Women look to experience
Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 18, 2012 20:10
For the Plattsburgh State women’s hockey team, the final weekend of the 2011-12 season ended on a bittersweet note.
The Lady Cardinals dropped a 2-1 game to former conference foe RIT in the NCAA Division III semifinals before winning the third-place game against Gustavus Adolphus, 4-3, in overtime.
The final USCHO.com poll of the season ranked the squad at No. 3 in the country.
PSUC head coach Kevin Houle was pleased with his team’s growth and development throughout the course of the season.
“We certainly had a young team last year with eight or nine new players in the lineup all the time, so it
took us a while to find our stride during the course of the season,” Houle said. “We had seven losses, which is the most I’ve had here since taking over. We were working hard and playing hard, but maybe not getting the bounces to go our way. We could have been playing in that national championship game, but (the win) was a nice way to finish the season.”
The Lady Cards graduated more than 16 percent of their scoring from a year ago, with Justine Fisher, Kylie Klassen, Erika Shaubel and Helen Giroux all gone. But they return nine of the top 10 point scorers.
“We didn’t lose a lot of (goal production), but we lost some real character kids,” Houle said. “It’s easy to sit back and say, ‘We’re not going to miss them,’ but I know we’ll miss them. There’s leadership and character there. We need different people to step-up and leadership from the upperclassman.”
On the defensive side of the puck, PSUC returns a cast of one junior and three sophomores, who’ve totaled 144 games played combined in their careers. Houle said he thinks the experience could pay dividends for this upcoming season.
“Allison Era is anchoring that group as a junior and then we have the other three returners, so it’s a mix,” Houle said. “We’re confident they’re talented players. There’s certainly an adjustment (with the absence of Shuabel), but hopefully they can make it quickly.”
Goaltender Sydney Aveson returns from a stellar 2011-12 campaign. She was selected as a First Team All-American in the East region, while compiling an 18-6-2 record with a .930 save percentage and 1.62 goals-against average.
Houle expects Aveson to be the focal point of the defense and a penalty kill that was 85.2 percent last season.
“Your goaltender should be your best penalty killer,” Houle said. “You can’t go anywhere at any level of hockey without solid goaltending. She had some growing pains early in the season last year but once she got past that with some confidence, she was excellent, so obviously we expect the same from her this year.”
Houle will look to seniors Teal Gove and Jordan Caldwell for leadership on and off the ice. The duo has combined for 59 goals and 135 points since 2009-10.
“They’ve both been excellent, character players here since day one,” Houle said. “That’s a positive and it terms of leadership, those two are going to be excellent for us. They’re respected by their teammates as players and off the ice.”