Three of the final four games of 2013 involving CHA teams will take place this weekend, highlighted by an outdoor contest between RIT and nationally-ranked Clarkson. Mercyhurst and Lindenwood will clash in Missouri in the final conference matchup of the calendar year.
This is the first time a CHA team will play in an outdoor game, and it is just the sixth outdoor game in NCAA Women's Ice Hockey history. The Lakers will look to continue their five-game winning streak against a Lindenwood team that has split their last two CHA matchups with a pair of one-goal victories over Penn State and Syracuse.
No. 6/7 Clarkson at RIT (Frontier Field, Rochester N.Y.)
The Tigers are set to host nationally-ranked Clarkson University on Saturday for the team's first-ever outdoor game at Frontier Field in downtown Rochester as part of the "Frozen Frontier" weekend.
RIT (9-9-1, 4-3-1 CHA) enters the game looking to close out their 2013 slate by reaching the 10-win mark. The Tigers dropped two tough games at league-leading Robert Morris last weekend, 2-1 Friday and 4-2 Saturday, including an empty net goal.
Kourtney Kunichika leads the Tigers offense with 13 points (5G, 8A), and is one goal shy of 50 for her career. Kolbee McCrea leads the team in goals with eight, and is tied for second in points with 11. Marissa Maugeri also has 11 points (4G, 7A), while Erin Zach (3G, 7A) and Morgan Scoyne (1G, 9A) each have 10.
Ali Binnington has been a solid backstop for the Tigers this season, posting an 8-6-1 record with a 2.05 GAA and .933 save percentage, tied for the best in CHA. She will have her work cutout for her against the Golden Knights, who boast the fourth most potent offense in the country, scoring at a clip of 3.47 goals per game.
Clarkson enters Saturday's game with a 13-4-2 (5-2-1 ECAC) mark. Last weekend, the Golden Knights split a series at home against No. 4 North Dakota. Clarkson is outscoring its opponents, 66-21 this season. Jamie Lee Rattray leads the team and is tied for fourth nationally in scoring with 29 points on 14 goals and 15 assists. The Golden Knights have four players with at least 21 points and seven in double figures.
For the Golden Knights, Erica Howe is 13-4-2 in goal with a 1.06 goals against average and .946 save percentage. She leads Division I with seven shutouts and is second in goals against average and third in save percentage.
RIT has the best power play in College Hockey America, and 13th best in the nation, connecting on 17-of-97 (17.5%) of opportunities. Clarkson has the second-best penalty kill in the nation, killing off 74-of-80 (92.5%) of short-handed situations.
RIT fell to Clarkson, 12-1 in the first game of the season, when the Golden Knights were ranked third in the nation. Clarkson is 3-1-1 against CHA teams this season. RIT is 1-6-0 against ranked opponents, including a 1-3 mark to CHA teams in the national rankings.
The game will be broadcast in the greater Rochester area on Time Warner Cable Sports with Gene Battaglia and John DiTullio. The game will be also be available on WITR 89.7 FM and witr.rit.edu. As with all contests, the game can also be viewed from anywhere on AmericaOneSports.com
Mercyhurst at Lindenwood (Lindenwood Ice Arena)
The Mercyhurst Lakers (12-5-2, 5-2-1 CHA) travel to St. Charles this weekend for two games against Lindenwood (2-14-2, 2-5-1 CHA) in the final CHA conference series of 2013. Both teams will be looking to end the first half on a high note, as a four-point weekend for either team would be a welcome way to close out their first half schedule. Two wins for the Lakers would move them to within a game of league-leading Robert Morris, who are inactive until after the new year, while four points for the Lions would move them into a tie for third place in the conference standings.
Mercyhurst enters on a five-game winning streak, including a shutout sweep of Penn State last weekend, 7-0 and 8-0. The Lakers looked like the offense that has lead the conference in scoring every season for more than a decade, with all 18 skaters that dressed last weekend recording at least one point in the series.
The Mercyhurst offense is averaging a league-high 3.26 goals per game, and claims four of the top-six scorers in CHA. Senior captain Christine Bestland is tied for the league lead in points with 28 (10G, 18A), and is tied for eighth in the nation in points per game (1.47). Christie Cicero and Emily Janiga each have eight goals and 11 assists, tying them for third in the conference with 19 points. Shelby Bram is part of a tie for fifth with 18 (5G, 13 A). Three other players have reached double digit scoring for the Lakers, giving them the most players with 10 or more points in College Hockey America.
Bestland also earned a career milestone last weekend, recording the 200th point of her collegiate career with an assist on Saturday. She becomes the fifth player in program history, and 25th in NCAA Women's Ice Hockey history, to achieve that mark. She also carries a five-game scoring streak, spanning the team's current win streak.
Amanda Makela has been sharp in goal for Mercyhurst, with a 10-5-2 record, 1.83 GAA and .933 save percentage for a defense allowing just 1.68 goals per game. She is 3-2-1 in CHA play, with a 2.04 GAA and .930 save percentage and two shutouts. Julia DiTondo has also been good for the Lakers, allowing just two goals in three appearances, including two starts. She earned her the first shutout of her collegiate career last Saturday against Penn State.
Lindenwood is coming off of a split with a tough Syracuse team last weekend. They took the first game on Friday, 2-1 on a last-second goal from Katie Erickson before falling 4-1 Saturday. After a tough non-conference schedule, the Lions have split the last two series and earned at least a point in three of four CHA series so far this season.
Kendra Broad paces the Lions offense with nine points (4G, 5A), while Jocelyn Slattery leads the team in goals with five and is second in scoring with seven points. Twelve different players have recorded at least one point for Lindenwood this season. Among current players, Caitlyn Post and Alyssa West have been the top scorers against Mercyhurst with one goal and one assist apiece.
Nicole Hensley has started every game for Lindenwood, with a 3.47 GAA and .915 save percentage while seeing an average of over 40 shots per game. In CHA games, she carries a 2.37 GAA and .934 save percentage. She stopped 46 shots in the win last Friday, and only allowed just one even-strength goal in the series. In two career games against Merychurst, including one start, she has stopped 66 of 72 shots faced.
The Lakers power play is scored on 16 of 101 opportunities (15.8%), the third best marks in CHA, while Lindenwood has scored nine man-up goals on 82 chances (11.0%). Mercyhurst maintains the second-best penalty kill in the league at 88.8% despite averaging the most penalty minutes per game amongst CHA teams. Lindenwood has killed off 59 of the 80 powerplays they have given up (73.8%).
Mercyhurst is the only team in College Hockey America that Lindenwood has not beaten. They are 0-8-0 against the Lakers all-time. The Lakers are outscoring opponents in all three periods this season, while Lindenwood has scored a majority of it's goals (12 of 20) in the second frame.
This will be the last game action of 2013 for the Lakers, while Lindenwood travels to Minnesota State for a New Years Eve/New Years Day series.