December 5, 2013

Weekend Preview: Last Full Weekend Slate for 2013

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Three matchups are on tap for the final full weekend schedule of 2013. The RIT Tigers travel to Pittsburgh this weekend to clash with No. 10/10 Robert Morris in a battle of the conference’s top two teams. RIT is on a 5-2-1 run since the start of November, while Robert Morris is currently on a seven game unbeaten streak.

 

Penn State travels to Erie for two games against perennial power Mercyhurst. The Nittany Lions are unbeaten in their last two games for the second time this season, while Mercyhurst enters as winners in four of their last five, including a sweep of St. Lawrence in their most recent outing.

 

Lindenwood heads to Syracuse looking to finish their first half strong, as they take on the Orange for their final CHA matchup of 2013. Syracuse will look to turn things around after a 5-2 loss to No. 3 Cornell on Tuesday. The Orange have slumped recently, going 1-3-1 since having their five game winning streak snapped in a tie against Mercyhurst on November 15th.  

 

RIT at No. 10/10 Robert Morris (84 Lumber Arena)

The 9-7-1 (4-1-1 CHA) Tigers travel to Pittsburgh this weekend to clash with Robert Morris (14-3-1, 6-1-1 CHA) in a battle of the conference's top two teams.

RIT is on a 5-2-1 run since the start of November. Last weekend the Tigers took home third place honors at the Nutmeg Classic hosted by Quinnipiac University. On Friday, the Tigers fell to No. 8 Quinnipiac, 8-0 and rebounded to defeat Connecticut in overtime on Saturday, 4-3. Erin Zach scored the game-winner in overtime and added two assists. Marissa Maugeri added a goal and two assists and was plus-4 in the win. In their last CHA outing, RIT split a weekend series with Mercyhurst.

Robert Morris moved their unbeaten streak to a season-high seven games with two wins last week. The Colonials first traveled to Ohio State on Tuesday to face a Buckeyes squad that had beaten Mercyhurst and No. 4 North Dakota, and knocked them off, 2-1, thanks to a third period goal from Rebecca Vint. RMU then returned home for a Friday contest against Maine and came away with a 4-2 victory, headlined by a career performance from Brittany Howard. Howard scored all four goals in the win over the Black Bears, setting a career-high for goals in a game.

The Tiger offense is led by Kourtney Kunichika with 12 points (5G, 7A), and Kolbee McCrea with 11 points (8G, 3A). Three other players have reached ten points for RIT-- Zach (3G, 7A), Magueri (4G, 6A) and Morgan Scoyne (1G, 9A).

Robert Morris boasts four the league's top eight scorers, including Howard, whose 25 points (10G, 15A) lead CHA, and tie her for third-most in the nation. She leads the nation in goals, points and assists amongst rookies, and has the most game-winning goals in the country as well. Vint is second on the team with 17 points (9G, 8A) while Thea Imbrogno (6G, 8A) and Kristen Richards (4G, 10A) have 14 each.

Ali Binnington has started 13 games for the Tigers this season, posting an 8-4-1 record with a 1.97 GAA and league-best .933 save percentage. Binnington is also 4-1-1 in conference games with a 1.32 GAA and .953 save percentage. Jetta Rackleff picked up her first collegiate win in her second collegiate start last Saturday against Connecticut, stopping 42 shots.

Jessica Dodds has emerged as one of the top goaltenders in the nation so far this season. The freshman now stands at 11-0-1, giving her the best win percentage in the nation, and putting her in a tie for the third-most wins as well. Her 1.48 GAA, .931 save percentage and three shutouts also rank in the top-10 nationally. In five CHA contests, she has a 4-0-1 record, 1.18 GAA and .949 save percentage. Dodds has started the last four for the Colonials, but Courtney Vinet remains a capable netminder as well, posting a 2.00 GAA, and 9.23 save percentage with a 3-3-0 record. Those numbers improve to a goals-against average of just 1.00, and a .962 save percentage in three CHA starts.

Robert Morris leads the league in scoring offense at 2.83 goals per game, and allows just 1.67 goals per game, also a league best. RIT allows an average of 2.82 goals per contest while scoring 2.29, both fourth amongst CHA teams.

RIT will put their CHA-best power play, connecting on 18.2% of opportunities, against the league's best penalty kill. The Colonials PK unit has killed off 70 of the 78 times they've been short-handed (89.7%). Robert Morris has scored just nine of their league-leading 51 goals on the power play, which clocks in at 10.7%, fifth best in CHA. The Tiger penalty kill is operating at 83.9% for the year, fourth best in the league.

Part of the success for the Colonials has been their fast starts this season. They have scored the first goal in 12 of 18 games, and won all 12 of those. They are 2-3-1 when giving up the first goal. They have oustcored opponents 17-6 in the first, and 21-12 in the second, but are even with their opponents in third period scoring. RIT, on the other hand, has outscored opponents 16-8 in third periods this season.

Saturday was the first time RIT won at the D-I level when allowing at least three goals in a game. The Tigers were 0-15-0 previously in that scenario. RIT is now 1-10-0 all-time against nationally ranked foes. The Colonials currently sit at tenth in both the USCHO.com and USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine polls.

Last season, RIT went 3-0-1 against the Colonials, allowing just four goals in the four contests. RIT has one game left in 2013 after this weekend, when they host nationally ranked Clarkson in an outdoor game at Frontier Field in Rochester. After the series with the Tigers, the Colonials won't be in action again until Jan. 4-5, 2014, when they host St. Lawrence.

