PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. -- With 4:49 left in overtime, Allison Era's shot sailed through a screen and into the back of the net to lift Plattsburgh State to a hard-fought 1-0 win against St. Thomas (Minn.) in the NCAA semifinals on Friday afternoon at the Stafford Ice Arena.
The Cardinals (27-1-1) came out firing, outshooting the Tommies (20-6-3) by a 19-5 margin through one period of play, but St. Thomas goaltender Alise Riedel answered the call every single time to keep Plattsburgh State off the board.
The scoreless battle waged on into the third period as the Cardinals could not find an answer to Riedel. Despite a 14-9 advantage in shots on goal for Plattsburgh State, both teams had solid chances to break the tie. The Cardinals hit a number of pipes in the third but couldn't get one through while Plattsburgh State's Sydney Aveson came up with a save off her right pad with 1:15 left in the regulation to keep the game scoreless. The Tommies also had a two-on-one in the final minute, but St. Thomas was unable to get a shot off, ensuring extra hockey.
The St. Thomas penalty-kill unit successfully killed off four penalties in regulation before shutting down two more Plattsburgh State power-play opportunities in the overtime period. Then the Tommies had a chance to end it when Kelsey Barnier skated in alone but her shot went wide of the net and the game continued on.
St. Thomas was whistled for a tripping penalty at the 14:29 mark of overtime to give the Cardinals their seventh power play of the game. Andrea Ziesmann's pass found Era on the right point just inside the blue line. With a lot of traffic in front, Era reared back and blasted a shot into the top left corner of the net to unload the Cardinals' bench.
"That was probably the best moment of my career," Era said. "To have your team tackle you and to be the reason why is unexplainable."
"We're a resilient team and we've been focused since day one," Houle said. "Heading into overtime, we just wanted to get pucks on net and create some traffic in front."
Shots on goal favored the Cardinals 64-30. Plattsburgh State went 1-for-7 on the power play while St. Thomas was 0-for-2 on the night.
Aveson improved to 21-1-1 on the year, turning away all 30 shots she faced to earn her 14th shutout of the season and set a NCAA single-season shutout record.
The Cardinals will be making their fourth appearance in the NCAA Division III championship game and first since 2008. Saturday's showdown will mark just the second time the two teams have met in the NCAA tournament with the Cadets earning a 3-2 victory versus the Cardinals in the 2010 NCAA Division III quarterfinals. Plattsburgh State owns a 5-4-1 all-time record against Norwich.