Weekend Preview: Five CHA Teams in Action This Week

Weekend Preview: Five CHA Teams in Action This Week

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The second half of the College Hockey America schedule kicks off Tuesday, with a New Years Eve showdown between Lindenwood and WCHA foe Minnesota State. The teams will play on New Years Eve, and day, for the second straight year.

Four more CHA teams are set for non-conference action this weekend, including two first-ever meetings for young CHA programs. RIT will face in-state opponent Union for the first time in program history, while Penn State faces a familiar foe for the first time in women's ice hockey when the Nittany Lions travel to Columbus to face Ohio State. Syracuse travels to Vermont for two games with the Catamounts, and Robert Morris looks to extend their unbeaten streak against St. Lawrence.


Lindenwood at Minnesota State (All Seasons Arena, Mankato, Minn.)

The Lions (2-16-2, 2-7-1 CHA) travel to Mankato to ring in the New Year with two games against Minnesota State (6-12-0, 3-11-0 WCHA) for the second straight year. Last year the teams met on New Years Eve, and Day, in Wentzville, with the Mavericks taking both games.

Minnesota State also took two games from the Lady Lions earlier this season, winning 7-1 and 3-1 at the Lindenwood Ice Arena. In the first game, the Mavericks score five first-period goals, including three in a span of 30 seconds. In the second game, Minnesota State used a goal in each period to down the Lions. The Mavericks split a series with Mercyhurst in their only other games against CHA teams this season. Lindenwood is 0-8-0 all-time against Minnesota State.

Kendra Broad continues to pace the Lindenwood offense with nine points (4G, 5A), while Jocelyn Slattery leads the team in goals (5) and is second in points (7). Katie Erickson enters the second half riding a four-game scoring streak, with two goals and two assists over the last two series against Syracuse and Mercyhurst. Among active players, Broad and Alyssa West have each scored twice against Minnesota State, including once each in the series earlier this season. Erickson has a team-high three assists against the Mavericks, and Broad has four career points.

Nicole Hensley has started 19-of-20 games this season for Lindenwood, collecting both of the team's wins and posting a 3.50 GAA and .915 save percentage while seeing an average of over 41 shots per contest. In five career games against Mankato, Hensley has made 148 saves and has a .881 save percentage.

In the first series, Lindenwood was one-for-12 on the power play, while the Mavericks were 4-for-seven. On the season, the Lions power play sits at 10.6%, while they have killed off 72.7% of short-handed situations. The Minnesota State power play is operating at 18.5%, ninth-best in the nation, and their penalty kill at 76.2%.

Minnesota State has gone 3-9-0 since their last meeting with Lindenwood. Kathleen Rogan leads the team with nine goals and 14 points. Lauren Barnes has a team-high nine assists and 12 total points. Kari Lundberg (6-7-13) and Nicole Germaine (4-8-12) are also into double-digit scoring for the Mavericks.

Danielle Butters has played the majority of minutes in goal, earning a 5-11 record with a 3.13 GAA and .916 save percentage. Butters has faced the second-most shots in Division I this season. The 580 pucks fired at her are second only to Hensley, who has faced 739.

This series will be the last non-conference games for Lindenwood this season. They are 0-9-1 in non-conference games this season, all against members of the WCHA. After this weekend, Lindenwood will be off until Jan. 24-25 when the team travels to Rochester for two games against RIT, which starts a five-week run through College Hockey America opponents.


Penn State at Ohio State (OSU Ice Rink, Columbus, OH)

The 3-14-2 (1-9-0 CHA) Nittany Lions kick off their second half with a trip to Columbus to face Ohio State (5-11-2, 2-10-2 WCHA). It will be the first-ever meeting in women's hockey between the rival schools. Both teams are looking to rebound after being swept by high-flying offenses in their last outings. Penn State lost twice to Mercyhurst, 7-0 and 8-0, in their last series, while the Buckeyes dropped two games to No. 1/1 Minnesota, 9-2 and 5-1.

Shannon Yoxheimer leads the Nittany Lions in scoring with 11 points (5G, 6A), while Taylor Gross leads the team with six goals, and has the second-most points with 10. The offense has received contributions from 17 different players, and 60 of 74 total points have come from freshmen and sophomores.

