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HAMDEN, Conn. – For the second consecutive season the Mercyhurst University women's hockey team is competing in the NCAA Frozen Four hosted by Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn.
Ranked seventh in the USCHO.com poll, the seventh seed Mercyhurst Lakers compete against the third-seeded Clarkson University on Friday, March 21 with an 8:00 p.m. scheduled faceoff at the TD Bank Sports Center. With a victory, the Lakers would advance to their second-ever championship game in program history and compete against the winner of Wisconsin/Minnesota.
At the press conference on Thursday afternoon, head coach Michael Sisti stated, "The team seems calmer, probably balancing their energy better." When asked about the difference of the squads from this year to last year's team who lost 4-1 loss against Boston University. "When we put on that jersey, we owe it to all the great players that played before us and I hope that we play with the pride and the heart of our program," said Coach Sisti.
The NCAA and the Hamden Local Operating Committee will host "Red Carpet Arrivals" near the main entrance of the TD Bank Sports Center for each of the four teams as they enter the arena on game night. Mercyhurst is expected to arrive at the arena at 6:00 p.m. on Friday night for its semifinal game against Clarkson. Fans are encouraged to cheer on the team during its arrival to the TD Bank Sports Center.
This is the first meeting in a postseason contest between the Lakers and the Golden Knights in both programs history. Clarkson have reached their first ever Frozen Four with a 3-1 win over Boston College in the NCAA Quarterfinals while Mercyhurst upset Cornell in back to back season to reach the final four. Mercyhurst leads the overall series of 8-4-4 heading into their first neutral site contest.
The Lakers also lead 3-1-1 in the last five games including a 1-0-1 series earlier on the season. The Lakers shutout the Golden Knights 2-0 after goals from seniors Kaleigh Chippy and Christie Cicero led the team. Senior Amanda Makela stopped a total of 39 shots throughout the weekend after allowing just one goal in game two for a 1-1 tie.
Mercyhurst is 24-8-4 heading into the final weekend of the post season with three seniors looking for the programs first women's ice hockey championship. In their fourth Frozen Four appearance in their sixth years, the Lakers hold the record for the most consecutive at-large bids reaching the NCAA tournament. Mercyhurst advanced to the Frozen Four with a 3-2 win over the Big Red in Ithaca, New York after leading 2-1 heading into the third period.
After leading 2-1 at the start of the third period, the Lakers are 20-0-0 when leading after the first 40:00 minutes of play. The Lakers went 2-for-6 (33%) on their power-play and allowed one power-play against the fifth ranked power-play squad in the nation. This season Mercyhurst is fifth in scoring offense after averaging 3.40 (122) goals per game to their opponents 1.80 goals per game (9th; 65).
Senior Christine Bestland scored her first collegiate goals in an NCAA postseason contest against Cornell and reached her 226 career points with Mercyhurst to become second all-time in points in the program. She leads the team with six points in the NCAA postseason on two goals and four assists in the five games. Of the two goals, one was on the power-play and one was the game-winner against Cornell. Senior Kaleigh Chippy scored her eighth power-play goal of the season to tie for second in the nation in that category. This year Chippy has marked a career high in points (26), goals (17), game-winning goals (6) and power-play goals (7).
Senior Christie Cicero is second on the squad with three points in five games during the NCAA playoffs. Cicero recently reached her career 100-point after assisting in the game-winning goal last season. Her only goal was during the 2013 Frozen Four against Boston University, 4-1. SophomoreJenna Dingeldein tallied three points in her three NCAA appearance including an assist against Cornell last weekend.
Clarkson is 29-5-5 throughout their season to push themselves to their first ever NCAA Frozen Four appearance in program history. Heading into the weekend the Golden Knights are first for the top defense in the nation by just allowing 1.05 goals per game. Netminder Erica Howe leads the Clarkson defense with a 1.03 goals against average and tallied 14 shutouts this season. Clarkson, the third seed, is third best in the nation in scoring averaging 3.59 goals per game.
Clarkson has also outscored their opponent 49-12 in the opening period and like Mercyhurst has not lost a game when leading through two periods (27-0-3). The offense of the Golden Knights are led by Jamie Lee Rattray, a top-three finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award, leads the team with 62 points which is second-ranked in the nation and leads the nation in power-play goals (9). Erin Ambrose leads her team on the back line and in the nation with a 1.35 points per game average with 50 points as a sophomore.