2015-16 Team-by-Team Previews: Penn State Nittany Lions

2015-16 Roster | 2015-16 Schedule

Head Coach: Josh Brandwene (4th Season)
2015-16 Captains: Jordan Pardoski (C), Shannon Yoxheimer (C), Laura Bowman (A), Sarah Wilkie (A)

2014-15 Season Recap

Record: 17-16-4 (9-9-2 CHA/3rd place)
College Hockey America Postseason: Conference semifinals; advanced to semifinal game with quarterfinal series win vs. Lindenwood, eliminated by Syracuse in the CHA semifinals

The Nittany Lions started off the 2014-15 season with two games in Minneapolis, Minn., and came away with a win over St. Cloud State after falling to the host Gophers. They then had a winless weekend against Quinnipiac and an unbeaten series against Union, and split with Princeton before beginning conference play against Syracuse. After losing to and tying the Orange, Penn State earned its first sweep of the season against nonconference foe Colgate.

In their next series against RIT, the Nittany Lions picked up their first conference win of the season, beating the Tigers 3-2 in overtime after falling to them the day before. Splits with Lindenwood and Robert Morris followed suit, and Penn State then earned perhaps its biggest results in program history to date, sweeping Mercyhurst to close out the 2014 calendar year. A sweep at the hands of Ohio State opened up 2015, but the Nittany Lions continued their strong league play with a sweep over RIT. After a loss to New Hampshire, they went 3-0-1 in their next four, beating the Wildcats, Syracuse, and Lindenwood.

It looked at that point like Penn State had a very good chance to earn a bye into the CHA Tournament semifinals, and potentially take the league crown, but they hit a rough stretch at the end. They lost their last five games of the regular season, including getting swept by Mercyhurst and Robert Morris, and finished third, setting up a quarterfinal series with Lindenwood. The Nittany Lions came away with two wins there, beating Lindenwood 1-0 and 3-1, to move on to the semifinals. Their season ended there, however, as Syracuse knocked them out, 2-0.

Forward Laura Bowman was named to the All-CHA Second Team, while goaltender Hannah Ehresmann and forward Bella Sutton earned spots on the CHA All-Rookie Team. Penn State was also named recipient of the CHA’s Team Sportsmanship Award.

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2015-16 Team-by-Team Previews: Mercyhurst Lakers

2015-16 Roster | 2015-16 Schedule

Head Coach: Michael Sisti (17th Season)
2015-16 Captains: Emily Janiga (C), Hannah Bale (A), J’nai Mahadeo (A)

2014-15 Season Recap

Record: 23-9-3 (14-5-1 CHA/1st place)
College Hockey America Postseason: Conference semifinals; earned a bye to semifinal round with first-place regular-season finish, defeated by RIT in the semifinals

There were plenty of takeaways from the Lakers’ 2014-15 campaign, both good and bad; most expected the team to regress a bit, which they did, but they still maintained their spot atop the College Hockey America standings. They started the season off with a sweep over Providence and a win over Maine, before they tied the Black Bears and split with Northeastern. They then earned back-to-back sweeps, once against Minnesota State in nonconference action and another over CHA opponent Robert Morris. Mercyhurst suffered its first conference loss of the year on Nov. 8 in a series with Syracuse.

They performed well over the rest of the calendar year, going 7-0-1 from that point until a series with Penn State in the middle of December. Things went a little sour then, as the Lakers were swept by the Nittany Lions, and one began to wonder if they were in danger of losing their conference regular season crown. Series with Syracuse and St. Lawrence started off 2015, and Mercyhurst managed a 1-2-1 record in those four games, but picked it up again after that, ending the season on a 6-2-0 run to clinch first place in the CHA once again.

Still, the Lakers were fighting for the season in the postseason anyway, as they were not ranked high enough to earn an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. Winning the CHA Tournament became a must, but the Lakers were bounced for the second straight year by the Tigers, this time in the semifinals. With that, Mercyhurst missed out on a bid into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003-04.

Freshman Kirsten Miller was recognized as one of six CHA Student-Athletes of the Year during the postseason, and Emily Janiga was named the CHA’s Player of the Year. Joining her on the All-CHA First Team was senior defenseman Molly Byrne, who garnered Best Defenseman honors. Senior Amanda Makela was honored with the CHA Goaltending Trophy, and junior Jenna Dingeldein was named to the conference’s Second Team. Forward Sarah Robello earned a spot on the CHA All-Rookie Team.