Nicole Pannicia and Celine Whitlinger have split time in net for Penn State. Pannicia is 0-8-2 with a 4.20 GAA and .905 save percentage, while Whitlinger has posted a 3-6-0 record with a 3.46 goals-against and .915 save percentage.

The Ohio State offense is led by twin sisters Sara and Kari Schmitt. Sara leads the team with 14 points (4G, 10A), while Kari is tied for second with 12 (4G, 8A). Ally Tarr also has 12 points on two goals and 10 assists.

The Buckeyes also rely on a goaltending tandem, with seniors Chelsea Knapp and Lisa Steffes splitting time almost evenly. Knapp is 2-6-1 in 10 starts, with a 3.75 GAA and .877 save percentage. Steffes clocks in at 3-5-1 with a 2.01 GAA, .933 save percentage and one shutout.

The Penn State power play has cashed in on 9-of-72 chances (12.5%) and the Nittany Lions have killed off 48-of-67 (71.6%) of their opponent's opportunities. The Ohio State power play has connected on 12-of-78 (15.4%) extra-man opportunities. The Buckeyes have killed off 61-of-74 (82.4%) of their short-handed situations.

Penn State is 2-5-2 in non-conference games this season, while the Buckeyes are 3-1. Ohio State is 1-2 against CHA schools this season, winning 4-3 in overtime against Mercyhurst, and losing twice at the hands of league-leading Robert Morris. After this weekend, Penn State will have just three non-conference games remaining, two next weekend against Colgate, and a late January game at Princeton.


RIT at Union (Messa Rink, Schenectady, N.Y.)

The Tigers (9-10-1, 4-3-1 CHA) travel to Schenectady this weekend to clash with in-state foe Union (6-12-0, 2-6-0 ECAC). This will be the first meeting between the two schools.

RIT enters the second half looking to right the ship after dropping their last three, a pair of defeats at league-leading Robert Morris, and a loss to No. 6 Clarkson in a snowy outdoor game at Frontier Field in Rochester on December 14. Union has also been off since the 14th, when they dropped the second game of a weekend series against Maine, 6-3, after winning the first game 2-0.

Kolbee McCrea and Kourtney Kunichika are tied for the team lead in points with 13. McCrea now has 10 goals on the season after scoring both RIT goals against Clarkson, while Kunichika has five goals and eight assists, and is just one goal shy of 50 for her career. Marissa Magueri (4G, 8A) and Erin Zach (3G, 9A) are tied for second on the team with 12 points.

The RIT offense is producing an average of 2.20 goals per game, while allowing an average of 3.00 goals to opponents. Ali Binnington has started 16 of 20 contests this season, posting an 8-7-1 record with a 2.31 GAA and .927 save percentage along with three shutouts.

Alex Tancrell-Fontaine facilitates the Union offense with 12 assists, and has a team-high 13 points. Stefanie Thomson and Courtney Turner each have five goals and seven assists, good for second on the team in scoring. Maddy Norton also has 12 points (2G, 10A) and Kathryn Tomaselli has a team-high eight goals. The Union offense is averaging 2.06 goals per game, while as a team they allow 3.33 goals per contest.

Shenae Lundberg has started all 18 games for the Dutchwomen, with a 3.23 GAA, .889 save percentage and two shutouts.

The RIT power play checks in a 17.2%, with the Tigers scoring 17 goals with the man advantage on 99 opportunities. The Union power play ranks fourth in the nation, scoring on 17-of-75 chances (22.7%). The Tigers have killed off 83.3% of opponent's power plays this season, while the Union penalty kill sits at 70.8%.

This series will be the last non-conference action for RIT this season. After this weekend they face six CHA series to close out the year, bookended by a pair of home-and-home matchups with Syracuse.


Syracuse at Vermont (Gutterson Fieldhouse, Burlington, VT)

The Orange (8-8-2, 3-3-2 CHA) resume play this weekend with a Saturday/Sunday series against 8-7-4 (4-3-1 Hockey East) Vermont.

Syracuse is coming off of a split with Lindenwood in their final pre-holiday series, while the Catamounts tied twice with Colgate before closing out the first half with a 1-0 victory over Dartmouth. Vermont is 1-4-1 against CHA teams this season, but has just one loss in its last nine outings (5-1-3).

