No. 3/3 Elmira Advances to UNO Classic Title Game with 4-1 Win over No. 6/6 Middlebury

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Score: No. 3/3 Elmira College 4, No. 6/6 Middlebury College 1
Records: Elmira (6-0-0), Middlebury (2-1-0)
Location: Plattsburgh, N.Y. -- Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena

 The No. 3/3 nationally-ranked Elmira College women's ice hockey team opened the 2017 UNO Classic with a signature 4-1 non-conference victory over No. 6/6 Middlebury College on Saturday night. The Soaring Eagles advance to Sunday's tournament championship game, where they'll face longtime rival and second-ranked Plattsburgh State at 5:00 p.m. inside the Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena.

The win is the first for the Purple and Gold against a nationally-ranked opponent this season and the first such victory for EC since upending then No. 8/10 Amherst College on the road on January 24, 2017. The UNO Classic title game will not only pit EC against a second consecutive ranked opponent in No. 2/2 Plattsburgh, but it ensures that the bitter rivalry between the former ECAC West foes continues for a 17th straight season.

The Soaring Eagles netted the game's first goal on their only power-play opportunity late in the opening period. Katie Granato '19, who earned the secondary assist on the play, fed a cross-ice pass to Louisa Lippiatt Durnell '18 just inside the blue line. Durnell ripped a hard shot from the right-wing side that was initially saved, but Shannon Strawinski '19 was there to backhand the rebound inside the near post at the 17:08 mark.

Although both sides combined for just one infraction in the first 20 minutes of action, the second period began with a slew of penalties. Three of those penalties were assessed against the Soaring Eagles, giving the Panthers a 5-on-3 advantage. It took only 14 seconds for the Panthers to exploit the two-skater advantage, as Middlebury's Jessica Young tallied the equalizer with a one-timer. Young's goal is the first power-play score allowed by the Soaring Eagles through the first six games of the 2017-18 season. Overall, EC's penalty-kill unit was successful on 4-of-5 chances on Saturday, improving to 27-for-28 (.964) on the season.

The score remained tied at 1-all until the 11:12 mark of the second stanza. Devyn Gilman'21 and Meghan Fonfara '18 headed a 3-on-3 rush by the Purple and Gold into the offensive zone. Fonfara collected a centering pass from Gilman and launched a shot that sailed wide to the left side of the net. The puck, however, caromed perfectly off of the back wall and directly to Emma Crocker '21, who was streaking down the right wing. Middlebury goalie Lin Han slid to her right to play the initial shot, but was unable to recover in time, leaving the backdoor wide open for Crocker to give Elmira a 2-1 lead.

EC added a pair of insurance goals in the third period. Crocker had a hand in both third-period tallies, scoring the first and assisting on the latter. The freshman from Abington, Massachusetts secured the puck inside the right faceoff circle and deked her way through a pair of Middlebury defenders along the goal line before shoveling a back-handed shot past Han to make it a 3-1 score 2:48 into the period.

The Soaring Eagles tacked on one more goal on wrister from Kristin Chivers '19 with under five minutes remaining in regulation. Crocker fed the puck to Chivers on the blue line and the third-year defender launched a long shot through heavy traffic in front of the net. Han was caught looking to the right-wing side for the shot and didn't see the puck until it bounced into the lower left corner of the net.

Fourth-year netminder Kelcey Crawford '18 improved to 5-0-0 after registering a season-high 33 saves between the posts for the Soaring Eagles. Despite surrendering her first power-play goal of the year, the Purcellville, Virginia, native climbed to first in the nation in save percentage (.971) and ranks second in goals-against average (0.60) through the first six starts of her senior campaign.

In Their Own Words…
Head Coach Tim Crowley when asked about picking up an important win over nationally-ranked Middlebury…
"We were excited about the result. They're a good team and I thought it was an evenly-played game. We put in the preparation and I thought the things we stressed throughout the week benefited us tonight."

Coach Crowley on the performance of Kelcey Crawford and the defensive unit…
"Kelcey was great for us again. I know that, with her in net, everyone feels confident that we have one of the better goaltenders. The D-core was solid again, too. When we needed a play they stepped up for us."

Coach Crowley on Emma Crocker's season-high three-point outing…
"Emma made some big plays for us. I thought her line was going tonight. She is someone that we feel can produce every weekend moving forward."

News and Notes

  • Elmira remains unbeaten at 6-0-0 thus far in 2017-18.
  • The all-time series against Middlebury is tied at 10-10-3 following tonight's win.
  • The triumph over the No. 6/6 Panthers is EC's first against a nationally-ranked opponent this season.
  • Crocker extended her point streak to five consecutive games with a season-best three points (2g-1a).
  • Strawinski has recorded at least one point in all six games this season, and dating back to the 2016-17 season, has done so in 11 straight contests.
  • Evangelous, Fonfara and Gilman each lengthened their point streaks to four consecutive games.
  • Crawford's 33 saves against Middlebury are a single-game season-high for the senior.
  • With 895 career saves, Crawford surpassed Cara McGurry '08 for sixth-place all-time in EC history and need just 10 more to move ahead of Lisa Marshall'14 (904) for fifth.

Up Next
The third-ranked Soaring Eagles will conclude play at the UNO Classic in the tournament title game against the No. 2/2 Plattsburgh State Cardinals on Sunday, November 26. The opening puck drop at Plattsburgh's Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena is slated for 5:00 p.m.

No contests today.
No contests today.
No contests today.