich./Northern Cyclones) scored her team-leading 15th goal of the season at the 19:35 mark. Junior forward Abby Brush (Mount Prospect, Ill./Chicago Young Americans) had a breakaway opportunity and her shot was saved. However, the rebound bounced around in front of the net off the skate of junior forward and alternate captain Annie Katonka (Pittsburgh, Pa./Pittsburgh Penguins Elite) to Krauseneck, who finished for the goal. Katonka and Brush garnered the assists.

In the second period, Plattsburgh State outshot Potsdam, 17-3, and the Cardinals outscored the Bears, 2-1, to take a 4-1 lead into the second intermission.

Whitney held the puck in the Bears' defensive zone at the right point and chipped the puck ahead to Unsworth. Unsworth skated to the front of the net and scored with a deke for her second goal of the game and her 11th of the season at 7:42 of the second period. Whitney recorded her second assist of the game on the goal that increased the Cardinal lead to 3-0.

Katonka made the score 4-0 when she tallied her first goal of the night at 14:08 of the second period. Benjamin took a slap shot from the high slot that Katonka deflected over the goaltender's shoulder for the goal. Brush was credited with the secondary assist.

Potsdam's lone goal came at 17:17 of the second period. Allie Banas took a shot from near the left face-off dot. Standing just outside the top of the crease, Emily Burke deflected in the shot for her first goal of the season. Natalie Wasielewski recorded the secondary assist.

Plattsburgh State had an 18-3 edge in shots on goal in the third period and the Cardinals added two more goals to make the final score 6-1.

At 10:56 of the third period, Katonka scored her second goal of the night and her 14th of the season. A pass from Krauseneck deflected off the skate of senior defenseman Hannah Kiraly (Glendale, Ariz./Northern Cyclones) towards the front of the net. Katonka got to the puck and knocked it in before the diving goaltender could cover it. Kiraly and Krauseneck recorded the assists.

The final goal of the game came at 12:19 of the third period when junior defenseman and captain Erin McArdle (Macomb, Mich./Belle Tire) unleashed a slap shot from the slot for her fifth goal of 2019-20. Sophomore forward Holly Schmelzer (East Amherst, N.Y./Niagara Jr. Purple Eagles) and junior forward Kaitlin Drew-Mead (Niagara Falls, N.Y./Buffalo Bisons) tallied the assists.

Sophomore goaltender Ashley Davis (12-0-0), the reigning NEWHL Goalie of the Week, made 13 saves for the Cardinals. Kayla McCabe (4-4-0) stopped 49 shots for the Bears. 

Shots on goal were 55-14 in favor of Plattsburgh State.

Neither team converted on the power play as Plattsburgh State was 0-of-2 and Potsdam went 0-of-3.

The Cardinals next host NEWHL foe SUNY Cortland for a two-game series on Friday, Feb. 7, and Saturday, Feb. 8 at the Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. for Friday's game and 3 p.m. for Saturday's contest. Potsdam plays a NEWHL game at Buffalo State on Friday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m.

Thanks to UFirst Federal Credit Union, admission to all Plattsburgh State women's ice hockey home games is free for the entirety of the 2019-20 season. UFirst Federal Credit Union is the official game day sponsor for Cardinal women's ice hockey in 2019-20.