Women's Hockey Adds A Dozen For Upcoming 2012-13 Campaign

By David Leisering • Mercyhurst Director of Athletic Communications • Friday, May 18, 2012

READ MORE: 

ERIE, Pa. – Mercyhurst women's hockey head coach Michael Sisti announced Friday that a dozen players, including three transfers, will continue their playing careers with the Mercyhurst University women's hockey program beginning in the 2012-13 season.

Seniors Kelsey Welch and Jenna Hendrikx, along with junior Kaleigh Chippy, all played with Niagara University last season and will join Mercyhurst for the upcoming year. The Purple Eagles, in a bit of a surprising move, dropped their program following the 2011-12 campaign.

Joining the three transfers from Niagara are nine incoming freshmen – forwards Jaclyn Arbour, Hannah Bale, Jenna Dingeldein, Kathy Donohue, Emily Janiga, and Maggie Rothgery; defensemen Lauren Kilroy and J'nai Mahadeo; and goaltender Julia DiTondo.

“Last season, we only carried 17 skaters and we played every game a player short,” said Sisti, who just finished his 13th season as the Lakers' head coach. “Our staff knew that we needed to bring in a few more players in this recruiting class.”

Despite playing with only 17 skaters last year, Mercyhurst won its 12th consecutive regular season title and made the NCAA tournament for the eighth straight time – an NCAA Division I women's hockey record. The Lakers finished 22-8-3 overall, losing to top-seed Wisconsin, 3-1, in the NCAA quarterfinals.

As with every year, Sisti will have to replace a lot of talent, with six seniors – Bailey BramJess JonesHillary PattendenKelley SteadmanJill Szandzik, and Pamela Zgoda - being lost to graduation and junior Jessica Christofferson not returning for her senior season. The six skaters combined to score 623 points during their careers, and, in Pattenden's case, won an NCAA women's hockey record 100 games in four seasons with the Lakers.

“We will lose six great seniors and Jess (Christofferson) will not play her senior year since she was able to secure an outstanding internship in her major that will run thru late November,” added Sisti.  “This is a fantastic opportunity for Jess and was too good to pass up. As with every year, we lose great players who have helped us build our successful traditions through graduation and then we try to bring in the next generation of great players to hit the ground running and follow in the past players' footsteps.”

That formula has worked for Sisti. In his 13 seasons, he has compiled a 334-92-29 record since being asked to start the Mercyhurst women's hockey program. His 334 wins is tied for third all-time, trailing only Harvard's Katey Stone and former Minnesota coach Laura Halldorson. His .766 winning percentage is second only to Wisconsin's Mark Johnson, who was a long-time player in the NHL and member of the 1980 U.S. Miracle on Ice team.

Chippy, Hendrikx, and Welch all had good careers with Niagara and will be looking to continue their success with Mercyhurst.

Hendrikx (Ottawa, Ontario) was a member of the CHA's All-Rookie Team as a freshman. She recorded 34 goals and 23 assists for 57 points in 93 games with the Purple Eagles. “Jenna is a big strong player who has a great shot and a dependable ability to score goals,” said Sisti. “We are looking forward to her being able to be an offensive threat.”

Chippy (Cleveland, Ohio) played two seasons with Niagara and recorded a career-high 18 points (six goals, 12 assists) as a sophomore last season after scoring just nine points as a freshman. Sisti added, “Kaleigh has been able to score goals at every level and she should be able to thrive in our environment.”

Welch (East Amherst, New York) scored 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) in 29 games with Niagara last season after playing her first two seasons with Syracuse. “Kelsey will bring great speed and work ethic to our team,” said Sisti. “Her experience playing in all situations will be valuable to our young team.”

Mercyhurst is bringing in one goaltender, Julia DiTondo (Kenmore, New York), to compete for time with senior Stephanie Ciampa and sophomore Amanda Makela.

“Julia has been a solid presence in net for Nichols prep and the Buffalo Bisons,” added Sisti. “She is a big quick goaltender who is highly competitive and should fit in well with Stephanie and Amanda in goal.”

On defense, Mahadeo (Airdrie, Alberta) and Kilroy (Cypress, California) will be looked upon for immediate contributions.

Mahadeo played for the prestigious Edge School in Calgary, Alberta. “J'nai is a solid offensive defenseman who likes to rush the puck,” said Sisti of one of his two new blueliners. “We expect her to train hard this summer, so she is well prepared for the speed and challenges of this level and can thrive in her first year.”

Kilroy was an assistant captain for the North American Hockey Academy and she scored 20 goals and added 48 assists in the past two seasons. “Lauren is a confident, well-rounded defenseman who is capable of playing many different styles,” added Sisti. “She should mesh well with our defensive core and should be able to contribute right away.”

Sisti and the Lakers will have six freshmen forwards looking for playing time this upcoming season – Arbour (South Setauket, New York), Bale (Oakville, Ontario), Dingeldein (Toronto, Ontario), Donohue (Rochester, New York), Janiga (East Aurora, New York), and Rothgery (Elyria, Ohio).

Arbour played for the National Sports Academy in Lake Placid, New York. She had 31 goals last season after picking up 56 assists during the 2010-11 season. “Jaclyn is a raw talent that continues to get better all the time,” said Sisti. “As she continues to get stronger, she will be able to become more of a threat every time she takes the ice. She is a good skater who is looking forward to joining our team.”

Bale was a member of Team Ontario's Under-18 roster and played for the Stoney Creek Junior Sabres. “Hannah brings good size and a great work ethic to our forward group,” added Sisti. “She committed to Mercyhurst a long time ago and is focused on helping the program any way she can. She can play all forward positions and should bring some nice excitement.”

Dingeldein played for the Mississauga Jr. Chiefs and led the team, and the league, in scoring with 61 points during the 2010-11 campaign. “Jenna is a big, powerful forward who has a tremendous shot,” Sisti said. “If she can continue to increase her overall fitness, she could be a dominating player at this level. We are excited to see how she makes the adjustment to Division I hockey.”

Donohue played for the North American Hockey Academy, where she finished with 51 points during her junior year. She also played for the Rochester Edge Under-14 team and scored 91 points during the 2008-09 season. “Kathy is one of seven incoming players within four hours of our campus and is another hard working, two-way player who has a good understanding for the game,” Sisti added. “She is always improving and will add to our depth at forward.”

Janiga played for Nichols School and for the Burlington Barracuda. She was the PWHL scoring leader in 2011-12 and was the MVP of the Chowder Cup. “Emily is a Buffalo girl who went up to Ontario's best league to hone her skills,” noted Sisti. “With hard work, she became among the leading scorers in the league. We think her hard work and her mentally tough characteristics will fit in well with our program.”

Finally, Rothgery played for the Ohio Flames Under-19 team. She was a two-time USA Hockey National Camp invitee and in four years with the Flames, she scored 175 goals and 210 assists for 385 points. She had 104 points during the 2011-12 season, leading the Tier One Elite League in scoring. “Maggie has been one of the best players for the Ohio flames for a number of years,” Sisti said. “She is an outstanding student who has always been able to put up tons of points each season. We know she works extremely hard on and off the ice, and she should be able to take on many roles with our team.”

The women's hockey team is scheduled to open the season with an exhibition game at the Mercyhurst Ice Center on Saturday, September 22 against the Stoney Creek Sabres.