Women's Hockey Falls in NCAA Title Game
March 17, 2007
Plattsburgh State stopped Middlebury's quest for a fourth straight NCAA women's hockey title with a 2-1 victory at the Stafford Arena in Plattsburgh, New York on Saturday. The Panthers, in a rematch of the 2006 title game, held the Cardinals to their lowest goal output of the season, but the top-ranked and undefeated Cardinals (27-0-2) were just too strong in net en route to their first ever NCAA championship. The Middlebury seniors end their careers having won more games than any other group in school history (110-13-3).
Plattsburgh State struck first when Lindsay Brown scored at the 19:00 mark to take a 1-0 lead. In all three games this season, the Cardinals scored the first goal of the game. Plattsburgh State held a 10-6 shot advantage and maintained their 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
In the second period the Cardinals expanded their lead to 2-0 when Shay Bywater scored from the doorstep off a nice centering feed by Danielle Blanchard at the 6:38 mark. Middlebury could not exploit a two-skater advantage midway through the period. Cardinal goaltender Breanne Doyle made some great saves during the 1:31 span of the 5-on-3 power play. But another penalty on Plattsburgh State moments after getting back to full-strength gave the Panthers another power play opportunity. Middlebury would capitalize at the 15:58 mark when Shannon Sylvester redirected a shot from the point by Karen Levin to cut the Cardinals' lead to 2-1. The Panthers continued to pressure Plattsburgh in the waning minutes of the period, but Doyle made several spectacular stops to deny Middlebury the equalizer. Although trailing 2-1, the Panthers out-shot the Cardinals 14-7 in the period and had a 20-17 shot advantage after two periods.
The Cardinals, who owned a 20-0-1 record when leading after two periods during the season, relied on their defense to keep Middlebury from tying the game in the third. The Plattsburgh defense did a great job clamping down on the Panther offensive attack. In the final minutes of the game Middlebury took an interference penalty that forced the Panthers to try and attack short-handed. Once back to full-strength the Panthers pulled their goalie for the final 1:11. Middlebury could not score as the game ended 2-1 in favor of Plattsburgh.
Middlebury goaltender Lani Wright's record falls to 13-3 as she made 22 saves, while her counterpart for Plattsburgh State Breanne Doyle made 28 stops to improve her record to 21-0-2.
Ellen Sargent and Shannon Tarrant were named to the All-Tournament team.