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2015-16 Team-by-Team Previews: Lindenwood Lions

2015-16 Roster | 2015-16 Schedule

Head Coach: Scott Spencer (2nd Season)
2015-16 Captains: Tae Otte (C), Shara Jasper (A), Brooke Peden (A), Nicole Hensley (A)

2014-15 Season Recap

Record: 10-21-2 (7-11-2 CHA/5th place)
College Hockey America Postseason: Conference quarterfinals; swept by Penn State in the first round of the CHA playoffs

Despite a tough slate of WCHA opponents to start, the Lions didn’t have to wait too long for their first win last season, beating St. Cloud State 5-3 to salvage a split in that series after getting swept by Wisconsin on opening weekend. They dropped to the Bulldogs after that, but then went unbeaten in their first conference series of the year against RIT, tying the Tigers, 1-1, and then beating them, 3-1.

In its next three CHA series, Lindenwood was able to earn the split each time, defeating Robert Morris, Penn State, and Syracuse. The team was swept convincingly by Mercyhurst to close out December, but a big 1-0 win over Bemidji State kicked off January. The Lions dropped their next three, to Bemidji State and to Minnesota State twice, but then came up with a win against the Mavericks on Jan. 10.

They dropped two decisions to Robert Morris next, but again earned splits in league play, this time against Penn State and RIT. Lindenwood was able to tie Syracuse, 4-4, before falling to the Orange, and in their final regular-season series, the Lions put away Mercyhurst, earning a 3-1 win on senior weekend to work a split with the Lakers. They weren’t able to force any extra games in the postseason, though, falling to the Nittany Lions by scores of 1-0 and 3-1 in their quarterfinal series.

Goaltender Nicole Hensley was honored with a spot on the All-CHA First Team after an outstanding individual performance on the season, and she was also named a Second Team Academic All-American after the season. 17 Lindenwood players, including Hensley, made their way onto the College Hockey America All-Academic Team at the close of the year, and Hensley and Lyndsay Kirkham were recognized as CHA Student-Athletes of the Year.

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2015-16 Team-by-Team Previews: Robert Morris Colonials

2015-16 Roster | 2015-16 Schedule

Head Coach: Paul Colontino (5th Season)
2015-16 Captains: Unannounced

2014-15 Season Recap

Record: 11-19-5 (8-8-4 CHA/4th place)
College Hockey America Postseason: Conference quarterfinals; swept by RIT in the first round of the CHA playoffs

After fighting for first place in the league the season prior, the Colonials faced a bit of a drop-off in 2014-15. They started off the year with three straight losses, two to Bemidji State and one to Maine, and had to settle for splits against Maine, Colgate, and St. Lawrence. They didn’t go unbeaten in a series until Oct. 24-25, when they beat Northeastern and then tied the Huskies the next day. Robert Morris was then swept in its first College Hockey America series, against Mercyhurst.

The team split a pair of overtime wins with Lindenwood the following weekend, and then played to draws twice against Syracuse. After winning one of its games against Penn State in the first series of the season against the Nittany Lions, Robert Morris stood at 2-4-2 in CHA competition through Dec. 6, not quite the start the squad was hoping for in league play. Later in January, they found a bit more solid footing and swept Lindenwood, earning a big 7-1 win in the second game, but that was after two losses to Quinnipiac and a split with RIT. Heading into a big match-up with Mercyhurst, the Colonials snagged one game against the Lakers after losing in overtime the previous night.

The next weekend, Robert Morris fell twice to Syracuse, mustering up just two goals in the series. A pair of 2-2 ties with RIT followed, and the Colonials then ended the regular season on a high note, sweeping Penn State with a pair of 4-1 wins on the road. That high was short-lived, however, as they welcomed the Tigers to town for the first round of the playoffs and ended up on the losing side in both games to the eventual CHA champions.

Senior forward Rebecca Vint and sophomore defender Mikaela Lowater both garnered All-CHA Second Team accolades after the season. Senior Katelyn Scott became the first-ever four-time recipient of the CHA Student-Athlete of the Year Award, and 21 Colonials made the cut for the CHA All-Academic Team.

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2015-16 Team-by-Team Previews: Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers

2015-16 Roster | 2015-16 Schedule

Head Coach: Scott McDonald (10th Season)
2015-16 Captains: Taylor Thurston (C), Jess Paton (C), Carly Payerl (A), Cassie Clayton (A)

2014-15 Season Recap

Record: 15-19-5 (5-12-3 CHA/6th place)
College Hockey America Postseason: Conference champions; advanced to semifinals with quarterfinal series win vs. Robert Morris, defeated Mercyhurst in semifinals, defeated Syracuse in championship game
NCAA Tournament: Eliminated by Minnesota in quarterfinals

Just a season after surprising everyone with an upset over Mercyhurst to capture the College Hockey America title, RIT repeated the feat, claiming back-to-back championships and earning a spot in the NCAA Tournament this time around. But things didn’t look nearly so good for the Tigers for the bulk of last season; in fact, they ended the regular season in the basement of the league standings.

