Women’s Hockey Falls to Plattsburgh

By Fritz Parker

The third-ranked Panther women’s hockey team had a tough final regular-season matchup on Saturday, Feb. 21, facing off with the second-ranked Cardinals from Plattsburgh State. After falling behind early, Middlebury cut into the Plattsburgh lead in the final two periods but ultimately came up short, falling 4-3 at home.

Prior to the game against Plattsburgh, the Panthers had already clinched the top seed in the upcoming NESCAC tournament, as well as virtually guaranteeing themselves a berth in the NCAA tournament. Despite those facts, the matchup held significance as it featured two of the top teams in division-III hockey as they jockeyed for momentum heading into postseason play.

Plattsburgh wasted little time getting ahead on the scoreboard; Cardinal Katelyn Turk beat Panther goalkeeper Maddie Marsh ’15 in just the third minute of play to give her team the advantage. After a body-checking penalty was called on Plattsburgh midway through the period, Katie Mandigo ’16 was able to tie the game for the Panthers by converting a feed from Katie Sullivan ’15 and captain Kate Moreau ’15 for a power-play goal.

With the game tied in the opening minutes of the second period, Plattsburgh regained the lead on a goal from Bridget Balisy. That goal was followed by a string of three opportunities for the Cardinals to pad their lead on the power play, but the Panther penalty-kill unit was up to the task of shutting down all three. After playing much of the period on their own end of the ice, however, the Panther defense faltered as time ran out, allowing a goal with just six seconds remaining in the period. Plattsburgh went into the second break with a 3-1 lead.

After seven minutes of pitched play to open the third period, Middlebury cut into the lead with a goal from Sullivan, who was assisted by Elizabeth Wulf ’18 and Carly Watson ’17. As the Panthers were hunting for an equalizer in the middle part of the period, Plattsburgh broke through for a crucial fourth goal in the 13th minutes to extend their lead back to two at 4-2. Another goal from Sullivan – for her third point of the game – was too little too late for Middlebury, and the Panthers fell 4-3.

The loss is the first for the Middlebury team since Nov. 29, and just their third of the season. It was also the first loss of the season for Marsh, who stopped 27 of the 31 shots she faced as she fell to 10-1-2 in starts this season.

Top-seed Middlebury advances to face eighth-seed Hamilton in the quarterfinal round of the NESCAC tournament. The two teams met earlier this season for a weekend doubleheader in late January, with the Panthers taking both matchups. As long as the team continues winning, Middlebury is guaranteed home-ice advantage throughout the tournament.

If they can get through the first two rounds, the Panthers are likely to encounter Amherst in the conference final. The Lord Jeffs are the only NESCAC team that Middlebury did not beat during the regular season, as the one and two seeds tied during both of their games in mid-January.

The puck drops in Kenyon Arena for the Middlebury-Hamilton matchup at 3:00 this Saturday.

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