Amherst Knocks Off Top-Ranked Plattsburgh State, 2-1

Zukas
Randi Zukas '11 netted the game winner against Plattsburgh State with only 4:48 remaining in regulation.

From a Middlebury College release

MIDDLEBURY, VT – In a tournament featuring winners of all eight NCAA Division III Women’s Ice Hockey Championships, second-ranked Amherst College earned a 2-1 win over top-ranked Plattsburgh State in the opening round of the fifth annual Panther/Cardinal Classic at Middlebury College’s Kenyon Arena. The Lord Jeffs will take on fifth-ranked Elmira Monday, Jan. 4 at 4 p.m. for the tournament championship.

Elmira (2002 and 2003 national champion) and Middlebury (2004, 2005, 2006) met in the first game on Sunday morning, with the Soaring Eagles picking up a 3-2 overtime win over the host Panthers. In game two, Amherst (2009) scored early in the first period and late in the third to knock off previously unbeaten Plattsburgh (2007, 2008). The Cardinals will play in the consolation game against third-ranked Middlebury Monday at 7 p.m.

Weather permitting, Monday’s 4 p.m. championship game and 7 p.m. consolation game will feature live video and audio as part of the USCHO Game of the Week schedule. Amherst earned a pair of 4-3 overtime wins over Elmira last year, including a thriller in the NCAA title game that gave the Jeffs their first-ever national championship. Elmira ended Amherst’s 2007-08 season with a 3-2 result in the opening round of the NCAA Championship. The winner of the Panther/Cardinal Classic will make a strong case for the new No. 1 ranking in the USCHO.com Division III Women's Poll.

Although the Jeffs did not get their game winner from junior Randi Zukas (Glen Head, NY) until the final minutes of regulation, Amherst (6-0-2) held a commanding 28-10 advantage in shots against Plattsburgh (7-1-0), including an 11-2 edge in the opening period. Sophomore Sinead Murphy (Rochester, MN) made nine saves to improve to 2-0-2, while Mandy Mackrell stopped 26 shots for Plattsburgh. Sunday marked Plattsburgh's lowest shot total since February of 2005.

Amherst improved to 2-6 all-time against Plattsburgh, with the only other win coming last year in the NCAA Championship opening round. The Jeffs are unbeaten through their first eight games of the season for the first time in program history. Monday's tournament championship will mark Amherst's sixth consecutive game against a team currently ranked in the USCHO.com Division III Women's Poll.

Amherst took a 1-0 lead just 2:17 into the game, as junior forward Brittney Evans (Edina, MN) made a quick spin move just outside the crease and found the back of the net for her first goal of the season. Junior Cianna Wyshnytzky (Hawthorn Woods, IL) and senior tri-captain Kirsten Dier (Appleton, WI) were credited with assists on Amherst’s first goal. The Jeffs had another opportunity at the 16-minute mark when a Courtney Hanlon (Fullerton, CA) shot hit the crossbar, but Amherst would carry its 1-0 lead into the first intermission.

After a scoreless second period, junior forward Braidie Campbell (Surrey, BC) had a chance to double the Amherst lead, but her backhander hit the crossbar. Plattsburgh tied the game at 1-1 at the 8:41 mark, as Laurie Bowler skated to the top of the right face-off circle and snapped a shot past Murphy, who appeared to be screened on the shot.

Zukas scored the game winner with 4:48 remaining in regulation when she blasted home a slapshot from the left point, with assists going to senior Alyssa Chwick (Purchase, NY) and sophomore Emily Vitale (Cheshire, CT). Plattsburgh pulled its goaltender with 25 seconds remaining but could not tie the game up despite a pair of solid opportunities.

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