They did pretty well right off the bat, picking up sweeps over Union and Brown, a split against Vermont, and a tie against Northeastern in their first eight games. But they started off their conference slate with a tie and a loss to Lindenwood, and continued the winless skid with the same results the next weekend at Princeton. RIT earned its first CHA win against Penn State on Nov. 14 but settled for the series split after an overtime loss the next day. They ended the 2014 calendar year going 1-7-0 in their last eight games, which included sweeps at the hands of Mercyhurst and North Dakota and a loss to Syracuse.

After coming away with just one win in series against Robert Morris and Penn State to start 2015, the Tigers picked up big overtime wins over Syracuse and Lindenwood. They lost their next three, one to the Lions and two more to Mercyhurst, and tied the Colonials twice before ending the regular season with a split in a home-and-home with the Orange. RIT headed into the College Hockey America postseason ranked dead last in the standings and holding a 1-4-2 record since defeating Lindenwood on Jan. 30.

Those numbers quickly proved to be inconsequential as the Tigers swept Robert Morris in the opening round of the CHA playoffs to advance to the semifinals, hosted by the No. 1-seeded Lakers. In the semifinal game, they knocked Mercyhurst out of the tournament for the second straight year, this time with a 4-1 win. In the championship game against Syracuse, Carly Payerl notched the game-winning goal in double overtime as RIT clinched an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. In the NCAA quarterfinal round, Minnesota eliminated the Tigers by a score of 6-2.

When all was said and done, it ended up being a pretty special season for RIT, particularly for the team’s senior class. They ended their collegiate careers with a Division III national championship, two College Hockey America championships, and the first trip to the Division I NCAA Tournament in program history. Forward Lindsay Grigg was named the CHA’s Best Defensive Forward, defender Taylor Thurston took home the league’s Sportsmanship Award, and defender Christa Vuglar was named to the CHA All-Rookie Team. Goaltender Ali Binnington, who was an integral part of the Tigers’ championship run, was named a CoSIDA/Capital One Division I At-Large All-American for the third straight season.

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2015-16 Team-by-Team Previews: Syracuse Orange

2015-16 Roster | 2015-16 Schedule

Head Coach: Paul Flanagan (8th Season)
2015-16 Captains: Nicole Ferrara (C), Nicole Renault (A), Melissa Piacentini (A), Larissa Martyniuk (A)

2014-15 Season Recap

Record: 11-15-10 (8-6-6 CHA/2nd place)
College Hockey America Postseason: Conference runner-ups; earned a bye to the semifinals, advanced to championship game with quarterfinal series win vs. Penn State, defeated by RIT in title game

The Orange had a bit of a rough start to the season, winning their first game against Colgate on Oct. 2 but not picking up their second victory until Oct. 31 against Penn State. They followed that up with a win in a big tilt against Mercyhurst the next series, but won just one of their next four games, all conference match-ups. After a loss to Cornell, they picked up a big few points against RIT with a win over the Tigers in December to close out the first half. Early on in the 2015 calendar year, Syracuse picked up likely its biggest non-conference win of the year, splitting with North Dakota on the road.

A tie against Mercyhurst the following weekend followed suit, but aside from a draw against Penn State, the Orange couldn’t grab a point in its next four games. They did end the regular season on a high note, though, going 4-1-1 in their final six games with a sweep over Robert Morris and wins over Lindenwood and RIT. Their second-place finish in the CHA standings earned them a bye to the semifinals, where they put away Penn State with a 2-0 win. Syracuse fell just short of earning an autobid into the NCAA Tournament, losing the CHA Championship to RIT in double overtime, 2-1.

Despite some inconsistencies and bumps in the road, Syracuse fared pretty well in 2014-15, especially in conference play. The Orange led the league with seven All-CHA selections, including CHA Rookie of the Year Stephanie Grossi and Coach of the Year Paul Flanagan. Forward Melissa Piacentini and defender Nicole Renault were named to the conference’s First Team, while defender Akane Hosoyamada and goaltender Jenn Gilligan found a place on the Second Team. Grossi and fellow freshman forward Alysha Burriss were both selected to the All-CHA Rookie Team.

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CHA Season in Review: Farewell to the Class of 2015

As part of our Season in Review, AES will recognize the careers of several outstanding seniors from around each conference. Here’s a look at seven players from College Hockey America who have contributed an exceptional amount to their programs and to women’s college hockey.

