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Bobcats wrap up first season

Jenny DeJung of Paul Smith’s and Norwich defender Emma Theriault watch a puck take flight in front of Cadets goalie Katie Bishop Manning during Sunday’s game at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

LAKE PLACID — It looks like the inaugural season of women’s ice hockey at Paul Smith’s College has come to an end.

On Sunday in Lake Placid, the Bobcats dropped the final game of their Independent Women’s Club Hockey League schedule, falling 3-0 to Norwich in an afternoon matchup at the Olympic Center’s 1980 Herb Brooks Arena.

An unbeatable goaltender and a rocky second period spelled doom for Paul Smith’s. The Cadets netted all three of their goals in the middle stanza during a span of less than six minutes, and got an outstanding performance from start to finish by their netminder Katie Bishop Manning, who held the ‘Cats at bay to earn the shutout.

Under head coach Casey Gerrish, the Paul Smith’s women’s team took on a schedule that featured IWCHL matchups and non-league games, and with Sunday’s loss, the Bobcats appear to be eliminated from playoff contention. They currently own a 7-3 record overall, but their three setbacks have come in league play, including a 2-1 loss at Norwich during the fall semester.

After a scoreless opening period, Emma Theriault, Lauren Trippiedi and Caitlin Heale each buried a puck in the second to account for the Norwich University club team’s scoring. Theriault opened the scoring 4:39 into the period, Trippiedi found the back of the net at the 8:04 mark to up the Cadets lead to 2-0, and Heale sent the game’s final puck home 2:21 later.

McKenna Yette of the Bobcats takes off with the puck past a fallen Norwich opponent during Sunday’s game at the Olympic Center’s 1980 Rink. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

Norwich’s first two goals came on shots that normally don’t get past Katey Snyder, the Bobcats steady goaltender. The Cadets final tally was a back-breaker that came when Heale scored on a breakaway while the Bobcats were skating with a 5-on-3 power play.

“When you give up two kind of fluky goals like that, it’s a dagger,” Gerrish said of Norwich’s first two tallies. “That 5-3 shorthanded breakaway, that was three daggers. That just deflated us. You could see it. In the first period, we were all over them. We ended up out shooting them almost 2-1, but it just wasn’t our day.”

Paul Smith’s entered Sunday’s contest on the heels of an 11-0 shutout victory at Dartmouth College Friday.

“A think that got our heads a little big maybe,” Gerrish said. “We knew Norwich was good. They beat us 2-1 over in their barn in the fall semester. Their goalie, she stood on her head today. I talked to their coach and he said ‘When she’s on, she’s on.’ We got one by her last time should have gotten a couple this time. This should have been our game to win. We aren’t mathematically eliminated, but it’s a pretty good probability that our season is done.”

The Cadets, who play in the IWCHL Adirondack Division West along with Paul Smith’s, improved to 7-1 with the victory. Cadets improved to 7-1 and most likely qualified for the playoffs in the 37-team IWCHL.

“This win most likely clinched us a playoff berth,” Norwich coach Mike Hourigan said. “We had a good game. Our goalie, obviously, had a really great game. They counted 29 shots, I thought it was more like 40. We used the ice well, which is new to us having to play on such a big sheet of ice. Across the board, our three lines is what really allowed us to win. We could run them into the ground, and they were tired in the third period.”

This season’s inaugural Bobcats women’s team was a combination of student-athletes from both Paul Smith’s College and North Country Community College, and for the most part, Gerrish was happy with how things have turned out so far.

“Being a first-year program, maybe some heads and hearts aren’t in it the way they should be,” Gerrish said. “As we go down the road I think you’re going to see that improve a lot more. I think the biggest thing is getting girls to actually commit, and get girls playing who want to be here. I’ve got five commits for 2020. I’d like to see that number get to 12 or 13.”

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