WEEKEND PREVIEW: PAIR OF CHA TEAMS FACE TOP-TEN OPPONENTS

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CHA WEEKEND PREVIEW

With just two weekends remaining before the start of conference play, all six CHA teams are in action Friday and Saturday against tough opponents. The upstart Robert Morris Colonials and perennial power Mercyhurst Lakers headline the weekend slate with two-game sets against top-10 opponents. Ninth-ranked Mercyhurst travels to Postdam, N.Y. to take on No. 3/3 Clarkson, and Robert Morris, coming off of a sweep of Bemidji State last weekend, hosts No. 7/8 Boston University at 84 Lumber Arena.

RIT welcomes Colgate to Rochester for an unusual home-and-home series, Syracuse travels to Rhode Island to face Providence, and Lindenwood will be in Bemidji to take on the Beavers. In Hockey Valley, Penn State hosts Union College for the inaugural women’s hockey games at the recently opened Pegula Ice Arena.

 

Lindenwood (0-5-1) at Bemidji State (1-2-1)

The Lions begin a four-game road stretch this weekend with a two-game series at Bemidji State. Lindenwood went 0-1-1 against the Beavers to open the season. The Lady Lions lost game one by a 3-2 margin after giving up a late goal. The two teams tied the second game by a 1-1 score. Brooke Peden had three points in the series, and earned CHA co-Player of the Week honors for her performance. All three of Lindenwood’s goals came on the power play. Nicole Hensley had a .940 save percentage in the series and made 63 saves, earning her a CHA Goalie of the Week award. Bemidji State leads the all-time series 2-0-1. Lindenwood lost a pair of games last weekend to Minnesota State by scores of 7-1 and 3-1. Kendra Broad and Alyssa West had Lindenwood’s goals, while Sarah McGall saw her first collegiate action in goal and made 23 of 26 saves in the first game of the series. Kendra Broad leads the team with five points, including one in five of the six games Lindenwood has played this season. Broad is tied for third in the CHA in points and tied for seventh in assists. Broad and Peden are tied for first with two other CHA players with three power-play points, and Jocelyn Slattery is tied for first in the CHA in power-play goals. Peden is third in the CHA in points for a defenseman.

No. 9 Mercyhurst (2-3-0) at No. 3/3 Clarkson (5-0-0)

The nationally-ranked women’s hockey team is on the road this weekend to take on third-ranked Clarkson University. The Lakers hold a lifetime record of 7-4-3 against Clarkson, who are undefeated through five games, including a 3-0 combined record against CHA opponents. The teams split last year’s series in Erie. The Lakers were shutout in game one, but rebounded the next day to take a 4-3 victory from the Golden Knights.  Both contests are set to begin at 3:00 p.m.  Mercyhurst enters with an overall record of 2-3-0 after splitting with Providence College last weekend.  On Saturday, the Lakers used a full-team effort to pull out a 5-0 win over the Friars. In the second period, the Lakers’ special teams struck four times in a span of 9:38 to put the game away.  Senior captain Christine Bestland sparked the offense with both short-handed and power-play goals. CHA co-Goalie of the Week junior Amanda Makela picked up her first shutout of the season, and the fourth of her career, after making 31 saves.  On Sunday, the Lakers fell 3-2 after allowing three straight goals.  Junior Shelby Bram scored in both games, and has contributed six points in five games this season. Bestland’s four-point weekend gives her 181 career points, and earned her CHA Player of the Week honors for the second time this season. She tops the CHA leader board in all scoring categories thus far. Bram is second only to Bestland in overall points, and sophomore Jenna Dingeldein is part of a three-way tie with the Lakers’ captain for goals scored with four. 

