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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Game Day Skate: Clarkson at Boston University, Bemidji State vs. North Dakota

AES Rankings

  1. Minnesota
  2. Boston College
  3. Wisconsin
  4. Clarkson
  5. North Dakota
  6. Harvard
  7. Bemijdi State
  8. Boston University
  9. Quinnipiac
  10. St. Lawrence

Game Day Highlights

#4 Clarkson at #8 Boston University: Clarkson has been dominant so far this season, but this series against the Terriers will provide them with their first real test. BU suffered a surprising loss to Penn State last weekend, most because their goaltending couldn’t stack up, and it’s likely they’ll face the same issue again here with Shea Tiley in net at the other end. There are several forwards in the BU lineup that Clarkson will need to keep in check, but the Golden Knights themselves have a very efficient offense. With the forward depth that both of these teams have, this should be an entertaining one to watch.

#5 North Dakota vs. #7 Bemidji State: Both teams are off to hot starts to the season; UND is 4-0 for the first time in program history, while Bemidji State swept Minnesota Duluth last weekend for the first time and also comes into the weekend undefeated. They’ll play a home-and-home, with the first game in Bemidji and Saturday’s match-up in Grand Forks. Top players like Amy Menke, Meghan Dufault, Becca Kohler, and Halli Krzyzaniak have pushed UND to victory so far, and they’ll be relying on that same top talent to break through again here. The Beavers likely won’t be so content to let UND control all of the play this weekend, but we’ll see how much success they can have pushing things themselves. BSU goaltender Brittni Mowat comes into the series on a roll, having given up just one goal on her last 98 shots faced and owning a .976 save percentage overall.

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2015-16 Team-by-Team Previews: Minnesota Gophers

2015-16 Roster | 2015-16 Schedule

Head Coach: Brad Frost (9th Season)
2015-16 Captains: Hannah Brandt (C), Lee Stecklein (A)

2014-15 Season Recap

Record: 34-3-4 (22-2-4-2 WCHA/1st place)
WCHA Postseason: Conference semifinals; advanced to WCHA Final Face-Off with sweep over Minnesota State in the quarterfinals, lost to Bemidji State in the semifinals
NCAA Tournament: Advanced to Frozen Four with win vs. RIT in the quarterfinals, defeated Wisconsin in national semifinals, defeated Harvard to win 2015 national championship

The Gophers hung yet another banner after the 2014-15 season, and did so in pretty dominant fashion, posting their fourth-straight 30-win season. They started off the season playing host to Penn State and Boston University on opening weekend, and beat both of those teams handily. They then headed to Duluth for a series against the Bulldogs and though they came away with the win in game one, Minnesota Duluth earned the win in the shootout in game two. That set up a big road series with Wisconsin, and Minnesota kept up its winning ways against the Badgers, sweeping that weekend. The team returned home and earned another conference sweep against North Dakota the week after.

Over Halloween weekend, Minnesota welcomed Bemidji State to town, and that series did not go in the Gophers’ favor, as the Beavers took five out of six points from them. Minnesota responded well, however, going on a 12-game winning streak and a 19-game unbeaten streak. Their two ties over that stretch came against Wisconsin and Ohio State, but otherwise the Gophers most notably swept the Buckeyes, as well as Princeton and St. Lawrence in non-conference action, and earned another win over the Badgers.

Both of those streaks came to an end on Feb. 6, when Minnesota was shut out by North Dakota on the road, but they won out the rest of the regular season. They salvaged a split the next night against UND and then swept Minnesota Duluth and Bemidji State to head into the postseason on a five-game winning streak. After sweeping Minnesota State in the first round of the WCHA playoffs, the Gophers were upset by the Beavers in their WCHA Final Face-Off semifinal game.

They began NCAA Tournament play with a quarterfinal game against RIT and won that decisively, 6-2. They then met the Badgers for the fifth time this season in the Frozen Four semifinals, which they hosted, and skated away with a 3-1 victory to advance to the national championship game vs. Harvard. With a 4-1 win over the Crimson, Minnesota made its return to the top and captured its third national championship in four years.

Hannah Brandt earned Top-3 Patty Kazmaier Award Finalist recognition and along with Rachel Ramsey, received First Team All-America distinction. Dani Cameranesi and Lee Stecklein were named Second Team All-Americans. Brandt was also honored as the WCHA’s Player of the Year and Scoring Champion, and Ramsey, Stecklein, and Cameranesi joined her on the All-WCHA First Team. Ramsey was named the WCHA’s Defensive Player of the Year, and Milica McMillen earned a spot on the conference’s Second Team while Rachael Bona took home All-WCHA Third Team honors. Kelly Pannek and Sydney Baldwin were both named to the league’s All-Rookie Team.