 

Penn State at Mercyhurst (Mercyhurst Ice Center)

Penn State (3-12-2, 1-7-0 CHA) is back on the road this weekend to take on the 10-5-2 (3-2-1 CHA) Mercyhurst Lakers.

The Nittany Lions are unbeaten in their last two games for the second time this year, and first since opening the season 1-0-1 against Vermont. They went 1-1 in their last CHA outing against Lindenwood. Mercyhurst enters after a pre-Thanksgiving sweep of St. Lawrence. The Lakers have won four of their last five, with the only loss coming in their most recent CHA series against RIT, which they split 1-1.

Penn State played a lone non-conference game last week with Maine, tying the Black Bears 1-1 at Pegula Ice Arena on Saturday. Shannon Yoxheimer scored her fifth goal of the season, bringing her point total to a team-high 11. Captain Taylor Gross leads the team in goals with six, and is second in points with 10. The team continues to receive contributions from their young players, getting 23 of 30 goals, and 59 of 74 points, from freshman and sophomores.

Mercyhurst is the only team in the league to outscore their opponents in all three periods. They claim four of the top six scorers in CHA, led by Christine Bestland with 23 (7G, 16A). Bestland sits at tenth in the nation in points per game (1.35). Christie Cicero is second on the team in scoring with 15 points (8G, 7A). Cicero's eight goals are a team high, while Bestland's 11 assists lead the league. Emily Janiga (7G, 7A) and Shelby Bram (3G, 11A) are tied for third on the team with 14 points each.

Nicole Paniccia and Celine Whitlinger have split time in net almost down to the minute for Penn State, and share similar numbers. Paniccia has a 3.09 GAA and .919 save percentage, while Whitlinger has 3.01 GAA and .928 save percentage. However, Whitlinger has a 3-5-0 record while Paniccia sits at 0-7-2. Paniccia has found her form recently, despite some tough results. In her last four outings against Syracuse, RIT, Lindenwood and Maine, Paniccia has a goals-against average of 1.74 with 151 saves and a .956 save percentage. In her previous two outings against New Hampshire and Robert Morris, Paniccia had a goals-against average of 5.58 with 61 saves and an .847 save percentage.

Amanda Makela has started 16 of 17 games for the Lakers, posting a 9-5-2 record with a 1.94 GAA (second best in CHA), a .927 save percentage and four shutouts. She is 2-2-1 in conference play, with a 2.51 GAA and .910 save percentage.

The Lakers' third-ranked penalty kill (87.7%) will be tested against Penn State's third-ranked power play (14.8%). Penn State is also the third-most penalized team in the nation. The Mercyhurst power play, which ranks fourth in CHA at 14.4%, will face the fifth-best penalty kill (73.0%).

Mercyhurst averages 2.76 goals per game, while giving up 1.88, both second best in CHA. Penn State is scoring 1.76 goals per contest while allowing 3.12 to opponents, on average.

Mercyhurst is 5-1-1 at home this season, while two of the Nittany Lion's three victories have come on the road. They also swept the season series from Penn State a year ago. Saturday will be the annual "Pink the Rink" event at the Mercyhurst Ice Center.

 

Lindenwood at Syracuse (Tennity Ice Pavilion)

The 1-13-2 (1-4-1 CHA) Lindenwood Lions head to Syracuse this weekend looking to finish their first half strong, as they take on the Orange for their final CHA matchup of 2013. Syracuse will look to turn things around after a 5-2 loss to No. 3 Cornell on Tuesday. The Orange have slumped recently, going 1-3-1 since having their five game winning streak snapped in a tie against Mercyhurst on November 15th.

Syracuse went 0-1-1 in their last CHA series against league-leading Robert Morris, losing 2-1 and tying 1-1 at home. Lindenwood split with Penn State in their last weekend series, taking a 2-1 victory Friday before falling 4-1 in game two Saturday.

Syracuse ranks third in the conference in team offense, registering an average of 2.44 goals per game. Nicole Renault leads the production from the blue line with 12 points (2G, 10A), while three players have reached double digit scoring with 10 points each – Melissa Piacentini (3G, 7A), Nicole Ferrara (6G, 4A) and Jessica Sibley (6G, 4A).

Kendra Broad leads Lindenwood in scoring with eight points (3G, 5A), while Jocely Slattery holds the team-lead in goals with five, and has six points on the season. In just CHA games, Slattery is fifth in the conference with three goals. Freshman Carrie Atkinson has two goals in CHA contests, putting her second among rookies in that category.

Kallie Billadeau has started 12 of 16 games for the Orange, posting a 3-7-2 record, with a 2.24 GAA and a .931 save percentage, among the top-10 in the nation. She is 1-2-2 in conference play. Jenesica Drinkwater is 4-0-0 on the season, with a 1.74 GAA and .924 save percentage.

Nicole Hensley has started every game for Lindenwood and played nearly 93% of the total minutes. She maintains a 3.66 GAA and .909 save percentage while seeing an average of 40 shots per game. In CHA play she has a 2.49 GAA and .922 save percentage through six games.

Syracuse has second best power play (16.7%) and penalty kill (87.8%) in College Hockey America. Their penalty kill also ranks 10th in the nation, despite taking the 12th most penalty minutes per game. In conference play, Lindenwood is tied for second in combined special teams with a 50% mark.

Syracuse holds a 5-1-0 edge in the all-time series, including a 3-1 advantage last season. The lone Lindenwood victory came last season, an overtime win in Syracuse.