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With the semester layoff in the background, the nation’s top four teams were back at it in earnest in their collective return. No.1 Plattsburgh hosted No.3 Norwich and No. 2 Middlebury invited No.4 Elmira to the Green Mountain State for a Saturday night contest. The latter proved the more entertaining of the two.

At Plattsburgh’s Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena, Cardinals goalie Sydney Aveson penciled in her eighth whitewash of the season and 25th of her storied career in a 6-0 battering of the Cadets. Aveson made 27 saves in the lopsided affair. Plattsburgh killed of all five Norwich power-play opportunities, improving their seasonal statistical perfection to a brilliant 42-of-42.

Middlebury’s Katie Mandigo score 1:50 into overtime propelled the No. 2 Panthers to a 3-2 win over No. 4 Elmira Saturday night at Kenyon Arena. The Soaring Eagles gained a tenuous 2-1 edge midway through the second period on a tally by Briana Saltstone at 10:57, but the host club drew even on Pam Schulman’s second goal of the season with 7:44 remaining in regulation. In addition to outshooting the opposition 31-23, Middlebury played its first penalty-free contest of the season.

Pointers split first test of 2014
Wisconsin-Stevens Point (No.5) split with St. Norbert in a weekend set in which each road team prevailed. Pointers goalie Janna Beilke-Skoug recorded her 25th career win in Friday’s 3-1 victory. The following afternoon at Ice Hawks Arena, St. Norbert’s Rachel Koppang broke a 1-1 tie with the lone score in the middle period as the Green Knights secured a 3-1 win as well.

Tommies Maine adventure
St. Thomas returned from break with a 3-1 win over host Bowdoin Sunday afternoon. The Tommies two-game Eastern trip concludes Monday with a matchup with Massachusetts-Boston. The Tommies ended a three-game winless streak with the positive result. Sophomore forward Karina Marette sent home the game-winning goal with 9:00 remaining in the third period. Senior goalie Alise Riedel upped her record to 6-1-1 with the 25-save outing.

Tournament time
Both Massachusetts-Boston and St. Michael’s prevailed at their own tournaments this weekend, and in the process garnered a number of program “firsts.”

The Beacons captured the Codfish Bowl title after six previous years of coming up empty-handed. Further north, the Purple Knights eradicated themselves from a winless season with a 5-1 defeat of Nichols at Cairns Arena on Saturday in the deciding game of the St. Michael’s DoubleTree Hockey Classic.

St. Michael’s, 0-9-0 going into weekend action, battled Sacred Heart to a scoreless tie in its opener on Friday. Purple Knights freshman goaltender Tina Frasca earned her first career shutout, making a season-high 37 stops. Pioneers goalie Alexius Schutt finished with 31 saves.

Sacred Heart rebounded less than 24 hours later, completing a 2-1 win over Plymouth State. Schutt mirrored her effort from the previous game, registering 31 saves in the victory.

The Purple Knights’ Amanda Kempainen registered the 11th hat trick in program history in the triumph over the Pioneers. Kempainen (4-1-5), a sophomore forward, had one goal in 15 games a year ago for her club.

The Beacons ran their unbeaten string to five games with a 2-0 win over Connecticut College in the championship game of the Codfish. Tournament MVP, defenseman Samantha Fallon got the game-winner 7:32 into the opening period and the Beacons defense, bolstered by the play of goalie sophomore Casey Schaejbe (29 saves), took over from there. Schaejbe lowered her GAA to 1.58 with the performance.