Union (2-3-0) at Penn State (1-2-1)

The Nittany Lions welcome Union College (2-3-0) to Hockey Valley this weekend for the inaugural women’s hockey games at Pegula Ice Arena, Penn State’s $90 million state-of-the-art facility. Penn State enters at 0-7-0 against ECAC teams after dropping two contests at Quinnipiac last weekend, 5-1 and 4-0. They are 0-2-0 all-time against Union. The Nittany Lions received fantastic goaltending performances from the tandem of Nicole Paniccia (48 saves) and Celine Whitlinger (55 saves) for the second straight weekend. Last season, Union stole two close games in Schenectady, winning 2-1 and 1-0 in a weekend series in January. The Dutchwomen have dropped three straight contests after starting the season 2-0. A young Nittany Lions squad looks to continue improving each week. They claim four of the top-eight freshman scorers in the CHA, led by Sarah Nielsen, who has been a point-per-game player so far this season. In all, freshmen and sophomores have tallied 18 of 22 of the Nittany Lions’ points this season. After a couple of weekends on the road to open the year, the Nittany Lions are now set for four straight home series, covering eight games and extending into CHA league play. Friday’s game against Union is set for 7 p.m., and game two will get underway at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

No. 7/8 Boston University (1-0-1) at Robert Morris (3-1-0)

The Colonials welcome nationally-ranked Boston University to 84 Lumber Arena Friday and Saturday as part of Robert Morris’ homecoming weekend. The No. 7 Terriers defeated RMU 3-0 early last season. It was the first meeting between the teams since October 2009, which BU also won, 4-3 in Boston. Last weekend, Robert Morris earned their first sweep of the 2013-14 season, taking two games from Bemidji State in the North Star State… CHA Rookie of the Week Brittany Howard tallied three points in the two games against the Beavers and currently leads the Colonials with five points (2G, 3A) on the season, more than any other CHA rookie and good for third in the league overall. The RMU goaltenders had an impressive weekend, allowing just one goal in the two victories. Junior Courtney Vinet stopped 28 of 29 shots in Friday's 2-1 victory, and then freshman Jessica Dodds earned her first career shutout with 22 saves in a 3-0 win on Saturday, earning co-CHA Goalie of the Week honors. Dodds and Vinet are first and second in the CHA in GAA for qualified goaltenders. Dodds also ranks first in save percentage and winning percentage ... The 3-1-0 mark after four games ties a record for the best four game start in school history. The last team to start their campaign 3-1-0 was the 2011-12 Colonials, who ended that season by winning their first CHA championship. 

Colgate (1-3-0) vs. RIT (2-3-0) [home and home]

The Tigers return to action this weekend with a pair of games against Colgate University. On Friday, the two teams will meet at the Bill Gray’s Regional Iceplex, on the Campus of Monroe Community College in Rochester, with Colgate serving as the home team. On Saturday, the two teams will meet at Ritter Arena. Both games get underway at 7 p.m. Large crowds are expected for both games, as the annual “Fire on Ice” girl’s and women’s hockey tournament is in town for the weekend. Colgate won both meetings between the two schools last year, 2-1 in Hamilton, and 3-2 in overtime at Ritter Arena. RIT leads the all-time series between the two schools, 13-4-2. Last weekend, RIT split a weekend series against Vermont to open their home schedule. The Tigers took Friday’s contest 6-0 on the strength of two goals from Kourtney Kunichika and Ali Binnington’s ninth career shutout. The six goals were the most scored against a non-independent D-I team. Jess Paton and Kolbee McRea lead the team with five points each through five games, making them part of a four-way tie for third place in overall CHA scoring. The RIT power-play is operating at 25.0% for the season, best among CHA teams. Both games against Colgate are set for 7 p.m.

Syracuse (1-3-0) at Providence (2-2-0)

Syracuse will travel to Rhode Island this weekend for two games against Providence College. The Friars are 2-2-0 on the season, including a split with fellow CHA member Mercyhurst. The Orange lost both games of a home-and-home series with No. 3 Clarkson last weekend. Syracuse hung with the Golden Knights in Friday night’s game at home in Tennity Ice Pavilion. Although they lost 2-1, goaltender Kallie Billadeau made 39 saves, allowing just two scores in 41 attempts on goal. Nicole Rennault tallied the lone Orange goal of the weekend, her first of the season. SU was unable to net one at Cheel Arena on Saturday night and was shut out by the Golden Knights, 4-0. Billadeau had another 30+ save game, this time making 36 stops on 40 tries on net. Two of Clarkson’s goals came on the power play and one was on an empty net. Billadeau maintains a 2.28 GAA and .936 save percentage, placing her among the league leaders of College Hockey America. Providence is coming off of a weekend series with Mercyhurst, in which they were shutout in game one, but scored three straight goals Saturday to salvage the weekend split. This is the first meeting between the teams since October 2010, when the Friars downed the Orange 4-1 in Syracuse.