History of College Hockey America
The College Hockey America (CHA) women’s conference began in the fall of 2002 with four teams including three from the former Great Lakes Women’s Hockey Association (Findlay, Mercyhurst and Wayne State) and Niagara, who previously played in the ECAC.
In the first year of the league (2002-03), each member played two games against the other conference schools. Mercyhurst won the regular-season CHA title with a 6-0 mark outscoring its opponents 26-9. Niagara’s Val Hall earned both CHA Player of the Year and Student-Athlete of the Year honors after recording a league-leading eight points on five goals and three assists.
Oiler goalie Jessica Moffat was selected tournament MVP. Laker coach Michael Sisti and Samantha Shirley were voted CHA Coach of the Year and Rookie of the Year, respectively.
Findlay’s Adam Brinker was voted CHA Coach of the Year, while Oiler Heidi Tallqvist was selected CHA Player of the Year after tying with teammate Hailey Clarkson for the scoring title with 15 points. Clarkson was tabbed CHA Rookie of the Year.
Mercyhurst netminder Desi Clark, after leading the conference in goals-against average during the regular-season, claimed the tournament MVP award. Laker teammate Jessica Dillabough was named CHA Student-Athlete of the Year.
Findlay dropped women’s hockey following the 2003-04 campaign, but Quinnipiac joined the league for one season keeping the membership at four schools. The Bobcats had been a Division I independent for 2003-04.
Mercyhurst made it three consecutive CHA regular-season titles in 2004-05 by compiling an 11-0-1 league mark. The Lakers won three of the conference’s year-end awards with Sisti earning his second coach of the year plaque. Clark was voted Student-Athlete of the Year, while Teresa Marchese was selected Player of the Year after scoring a league-leading 20 points on nine goals and 11 assists.
Marchese was also named the tournament MVP after leading MC to wins over Quinnipiac (9-1) and Niagara (4-1) at the Mercyhurst Ice Center.
Niagara freshman Ashley Riggs was tabbed CHA Rookie of the Year along with becoming the first freshman in league history to be voted to the All-CHA First Team.
The Lakers qualified for the 2005 NCAA tournament but lost in triple overtime (5-4) at Harvard in the second longest women’s NCAA game at that time. Clark finished the contest with 78 saves including 18 in the second sudden-death overtime period.
Robert Morris joined the conference for the 2005-06 season replacing Quinnipiac, who joined its men’s team in the ECAC.
Mercyhurst had two ties in the 12-game conference slate (10-0-2), but had an eight-point lead in the standings over second-place Wayne State (6-4-2).
WSU’s Jim Fetter was voted CHA Coach of the Year, while Valerie Chouinard, a freshman at Mercyhurst won both the CHA Player of the Year and CHA Rookie of the Year awards. She completed the trifecta winning the CHA tournament MVP plaque after leading the Lakers to wins over Robert Morris (9-0) and Niagara (6-2) at the Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit.
Chouinard tied for the league scoring title with a pair of WSU rookies – Melissa Boal and Sam Poyton. Each had 19 points in 12 CHA contests. All three newcomers were voted to the All-CHA First Team.
Warrior senior Jessica Snelgrove was selected CHA Student-Athlete of the Year.
The Lakers had to travel to Wisconsin in the first round of the NCAA tournament but lost in double overtime (2-1) to the host Badgers.
In 2006-07, Mercyhurst had another stellar conference record compiling an 11-0-1 record for its fifth consecutive CHA regular-season crown. The Lakers earned another double-double with its fifth tournament title defeating tournament host Robert Morris (5-2) and Wayne State (4-1).
For the second time in league history, a student-athlete won both the CHA Player of the Year award and the Rookie of the Year trophy. Laker newcomer Meghan Agosta recorded a school-record 66 points in the regular-season then was voted tournament MVP after earning seven points in the two contests.
Niagara’s Margot Page and Wayne State’s Jim Fetter shared Coach of the Year honors, while NU’s Allison Rutledge and MC’s Julia Colizza were named co-Student-Athlete of the Year award winners.
