#1 Mercyhurst (23-8-3) vs. #5 RIT (13-18-5)
The Tigers swept Robert Morris last week in their best-of-three series to advance to the semifinals. RIT earned a 3-1 win on Saturday, with Mackenzie Stone snapping a 1-1 tie in the second period and Emilee Bulleid posting a goal and an assist. RIT capped off the sweep with a 1-0 win on Saturday, and Ali Binnington recorded 30 saves in the shutout.
Slowing down Mercyhurst’s offense will be a lot tougher; Emily Janiga has 27 goals and 45 points through 34 games and will lead the way up front for the Lakers. Though they lack the scoring depth they’ve enjoyed in past years, they still have several other options up front. Their defensive corps, headed by Molly Byrne, does a good job of controlling play. The Tigers will be tasked with exposing some of the weaknesses throughout Mercyhurst’s line-up, and Binnington is going to have to be good in net. She made 62 saves in RIT’s stunning 2-1 double overtime win over the Lakers last season in the championship game, so there’s no doubt that she can make a big difference.
Key Players for Mercyhurst: F Emily Janiga, F Shelby Bram, D Jillian Skinner
Key Players for RIT: G Ali Binnington, F Kolbee McCrea, D Taylor Thurston
#2 Syracuse (10-14-10) vs. #3 Penn State (17-15-4)
While Syracuse had a bye-week, the Nittany Lions swept Lindenwood to earn their first Division I postseason wins in program history. Shannon Yoxheimer scored the lone goal in the 1-0 win on Friday, and she also had the game-winner in Saturday’s clinching 3-1 victory. Bella Sutton posted two goals and an assist in that game as well.
Besides Mercyhurst, the Orange have the highest scoring offense in the CHA at 2.12 goals per game. The Nittany Lions are right up there with them, averaging exactly two goals per game. Though the teams are pretty even, Syracuse is more efficient when it comes to generating chances for itself and limiting them for opponents. Penn State, however, has a clear edge in goal with Celine Whitlinger, who has a .933 save percentage and 2.17 goals-against average. The Orange rely a lot on their two rookie forwards, Stephanie Grossi and Alysha Burriss, but inexperience could just as easily be a problem for Penn State.
Key Players for Syracuse: F Melissa Piacentini, F Stephanie Grossi, D Nicole Renault
Key Players for Penn State: G Celine Whitlinger, F Amy Petersen, F Shannon Yoxheimer, D Jordin Pardoski