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Game Day Skate: WCHA action begins, Syracuse at Northeastern, Clarkson at Vermont

AES Rankings

  1. Minnesota
  2. Boston College
  3. Wisconsin
  4. Clarkson
  5. North Dakota
  6. Boston University
  7. Harvard
  8. Bemidji State
  9. Quinnipiac
  10. St. Lawrence

Game Day Highlights

Minnesota Duluth at No. 8 Bemidji State: One of the biggest questions coming into the season was whether or not the Beavers would be able to surpass the Bulldogs in the WCHA standings. We’ll get some semblance of an answer to that this weekend, when the clubs square off in their first WCHA competition of the year. Minnesota Duluth had a tough time against Boston College last weekend, but they’ll face a different challenge this weekend in Bemidji, whose defense and goaltending will carry them. The Beavers are coming off of a pretty strong sweep of Vermont, but they’ll have a few more players to look out for in UMD’s lineup this weekend.

Syracuse at Northeastern: Syracuse is coming off of a midweek loss to Clarkson that saw them fairly overmatched at every position, but the Huskies do not house the same depth in their line-up. The Orange will, of course, have a lot to handle with Kendall Coyne driving the Northeastern offense, but the Huskies’ goaltending is still unproven. Two weeks ago they found themselves in the midst of a shootout with St. Lawrence, and though they had control of it almost the entire way thanks to their offense, Syracuse could make it interesting if top players like Stephanie Grossi and Melissa Piacentini can pot some goals for them.

Clarkson at Vermont: There haven’t really been any surprises to the Golden Knights’ start to the season; they put away St. Lawrence in a home-and-home series last week and then Syracuse earlier this week. They should be able to keep things rolling against the Catamounts here, but UVM will be looking to make a statement in nonconference action after getting swept by Bemidji State last weekend. If Vermont is really hoping to steal a game, they’re going to need someone other than Bridget Baker to chip in up front, and Madison Litchfield will have to do her best to handle a busy night in net.

Players to Watch

Hanna Moher, Forward, Bemidji State: Moher had a goal and two assists in last weekend’s series against Vermont, and continued production from her would help bolster the Beavers’ offense.

Sam LaShomb, Defense, North Dakota: The D came up big last week in UND’s series against RPI, scoring and assisting in the first game and adding another tally in game two.

Stephanie Grossi, Forward, Syracuse: Grossi is often capable of providing the Orange with an offensive spark when needed, and she could make a big impact against the Huskies as Syracuse bids for an upset.

2015-16 Team-by-Team Previews: Quinnipiac Bobcats

2015-16 Roster | 2015-16 Schedule

Head Coach: Cassandra Turner (1st Season)
2015-16 Captains: Cydney Roesler (C), Kristen Tamberg (A), Emma Woods (A)

2014-15 Season Recap

Record: 26-9-3 (15-5-2 ECAC/3rd place)
ECAC Postseason: Conference semifinals; advanced to semifinals with quarterfinal series sweep over Princeton, eliminated by Harvard in ECAC semifinals
NCAA Tournament: Lost to Harvard in NCAA quarterfinals

Quinnipiac had an excellent start to the year, going undefeated until a 2-1 loss to Harvard on Dec. 6. Over that unbeaten stretch, the Bobcats were 13-0-3, and earned wins over Cornell, Princeton, and Clarkson twice, and tied St. Lawrence. The loss to the Crimson was a little bit of a sour way to end the year, but they picked it right back up, going on a seven-game win streak to start the 2015 calendar year, which featured wins against Princeton and a sweep over non-conference foe Robert Morris.

Nicole Kosta, Quinnipiac Bobcats (Quinnipiac Athletics)
Nicole Kosta, Quinnipiac Bobcats (Quinnipiac Athletics)

For the remainder of the regular season, however, the Bobcats did not post an above-.500 record, going 4-6-0 in their last 10 games. They beat Dartmouth, Colgate, Clarkson, and Brown, but fell to Boston University, Boston College, Harvard, Cornell, St. Lawrence, and Yale, and scored more than three goals only twice over that stretch. Quinnipiac backed into the postseason on that note, and responded with a big 7-0 victory over Princeton in game one of their ECAC quarterfinal series. They picked up the sweep in game two with a 2-0 win.

The Bobcats were ousted by Harvard in the next round in a 2-1 overtime loss, and met the Crimson again in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals, falling decisively, 5-0. Besides that rout over the Tigers, Quinnipiac’s offense showed little life over the end of the season, and that proved to be a big problem for the team when it counted.

Still, the Bobcats had a lot to be proud of last season. Chelsea Laden set the school and conference records for shutouts with 16 on the season, and earned the Mandi Schwartz Student-Athlete of the Year Award from the ECAC as well as New England Division I All-Star honors. Laden was also named to the All-ECAC Second Team, while forward Nicole Kosta placed on the All-ECAC Third Team, and Taylar Cianfarano was an ECAC All-Rookie Selection.

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2015-16 Game Day Skate: Preseason Rankings; Clarkson vs. St. Lawrence, Minnesota Duluth at Boston College

AES Preseason Rankings

  1. Minnesota
  2. Boston College
  3. Wisconsin
  4. Clarkson
  5. North Dakota
  6. Boston University
  7. Harvard
  8. Bemidji State
  9. Quinnipiac
  10. St. Lawrence

To me, Minnesota, Boston College, and Wisconsin are all in a higher grouping. With the depth they’re returning from last season’s national championship squad, the Gophers get the benefit of the doubt to start. BC has the edge over the Badgers because Wisconsin is losing some key seniors up front, but it should be noted that the Eagles are losing an important part of their D corps in Emily Pfalzer, and the Badgers have one of the most dominant goaltenders in the country in Ann-Renée Desbiens.