The Orange offense is scoring an average of 2.44 goals per game, and six players are now in double-digit scoring, including four tied with 12 – Nicole Ferrara (7G, 5A), Jessica Sibley (7, 5), Caitlin Roach (9, 3) and Nicole Renault (2, 10). Margot Scharfe (6, 5) and Melissa Piacentini (4, 7) each have 11.

The Syracuse defense is allowing 2.22 goals per contest. Kallie Billadeau has played the lion's share of minutes in net, posting a 4-7-2 record with a 2.12 GAA and .933 save percentage in 13 starts. Jenesica Drinkwater has also proved capable, going 4-1-0 in five starts with a 1.80 GAA and .921 save percentage.

The Catamount attack is led by juniors Amanda Pelkey and Brittany Zuback. Pelkey has a team-high 13 goals and 22 points, while Zuback has a team-high 13 assists and 20 points. The offense is scoring 2.63 goals per game, while as a team the Catamounts are allowing 2.84 goals per game to opponents.

Roxanne Doubille has played a majority of the minutes in goal, going 5-4-3 in 13 starts with two shutouts, a 2.14 GAA and a .918 save percentage. Freshman Madison Litchfield has also started six games, going 3-3-1 with a 3.76 GAA and .862 save percentage in eight appearances.

The Syracuse power play has connected on 18-of-106 (17.0%) opportunities, while the Vermont power play is clicking at a rate of 17.6% (15 of 85). The Orange has killed off 86.7% of opponents' power play chances, while the Catamounts have killed off 85.1%.

After this weekend, the Orange will play one game at RIT next weekend, a midweek game against Colgate, and a second game against RIT the following Friday.


St. Lawrence at Robert Morris (84 Lumber Arena, Moon Township, PA)

The league-leading Robert Morris Colonials (16-3-1, 8-1-1 CHA) kick off their second half schedule with two games against St. Lawrence (6-9-1, 5-2-1 Hockey East).

The Colonials closed out the first half on a nine-game winning streak, tied for the second-longest active streak in the nation. They are winners in their last five outings, and closed out 2013 by spending four straight weeks in the 10th spot in both national polls. The Colonials cracked the rankings for the first time in program history in the final week of November.

The Saints have been inactive since November 27th, when they lost their second straight game to Mercyhurst in a Thanksgiving week showdown, their only other games of the season against a CHA team. St. Lawrence holds the edge in the all-time series, 4-0, but the teams have not met since October 2009.

The Robert Morris offense is scoring 2.85 goals per game, led by 28 points from freshman Brittany Howard (12G, 16A). Howard's 28 points rank seventh in the nation, and her 1.47 points-per-game ranks ninth among all Division I players. She leads the nation in game-winning goals (5) and leads all rookies in points and points per game. Rebecca Vint is second on the team in scoring with nine goals and nine assists, while Kristen Richards has five goals and 12 assists.

Jessica Dodds has emerged as a top goaltender for the Colonials, posting a 13-0-1 record, giving her the best winning percentage and third-most wins in the nation amongst qualified goaltenders. She also ranks in the top-10 nationally in goals against average (1.49) and shutouts (3), while her .932 save percentage is tied for 11th in Division I. Courtney Vinet has also been solid in net for Robert Morris, going 3-3 with a 2.00 GAA and .923 save percentage with one shutout this season. As a team, the Colonials are allowing just 1.65 goals per game.

St. Lawrence is scoring an average of 2.62 goals per game, led by Mel Desrochers' 19 points. Her 13 assists are a team-high, while the six goals are tied for the team lead with Rylee Smith (6-9-15) and Brooke Webster (6-7-13). In all, seven Saints have reached at least 10 points so far this season.

In goal, Carmen MacDonald has started 11 of 16 games for the Saints, recording all six of the team's wins to go with a 2.08 GAA and a .933 save percentage with one shutout. As a team St. Lawrence is allowing 2.50 goals per contest on average.

The matchup to watch will be the Saints power play, which ranks seventh in the nation at 19.1%, against a staunch Robert Morris penalty kill, which comes in at sixth in the nation, killing off 89.7% of opponent's power play chances. Robert Morris has scored just 12 power play goals on 97 chances (12.4%), while St. Lawrence has killed off 51-of-61 (83.6%) of their opponents extra-man chances.

After this weekend, the Colonials will travel to Hamden for a weekend set against nationally-ranked Quinnipiac before running back through their five CHA rivals to close out the season.