1. Parity? Pearity? Parody?: It’s always tough to figure out what to make of non-conference games in a league where NCAA Tournament at-large bids aren’t really a thing (except for Mercyhurst). But here’s one thought: They could indicate an incredible CHA race this season. Consider…
- Union: Lost 1-2 and 0-2 at RIT, lost 1-4 and tied 2-2 vs. Penn State
- Maine: Won 3-2 and lost 0-1 vs. Robert Morris, lost 0-1 and tied 2-2 vs. Mercyhurst
- Northeastern: Tied 1-1 at Syracuse, tied 2-2 at RIT, won 4-0 and lost 2-4 at Mercyhurst
- Colgate: Lost 1-2 at Syracuse, won 6-3 and lost 1-2 at Robert Morris
There are a couple others as well, but you get the idea. The transitive property is a dubious way to compare teams and no two matchups are identical (systems better suited to certain opponents, etc.), but still, there are a pile of results so far involving five CHA teams that don’t indicate a ton of separation. Poor Lindenwood doesn’t get in on the fun due mostly to their geography and the WCHA-heavy non-con it usually produces.
2. Penn Statements: Not a bad haul for the Nittany Lions, both on and off the ice, this week: They enjoyed a win-tie weekend at Union fueled by depth from three different classes, a third episode of the outstanding series Behind The Lion debuted (below), and both Caitlin Reilly (rookie) and Celine Whitlinger (goalie) were involved in the CHA’s weekly awards. I’m not quite ready to pull the trigger on PSU as a legitimately good team – remember, they did manage a tightly-contested split with Union last year – but they are improved.
One truly intriguing thing about the squad is that it doesn’t include any seniors, as Josh Brandwene not-so-quietly discarded everyone who would have been one back in the spring (as well as anyone else who has ever looked at him sideways, but that’s a different topic). Essentially, whatever is happening in Hockey Valley has two full years to mature.
3. Fit to be Tied: It’s been a fairly ambiguous start to the season for the league (see above). We know Mercyhurst is pretty good, but that’s based more on “well, it’s Mercyhurst” and the reputation-driven polls (eighth in USCHO this week, if you’re keeping track) than any of their on-ice results to this point. Syracuse has taken the situation to new heights though, with four consecutive home ties over the last two weekends against four different Hockey East opponents (Northeastern, New Hampshire, Providence, Connecticut). Is that a record? Has to be up there. The last one didn’t come easy, with the Orange needing a last-second (literally) deflection home by CHA Player of the Week Jessica Sibley to force OT against UConn.
Ties aren’t wins, of course, but at the same time, Syracuse has certainly demonstrated itself as possibly better than the fourth place preseason slotting it received from most (guilty).
4. A Moment of Levity: Robert Morris has struggled to a 2-6-0 record so far, thanks mostly to heavy turnover (especially on defense), inconsistency and the absences of elite forwards Rebecca Vint and Brittany Howard. The good news is that the Colonials are still enjoying life. Here, assistant coach Logan Bittle calls out Olympic goalie and RMU alumna Brianne McLaughlin (the two are married, for those who don’t know) for making an uninvited appearance in his interview.
— Logan Bittle (@LBittle8) October 15, 2014
5. Tiger Blood: RIT’s Ali Binnington is ridiculous on the ice, but maybe even ridiculouser in the gear department.