A highlight reel goal by Plattsburgh's Allison Era at 7:20 of the third period proved to be the difference-maker in the Cardinals' 3-1 win over nationally-ranked No. 5 Middlebury College in the final non-conference game of the regular season Wednesday night at the Stafford Ice Arena.
With the win, Plattsburgh State remains undefeated with a record of 19-0-1 overall. The Panthers drop to 12-3-2 on the year.
Despite a 10-3 first period advantage in shots on goal for Plattsburgh, a closely-contested 20 minutes resulted in zeros on the scoreboard at the first intermission. The game remained scoreless until Chelsea VanGlahn found the back of the net at 11:23 of the second to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead. Alyssa Parke ripped a shot from the point that was turned away by Middlebury goaltender Laura Pinsent, but VanGlahn picked up the rebound and scored off the backhand for her fifth of the year.
Morgan MacInnis came within inches of making it 2-0 at the end of the second period as she skated in alone with 1:20 left but her shot rang off the post and bounced back into play.
The Panthers received a power play early in the third and quickly jumped on the opportunity. Plattsburgh failed to clear the puck and Sara Ugalde swatted it out of the air to keep it in the zone. Hannah Bielawski received the puck along the far boards and found Madison Styrbicki, who ripped a shot from just inside the blue line that beat Sydney Aveson to tie it at 1-1 at the 1:55 mark.
The Cardinals regained the lead at 7:20 when a cross-ice pass in the neutral zone by Caitlin Gilligan served as the set-up for Era's game-winner. Era carried the puck into the Middlebury end and with a nifty toe-drag made her way around a pair of Panthers' defenders before lifting a shot over the shoulder of Pinsent to put Plattsburgh up 2-1.
An empty-net goal by Emma Rutherford with 54 seconds remaining would round out the scoring for the Cardinals.
The Plattsburgh defense held Middlebury to 11 shots while the Cardinals finished with 34. Plattsburgh went 1-for-4 on the power-play while Middlebury went 1-for-5.
Aveson recorded 10 saves to improve to 15-0-1 for the Cardinals. Pinsent was solid in the Middlebury net, turning away 31 shots.
Plattsburgh State returns to conference play this weekend, hosting the Utica Pioneers for a pair of games. The series opens on Saturday at 7 p.m. before the final home game of the regular season on Sunday at 3 p.m.
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