For a look at Hockey East’s Class of 2015, please click here.

Ali Binnington, Goaltender, RIT

1.73 GAA, .937 save percentage, 49-30-9 record in 92 career games

No single player helped smooth over the Tigers’ transition to Division I more so than Binnington. She was a member of RIT’s Division III national championship squad in 2012, and continued to put up stellar numbers once the team made the jump the following season. She shattered the Tigers’ career saves record with 2,292, and also now owns the program shutout record with 19. She ranks third in save percentage for RIT all-time and second all-time in wins. Binnington backstopped the Tigers to consecutive CHA Tournament championships in 2014 and 2015, earning Most Valuable Player honors in both cases and helping the team capture its first NCAA Division I Tournament bid in 2015. As a freshman, Binnington was selected to the ECAC West All-Rookie Team and was also named the CHA’s Goaltender of the Year in 2013-14.

Molly Byrne, Defense, Mercyhurst

20 goals, 97 assists, 117 points in 143 career games

Byrne’s dynamic presence will be missed on the Mercyhurst blue line in the years to come. Her production provided the Lakers with an offensive boost throughout her career, beginning with her freshman season, when she scored at a point-per-game clip en route to winning the league’s Best Defenseman award. She earned a place on both the All-CHA Rookie Team and First Team in 2011-12 as well. Byrne was a four-time All-CHA honoree, collecting Second Team honors in 2012-13 before garnering Best Defenseman accolades once again the following seasons as a junior and senior. In all, she was a three-time All-CHA First Team selection, and finishes her career as one of the most decorated defensemen in program and league history.

Akane Hosoyamada, Defense, Syracuse

10 goals, 51 assists, 61 points in 151 career games

Hosoyamada closes out her career as one of the best defensemen to skate for the Orange. She holds the program record for most career points by a defenseman with 61, which is good enough for eighth all-time in program history. She also finishes as the Orange’s all-time leader in games played with 151, and second in Syracuse history with 51 career assists. Hosoyamada was named to the All-CHA Rookie Team in 2010-11, and after redshirting the following season due to injury, she picked up the league’s Best Defenseman award as a sophomore in 2012-13. She was tabbed to All-CHA Teams twice in her career, once as a First Team selection in 2012-13 and again as a Second Team pick in 2014-15.

Amanda Makela, Goaltender, Mercyhurst

1.72 GAA, .925 save percentage, 52-21-8 record in 84 career games

Makela’s 781 saves in the 2013-14 season are a single-season program record, while she ranks fourth on the Lakers’ all-time list of career saves with 1,683. She is sixth in program history in career goals-against average, and ranks first in career saves per game at 20.03. A three-year starter for Mercyhurst, Makela provided the club with dependable goaltending, and grew into one of the team’s most valuable players by the 2014-15 season, when she was named the CHA’s Goaltender of the Year.

Kolbee McCrea, Forward, RIT

68 goals, 36 assists, 104 points in 122 career games

McCrea spent two seasons at the Division III level and two at Division I with the Tigers, so she was also a part of their national championship team and both CHA Tournament championship squads. She ranks ninth on their career scoring list, and she’s also the ninth player in their history to break the 100-point barrier. McCrea finishes third in program history in goals with 68 and tied for second in power-play goals with 21, and owns the program record for penalty minutes with 230 in her career. She collected All-ECAC West Second Team honors as a sophomore in 2011-12 as she helped RIT capture the national title.

Rebecca Vint, Forward, Robert Morris

73 goals, 61 assists, 134 points in 127 career games

Vint ends her career atop the Colonials’ all-time points list with 134, and first in program history with 73 career goals. Although her production tailed off in her final season, she posted two 40-point seasons at Robert Morris and finishes her career as a point-per-game player. The Colonials have always counted on Vint to produce; she put together two different 12-game point streaks, the longest individual streaks all-time for the program. Her 18 career game-winners double Brianna Delaney’s output, ranking Vint first there as well. She was named the CHA’s Rookie of the Year in 2011-12, and is a four-time All-CHA Team honoree, making the First Team three times and the Second Team once.

Alyssa West, Forward, Lindenwood

26 goals, 42 assists, 68 points in 121 career games

West helped usher the Lions into the program’s Division I era, as her freshman season was their first year as a DI independent school. As part of the first DI graduating class, she was a key player for Lindenwood as it made its transition. She finishes atop the program in points with 68, assists with 42, and power-plays goals with 11. West is also second in career goals with 26 and third in scoring rate at 0.56 points per game. The Lions’ Division I history is short, but West helped write it all to this point, and ends her career as one of the most important players in their start at the NCAA level.