January 15. 2017 12:10AM

Alex Hall's NH College Notebook: Hooksett's Plourde seizes Salem State opportunity

By ALEX HALL


Sarah Plourde did not expect to be the starting goaltender for the Salem State University women's hockey team as a freshman. That does not mean the Hooksett native believes she has not earned that role over the course of the Vikings' season.

Plourde missed time earlier this season due to a concussion but she started seven of Salem State's first 11 games. The Bishop Brady of Concord graduate owned a 3.65 goals against average and .895 save percentage over her first seven starts for Salem State.

Salem State entered its home game against Sacred Heart University on Saturday with a 2-9 overall record and an 0-6 mark in Colonial Hockey Conference play.

The Vikings have three other goalies on their roster - junior Molly Millett, sophomore Katherine Crane and freshman Calie Richman - but it was Plourde who earned the nod out of the gate.

"I didn't think as a freshman competing against a junior, sophomore and another freshman that I was going to be starting at all but when I found out I was starting I was really excited," Plourde said.

There were seasons with the Bishop Brady/Trinity girls' hockey co-op in high school when Plourde was the only goalie on the team. With three other options at her position, Plourde realizes she has to continue raising her game to keep her starting role.

"It's good to have other goalies on the team," Plourde said. "It makes me push myself in practice to want to improve and stay up there with them. It's also nice to get a break in practice sometimes when you're facing so many shots in games and practice."

Plourde made 28 saves in her collegiate debut, a 3-0 season-opening loss at Morrisville State College Nov. 4.

"We did lose 3-0 but it was my first college game," Plourde said. "I think I did pretty well. I made a name for myself and showed everyone why I deserved to be playing."

Plourde said her first college outing showed her she cannot get hung up on goals she allows at this level. She has focused on improving her mental game and coming out of the crease more often since the season-opening setback.

Plourde earned her first college win Nov. 27 when she made a career-high 44 saves in the Vikings' 3-2 triumph over the University of New England.

Plourde wanted to play well against the Nor'Easters because she considered their program before choosing Salem State. She also wanted to get the best of former Concord Capitals youth hockey teammate Annie Mullen, a junior forward for UNE from Concord.

Mullen opened the game's scoring when she put the puck past Plourde late in the first period. The Vikings answered with three straight goals before UNE scored with 25 seconds left.

"It was a lot of fun," Plourde said. "I wanted to prove myself against that team because it was one of the schools I was looking at to play hockey. And playing against Annie Mullen, who I played with at the Capitals and against when she was at Concord High, it was fun playing against her."

Plourde and the Vikings had celebrated just one other victory since defeating UNE heading into Saturday against Sacred Heart. Salem State is a young group with 14 freshmen and just three seniors on the roster but it is focused on finishing strong.

"We're struggling but we're a young team," Plourde said. "Losing games, you just have to bounce back and not focus on the loss but the next game."

Men's indoor track and field

Franklin Pierce University seniors B.J. Smith and Cody Steed were named the Northeast-10 Conference track and field athletes of the week, respectively.

Smith, of Concord, placed 22nd in the 3,000-meter run at the Dartmouth Relays Jan. 8 with a time of 9:03.77. Steed, of Chichester, finished runner-up in the triple jump at the relays with a mark of 13.38 meters.

Men's basketball

Colby-Sawyer College freshman Dana Bean was chosen as the North Atlantic Conference rookie of the week this past week. The center from Franklin recorded two double-doubles, averaging 18 points and 16 rebounds through a 1-1 week for the Chargers. Bean logged a career-high 24 points alongside 18 rebounds in Colby-Sawyer's 85-80 loss at Johnson State College Jan. 3.

Keene State College senior Jeff Lunn returned to the lineup after missing 10 games due to an injury in the team's 92-77 victory at Western Connecticut State University this past Wednesday. The forward from Nashua's one bucket in the contest gave the Owls a 30-20 lead with 5:50 left in the first half. Lunn also grabbed three defensive rebounds in the win.

Volleyball

Southern New Hampshire University announced Edgard "Dega" da Gama as its new head coach this past Thursday. da Gama comes to the Penmen after five seasons serving as the top assistant at Boston College. He assisted in practice and match planning, recruiting, video and statistical analysis while with the Eagles.

Alex Hall compiles the college notebook for the New Hampshire Sunday News. He can be reached at ahall@unionleader.com or on Twitter @AlexKHall.