March 21, 2014

#7 Mercyhurst Falls in NCAA Semifinal to #3 Clarkson

Courtesy Mercyhurst Athletic Communications

HAMDEN, Conn. – The seventh-ranked Mercyhurst University women's hockey team fell 5-1 to Clarkson University in the 2014 NCAA semifinal at High Point Solutions Arena Friday night. The Lakers finished their overall season with a record of 24-9-4 while Clarkson advances to the NCAA Championship game with a record of 30-5-5.

It was a different atmosphere at the NCAA semifinal game this season against Clarkson as the Lakers returned 16 players from last year's squad. With the experience the Lakers capitalized as sophomore Jaclyn Arbour buried the puck at the 8:02 mark of the first period to give her team a 1-0 lead.

Junior Shelby Bram gave Arbour the go ahead pass at the blue line where Arbour skated in and took the initial shot. Clarkson goaltender Erica Howe made the initial save with the toe of her skate but Arbour was there for the rebound to score her fifth of the season. Arbour's goal also was the first time the Lakers scored the first goal in any of the Frozen Four contests.

The Lakers trailed in shots 14 to 9 throughout the opening period including killing the first power-play of the contest. During Clarkson first man advantage of the contest, the Lakers held the Golden Knights to just one shot.

"We were very excited after that first goal, but we were pretty disappointed in that period. We knew we had to keep working our systems and keep working hard," stated Bestland during the post game press conference. "Tonight Clarkson did outplay us, but I'm still very proud of our team. No one thought that we were going to make it here to the Frozen Four. I think that tonight they did push us out of our comfort zone but we didn't come and play our game tonight. It's upsetting, no one wants to lose their last game of their career..."

Clarkson tied the game at one after defenseman Renata Fast takes a shot from the point to give her team the offensive rush. Fast took a slap shot from the blue line on the near side where it deflected off of a Mercyhurst defenseman, hit the post and in the back corner of the net.

The Golden Knights scored two more unanswered goals in the second period to take the 3-1 lead over Mercyhurst. Venessa Gagnon tallied the second goal after she hit the post and the puck bounced in behind Mercyhurst goaltender Amanda Makela at the 9:16 mark.

The Golden Knights Christine Lambert continued the momentum at the 16:24 mark of the second after tallying a rebound shot behind the back of Makela. Brittany Styner scored the fourth Clarkson goal at the 6:39 mark of the final period and scored an empty net goal for the 5-1 win.

"I think physically they outworked us and they won more battles. I just think that was the key. They got the pucks and they had more jump tonight," Head Coach Michael Sisti commented. "The biggest thing I told them was that if our season was going to end tonight, it has to end playing to the level of our standards. We have to make sure we have nothing left at the end of the game."

Clarkson outshot the Lakers 35 to 19 throughout the entire contest but were held to just two shots during their power-play. The Lakers killed all three of Clarkson's power-plays and to kill all 16 throughout the entire season. The five goals were the Lakers first time since January that they let more than two goals against. Their streak of 11 games of allowing two goals or less was snapped against the Golden Knights.

Makela stopped 30 shots on net in the loss and allowed four goals throughout three periods of play. She completed her junior season with an overall record of 22-8-4 as the key netminder for the Lakers.

The Lakers lost three seniors due to graduation, Kaliegh Chippy, Christine Bestland and Christie Cicero. All three seniors contributed to the Lakers back to back appearances to the NCAA Frozen Four.

When asked about the three seniors Coach Sisti praised, "First and foremost, we'll miss them as people. We got a few more months with them. Their great character people and certainly they've emerged as great hockey players. I give them credit for leading this team because we were so young and had a lot of holes in our lineup. At times early in the year it looked like we'd never win a game. A lot of the pressure came to them to uphold the standards and teach the young kids the right way to do things and lead by example and they did a great job at that... We will always miss our seniors"