A dynasty in sports is an easy term to throw around into the debate arena. What does it take to become a dynasty in sports fans’ eyes? Championships, MVPs, win-loss records, and much more are all ways to measure the accomplishments of teams at all levels of competitive play. Well now the SUNY Plattsburgh womens hockey team is entering their recent performances into the debate arena as proof of dynasty. This weekend, the lady Cardinals won their third consecutive and fifth overall NCAA Division III ice hockey championship when they notched a 5-1 victory over the University of Wisconsin-River Falls at the Ronald B. Stafford Ice Arena on the SUNY Plattsburgh campus.
Despite being down 1-0 with 10 minutes remaining in the first period, Plattsburgh did not get nervous or worried. They quickly tied the game at 1-1 at the 13:13 mark of the first period before taking control in the second where they found themselves up 4-1 behind a goal and two assists from sophomore forward Melissa Sheeran and a goal and assist from senior Giovanna Senese. From there it was simply waiting for the clock to hit zero, finishing things off with a final score of 5-1.
This team, led by four seniors and five juniors who have been on the women’s ice hockey team for all three championships, has been at the top of the rankings consistently in recent years. But this year’s has a bit of an extra special touch, as the lady Cardinals finished the year with a 29-1-0 record, their best record in program history. Plattsburgh now joins Middlebury College as the only programs to win three consecutive national championships in ice hockey.
Since the beginning of the 21st century in 2001-02, the SUNY Plattsburgh women have compiled a stellar record of 355-52-24, which is an amazing .852 winning percentage. Those kinds of numbers can be used to argue dynasty in any sport. The ladies ended this year’s championship season on a 7 game winning streak. For the championship win to come on their home ice makes perfect sense too, as the Cardinals finished the season with a 17-0 record at home.
How does a successful program like this get built exactly? The makeup of a winning team like this in any sport is equal parts talent and chemistry. Some teams are put together with individual skill sets that are unique to the individual players, hoping chemistry develops over time. Others concentrate on mixing talent with chemistry from the beginning. With Plattsburgh’s players coming from as far as Alaska and California, and a good number from Canada, the mix proves successful. These lady Cardinals are as close off the ice as they are on.
Sophomore Melissa Sheeran puts that chemistry into perspective, saying “On and off the ice, we’re a tight group, and I think that’s what separates us from teams I’ve played on the past. You say you want to be a family with your team, but I look into that locker room and literally every one of those girls I feel like is my sister.” This goes a long way to show how chemistry needs to work both during and after the game.
So, congratulations to our SUNY Plattsbugh lady Cardinals for once again reaching the top of the mountain in NCAA women’s ice hockey. The north country of New York, with snow topped mountains and frozen land surrounding everyone through the winter hockey season, is officially Cardinal Country now. And these Cardinals can fly wherever they want, whenever they want, with success.
Taras Kufel is the Manager of Digital Engagement at the State University of New York.