When the NCAA selections were announced, Mercyhurst was granted a home game but the Lakers fell 3-2 in overtime to Minnesota-Duluth on a power-play goal.
The sixth season of the CHA (2007-08) saw a first in that Mercyhurst and Wayne State tied for the regular-season title with identical 9-2-1 conference marks with the Warriors receiving the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament based on a 2-1-1 record vs. the Lakers. MC and WSU would meet in the conference championship game with the Lakers coming away with a 2-1 overtime victory.
MC’s Meghan Agosta earned her second consecutive league Player of the Year award, while WSU mentor Jim Fetter not only earned CHA Coach of the Year honors, but also the national AHCA Coach of the Year award. Two other Mercyhurst skaters were honored as Vicki Bendus was selected CHA Rookie of the Year, while Stephanie Jones was voted CHA Student-Athlete of the Year.
WSU senior Ashley King was a finalist for both the John Wooden Citizen Cup as well as the Hockey Humanitarian Award.
Two of the top-10 finalists for the 2008 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award were CHA student-athletes in WSU’s Melissa Boal and MC’s Meghan Agosta with Agosta reaching the final three.
The CHA had the top four scorers in the nation in terms of points per game in Boal (2.16), Agosta (1.97), and WSU’s Sam Poyton (1.94) and Lindsay DiPietro (1.88). Agosta led the nation with 40 goals and seven short-handed markers, while DiPietro had an NCAA-best 48 assists.
Mercyhurst advanced to the NCAA tournament while Wayne State finished the year ranked 10th in the nation. The Lakers allowed three goals in less than a nine minute span of the third period as the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs rallied for a 5-4 win.
The 2008-09 campaign will be remembered for many new achievements. With the addition of Syracuse University, the league schedule increased to 16 games (four each against the other four member schools) and the conference tournament expanded to three days for the first time in league history.
Player of the Year Meghan Agosta led the NCAA in points per game (2.44/78 in 32 games), goals per game (1.28/41 in 32 games), assists per game (1.16/37 in 32 games) and game-winning goals (10), while finishing second nationally with 14 power-play goals. WSU blueliner Natalie Payne tied for the NCAA lead in points per game by a defenseman with 32 points in 32 contests.
Mercyhurst College, one of the founding members of the CHA, advanced to the NCAA national championship game after claiming both the CHA regular-season and tournament titles. The Lakers went 16-0-0 in league play then defeated Niagara (8-2) and Wayne State (6-1) in the conference tournament in Erie. In the NCAA quarterfinals, MC skated past St. Lawrence 3-1.
At the national semifinals in Boston, the Lakers rallied from a 1-0 deficit to Minnesota, by scoring five consecutive goals then held on for 5-4 triumph over the Golden Gophers to become the first CHA member to reach the national title game. Despite out-shooting Wisconsin 37-32 in the national championship, the Lakers suffered a 5-0 setback.
Some things stayed the same, and some new things took place in the eighth year (2009-10) of the CHA. Mercyhurst won both the CHA regular-season title, with a 14-1-1 record, as well as the CHA tournament title, with victories over Robert Morris (7-1) and Syracuse (3-1). After defeating Boston University 4-1 in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, the Lakers fell 3-2 in overtime in a national semifinal game against Cornell.
The Orange not only won their first CHA tournament contest, head coach Paul Flanagan and freshman Isabel Menard won conference of-the-Year awards. Flanagan was named CHA Coach of the Year, while Menard, who finished second nationally in points per game by a rookie (1.06) was voted CHA Freshman of the Year.
First-year Niagara head coach Chris MacKenzie led his squad to the only setback for Mercyhurst as the Purple Eagles posted a 2-1 win behind 44 saves from Jenni Bauer in Erie on January 30th.
Wayne State senior Christine Jefferson was voted the CHA Senior Student-Athlete of the Year for combining academic and athletic excellence.
