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January 17, 2014

#4 Norwich skates by PSU Women’s Ice Hockey

Ponte makes 46 saves for Panthers; Cassidy scores lone goal

            PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Senior Emily MacKinnon (Kirkland, Que.) scored a pair of third-period goals Friday evening as Norwich University defeated Plymouth State University, 5-1, in Eastern College Athletic Conference Women's East ice hockey action at Hanaway Rink.

            The story of the game, however, was PSU senior goalie Ali Ponte (Richmond Hill, Ont.), who made a season-high 46 saves to keep the Panthers in the game. She made at least 14 saves in all three periods and helped PSU kill off three of Norwich's four power plays.

            The Cadets, ranked #4 in both Division III national polls, remained perfect in conference play (7-0) while improving to 11-3 overall; Plymouth State gave a valiant effort but fell to 3-11 overall and 1-6 in the ECAC East.

            Norwich had an 18-1 shot advantage in the first period but could only get one puck past Ponte. Senior Tori Charron (Tecumseh, Ont.), the conference's leading goal-scorer, put the Cadets on the board with just 1:15 to play in the period, taking a pass from junior Vanessa Champagne (St. Nazarie, Que.), weaving through the Panther defense and deking Ponte before depositing her 15th goal of the season.

            The visitors doubled their lead with a power play goal four minutes into the second period. Senior Marie-Philip Guay (Longueuil, Que.) dumped the puck towards the net from just inside the blue line and the bouncing puck made its way through traffic past Ponte for a 2-0 lead. Senior Haley Gibson (Richmond, Ont.) made it 3-0 five minutes later when she snuck behind the Panther defense, received a feed at the blue line from classmate Brittany Sharman (Ayer's Cliff, Que.) and went in alone on Ponte, scoring on a quick snap shot through the pads.

            Despite the lop-sided margin in shots, PSU made things interesting with a goal with 11 minutes remaining in the third period to cut the margin to 3-1. Senior Meghan Cassidy (Somerville, N.J.) picked up a loose puck in the slot after the goalie had made a save on freshman Haley Branovan (Wexford, Pa.); Cassidy lifted a backhander past the goalie just under the cross bar for her first goal of the season.

            MacKinnon gave the Cadets some breathing room, scoring her fourth of the season less than two minutes after Cassidy's goal, and added her second of the game and fifth of the season on a rebound with 8:24 remaining.

            Junior goalie Loren Carrier (Chandler, Ariz.) needed to make just nine saves to earn the victory in the Norwich goal. The Cadets finished with a 51-10 shot advantage.

            Both teams play conference games again on Saturday as Plymouth State hosts Saint Michael's College at 2:00 p.m. at Hanaway Rink while Norwich moves on to the University of Southern Maine for a 1:00 p.m. face-off.

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