Score: Elmira College 4, Plattsburgh State 2
Records: Elmira (7-0-0), Plattsburgh State (6-2-0)
Location: Plattsburgh, N.Y. -- Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena
PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. -- The No. 3/3-ranked Elmira College women's ice hockey team put the country on notice Sunday night at the Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena in Plattsburgh, New York, as the Soaring Eagles defeated their longtime rivals, the No. 2/2 Plattsburgh State Cardinals, by a 4-2 score to claim the 2017 UNO Classic Championship.
The victory ended a seven-game skid for the Soaring Eagles against the four-time defending NCAA Division III champions and marked EC's first triumph over its former ECAC West Conference foe since February 1, 2015. Sunday's win was also the second in a row over a nationally-ranked opponent, as the Purple and Gold bested No. 6/6 Middlebury College, 4-1, in the opening round of the UNO Classic on Saturday.
Elmira goaltender Kelcey Crawford '18 put on an absolute clinic in Sunday's monumental win and was rightfully crowned the UNO Classic's Most Valuable Player. Crawford made a whopping 62 saves, including 23 in the second period and 22 in a clutch third-period shutout, shattering the former program single-game held by Lisa Marshall '14 (56). Crawford also surpassed Marshall (904) for fifth-place all-time in the Elmira record books, as her tremendous night increased her career saves total to 957.
The Purple and Gold scored twice in the first period and took an early 2-0 lead over the Cardinals. The first of those two tallies came at the 12:03 mark of the opening period off the stick of Katie Granato '19. The play began in the defensive zone, where Maddie Evangelous '19 secured a loose puck off of an errant Plattsburgh pass and began a rush by feeding it ahead to Maddy Jerolman '19. After crossing the blue line, Jerolman found Granato trailing through the slot and the junior forward beat Cardinal netminder Brooke Wolejko five-hole for the game's first goal.
EC doubled its advantage 6:15 later, when Louisa Lippiatt Durnell '18 found the back of the net. Durnell hauled in a rebound off of a long Kristin Chivers '19 shot to the left of the cage and the fourth-year forward directed a centering pass towards Sarah Hughson '18 on the doorstep of the crease. The puck was knocked around at the feet of several players, before Durnell found it at the end of her stick on the left post and the East Sussex, England, native shoveled it top-shelf.
The Cardinals responded quickly to cut the deficit in half, as junior Courtney Moriarty cleaned up a loose puck situation in front of the Elmira goal just 26 seconds later. Momentum appeared to be on Plattsburgh State's side at the start of the second period as well, as the hosts needed a mere 30 seconds after winning the opening faceoff of the period to draw the score even on a Mackenzie Millen tally.
Elmira regained the lead, 3-2, 2:16 later a tip-in from rookie Emma Crocker '21, which would go down as the eventual game-winner. After carrying the puck across the blue line, Meghan Fonfara '18 fed it to Crocker from behind the net. The freshman's initial shot was saved by Wolejko and Fonfara's second-chance attempt deflected off of the Plattsburgh goalie and out to the right wing. From there, Kristin Chivers '19 slapped the puck back towards the net from the right faceoff dot and Crocker was able to re-direct it past Wolejko to put EC up by one.
The second period would not end without some controversy, however, as the Cardinals thought they had scored the game-tying goal late in the stanza. Freshman defender Kayla Goleniak released a long-range shot from the left-wing side that was deflected by Moriarty, who was camped in front of the cage. However, the officials immediately waved off the goal due to a high stick on the tip-in.
Neither side found much success on the offensive end in the final period, but that was mostly due to the brick wall built by Crawford between the pipes. Plattsburgh State outshot Elmira, 22-to-5, in the third, but the Purcellville, Virginia, native was there to deny all 22 shots on goal to preserve the narrow lead. Inside the final 69 seconds alone, Crawford made five stops, as the Cardinals won multiple faceoffs inside their own zone and frantically searched for an equalizer.
With 27 ticks left on the clock, Evangelous tallied an empty-net goal from the neutral zone for some much-needed insurance, all but sealing the victory.
In Their Own Words…
Head Coach Tim Crowley on his team's victory over the defending national champions…
"We found a way to get a big win. I though we battled and we were able to come out on top. It's a win against a ranked opponent and a well-coached team. We know these wins are important come March."
Coach Crowley when asked about Kelcey Crawford's incredible performance in goal…
"I cannot say enough about Kelcey's performance tonight. She was unbelievable. Every time we needed a save, she stepped up for us. We don't get that result without her being out best player on the ice."
Coach Crowley on the importance of grabbing an early lead over the Cardinals…
"I thought we came out strong and had a good first period. That last minute goal is something we'd like to straighten out, but we responded well every time they challenged us."
News and Notes
- Elmira's record remains perfect at 7-0-0, while the Cardinals fall to 6-2-0.
- The Soaring Eagles are one of just two teams in the nation with a 100.0 win percentage, with the other being Connecticut College (2-0-0).
- EC earned a pair of nationally-ranked wins over No. 6/6 Middlebury and No. 2/2 Plattsburgh State to claim the 2017 UNO Classic Championship.
- EC's win over the Cardinals is the first since February 1, 2015, the day the Soaring Eagles completed a two-game sweep of Plattsburgh State on its home ice.
- The series record is still in the Cardinals' favor, as Elmira is 20-30-3 all-time against its bitter North Country rival.
- Crawford, Chivers and Crocker were named to the UNO Classic All-Tournament Team, with Crawford garnering MVP honors.
- Crawford broke the program's single-game saves record by making a career-high 62 stops against the Cardinals on Sunday night.
- The fourth-year goalie moved ahead of Lisa Marshall '14 (904) for fifth place on the career saves list, as Crawford has amassed 957 in her four years donning the Purple and Gold.
- Crocker extended her point streak to six consecutive games, while Evangelous and Fonfara have registered a point in five-straight contests.
- Durnell has posted at least one point in four consecutive games.
The No. 2/2 nationally-ranked Soaring Eagles will return to United Collegiate Hockey Conference (UCHC) play on Friday, December 1, when EC travels to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to take on Chatham University at 7:00 p.m.
Photo appears courtesy of Gabe Dickens.