Former Robert Morris netminder Brianne McLaughlin appeared in one game for Team USA at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, while two current student-athletes also participated in the Winter Olympic games. Syracuse forward Stefanie Marty took a couple of weeks off from school to play for her native Switzerland, while Mercyhurst forward Meghan Agosta will return from her season with the Canadian National Team for her senior year with the Lakers in 2010-11
Despite not having Agosta, the Laker trio of Jesse Scanzano, Vicki Bendus and Bailey Bram were a force to be reckoned with as they finished 1-2-3 nationally in points per game. Scanzano led the NCAA with 45 assists, while Bram was second in power-play goals (13) and third in both goals (29) and game-winning goals (9). Meanwhile, Bendus was voted CHA Player of the Year and subsequently was selected as the 2010 Patty Kazmaier Award recipient. Bendus also earned CoSIDA Academic All-America accolades.
The ninth season of the College Hockey America (CHA) (2010-11) saw Mercyhurst complete a 16-0 regular-season, on its way to another regular-season title. The Lakers played the No. 3 seed and host of the 2011 CHA tournament Syracuse, in a rematch of the 2010 championship game, once again Mercyhurst came out on top with a 5-4 victory behind Tournament MVP Meghan Agosta’s hat trick.
Mercyhurst’s Meghan Agosta finished off her stellar career with her fourth CHA League Player of the Year award. Mercyhurst head coach Mike Sisti earned CHA Coach of the Year Honors and goalie Ashley Harper earned CHA Student-Athlete of the Year. Robert Morris forward Thea Imbrogno was selected CHA Rookie of the Year.
Two of the top-10 finalist for the 2011 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award came from Mercyhurst’s, student-athletes Vicki Bendus and Meghan Agosta, who became a top-three finalist for the fourth time in her collegiate career.
Agosta also lead the nation in points per game (2.53) and total assists (48) and third in total goals (38) in 34 games.
Robert Morris senior Whitney Pappas was a finalist for the Hockey Humanitarian Award. The Hockey Humanitarian Award is awarded annually to college hockey's finest citizen and seeks to recognize college hockey players at all levels who give back to their communities in the true humanitarian spirit. The award seeks "not to celebrate Hall of Fame athletes, but rather Hall of Fame human beings."
Mercyhurst advanced to the NCAA tournament as the six-seed and traveled to Boston, MA to take on the third-seed Boston University. Meghan Agosta’s two goals were not enough to lift the Laker’s as they fell 4-2 after the Terrier’s scored the game winner 9:06 into the third period.
Mercyhurst was the first CHA member to host the NCAA Women's Frozen Four at Erie (Pa.) Civic Center.
Wayne State dropped women’s hockey following the 2010-11 season to leave CHA with four members.
The tenth season of the College Hockey America (CHA) (2011-12) saw Mercyhurst complete a 8-1-3 regular-season, to capture its tenth straight regular-season title. The 2012 CHA Championship was hosted by the number two seed Robert Morris who won their first-ever league title shocking the top seeded Lakers 3-2, behind Tournament MVP, goaltender Kristen DiCiocco with a career-high 45 saves.
Mercyhurst’s Kelley Steadman took home the Player of the Year award. Robert Morris head coach Paul Colontino earned CHA Coach of the Year honors and forward Rebecca Vint was selected CHA Rookie of the Year. CHA Student-Athlete of the year
Mercyhurst’s forward Bailey Bram was a top-10 finalist for the 2012 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award. Bram finished second in the nation in points per game (2.12) and first in power play goals with 12 in 32 games.
Mercyhurst advanced to the NCAA tournament for the eighth straight year as the eight-seed and traveled to Madison, Wis. to take on the top-seed Wisconsin. The Laker’s came up short and lost 3-1 with Kelley Steadman scoring the lone goal for Mercyhurst. The Badger’s scored the game winner 8:42 into the third period.
2011-12 was a big expansion year for CHA with the announcement of Lindenwood, Penn State and RIT all joining the conference for the 2012-13.
Niagara dropped women’s hockey following the 2011-12 season to leave CHA with six members.