Clarkson is just a tick below those three, mostly due to the fact that they weren’t so accomplished last year, but with what they’re bringing back, there is absolutely a greater potential for this team. There’s a bit of a drop off after the Golden Knights, as the teams that follow all have some noteworthy question marks. For North Dakota, it’s the offense, but they have All-American Shelby Amsley-Benzie in net and a very good defensive corps. For Boston University, it’s goaltending, which is what held them back last season; the loss of Marie-Philip Poulin is also huge but I expect the Terriers to still be able to score at a high pace.

Harvard had a great run last season, capturing the ECAC Championship and finishing as national runner-ups, but they’re suffering huge losses on the back end with the graduation of Sarah Edney, Josephine Pucci, and Marissa Gedman, and they don’t have a real superstar forward, at least not yet. Netminder Emerance Maschmeyer will keep them in the hunt for hardware in the ECAC, and Brittni Mowat will try and do the same for her Bemidji State team, who is going to rely on a strong defensive system to try and wear down higher-ranked opponents.

Quinnipiac is a bit of an enigma heading into the season; to start, they’ll have to replace Chelsea Laden in net, and they’ve got to figure out how to play at their best for an entire season. I like the group of forwards they’re bringing back, and I like Cydney Roesler and Taryn Baumgardt on the blue line, but the Bobcats have to answer for a significant downturn in the second half of last season.

The 10th team was as hard to rank as ever; it’s hard not to put Minnesota Duluth here over the Saints. Goaltending could be potentially be a big headache for St. Lawrence, but they’ve got a few difference-makers on defense, and I’m willing to give them the edge here to start the year and see what they can do. I expect the Bulldogs to be fully competitive as well, but they have to show that they can really take it to opponents and drive play.

Game Day Highlights

No. 10 St. Lawrence at No. 4 Clarkson: St. Lawrence shuffled through its goaltenders last week, giving all three a period of play in both games against Northeastern. They fared well enough in the first game, looking like the better team for the last two periods and the overtime in a X-X tie. They did little to slow the Huskies’ offense in game two, however, as Northeastern racked up a total of 9? goals.

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2015-16 Team-by-Team Previews: Boston College Eagles

2015-16 Roster | 2015-16 Schedule

Head Coach: Katie King-Crowley (9th Season)
2015-16 Captains: Alex Carpenter (C), Dana Trivigno (A), Andie Anastos (A)

2014-15 Season Recap

Record: 34-3-2 (20-0-1 WHEA/1st place)
Hockey East Postseason: Conference runner-ups; swept Providence in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs to advance to the semifinals, defeated UConn in the semifinal match-up, lost to Boston University in the Hockey East Tournament championship game
NCAA Tournament: Advanced to Frozen Four with win vs. Clarkson, eliminated by Harvard in national semifinal

With the return of Alex Carpenter from a stint with the U.S. Olympic Team completing quite the all-star line-up, expectations were as high as ever for the Eagles last season. They responded by posting their best record in program history, notching 34 wins, and were largely the national favorite for much of the season. Their offense was on display right away in a big 10-2 win vs. Syracuse to start the season, and though they would tie with St. Lawrence in their next series, they then went on nothing short of a tear, putting together a 23-game win streak that wasn’t snapped until Feb. 10.

Boston College forward Haley Skarupa (BC Athletics Communications)
Boston College forward Haley Skarupa (BC Athletics Communications)

Over that stretch, BC handily took down its opponents; the team won by more than two goals in all but eight of those games. They defeated the likes of Cornell and Harvard, whom they routed, as well as Boston University and Quinnipiac, during that span. Unfortunately, their winning streak was snapped at one of the worst times, as they lost their first game of the season to Harvard in the Beanpot Tournament championship game.

The Eagles picked up right where they left off of after that, winning their next four contests by a combined score of 21-1. In their last game of the regular season, they had to settle for a 2-2 tie against the Terriers, who they faced again four games later in the Hockey East Tournament title game. Boston College’s hopes of a conference championship were dashed as BU skated away with the 4-1 victory. BC, though, was still very much in the running for a national title, and advanced to the Frozen Four after a 5-1 win over Clarkson in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals. They faced Harvard again in the national semifinals, and the dream season officially came to an end as they could not muster up enough offense against the Crimson and fell, 2-1.

Carpenter highlighted many good individual performances for the Eagles in 2014-15. Named the 2015 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner, Carpenter was also tabbed as the Hockey East Player of the Year, the New England Division I Player of the Year, the Hockey East scoring champion, and a First Team All-American. Coach Katie King-Crowley won both Hockey East and New England Division I Coach of the Year, and senior defenseman Emily Pfalzer was named the conference’s Best Defenseman. Joining Carpenter and Pfalzer as a Hockey East First Team All-Star was rookie defender Megan Keller.

Freshman goaltender Katie Burt, junior defender Lexi Bender, and junior forward Haley Skarupa were all recognized as Hockey East Second Team All-Stars. Skarupa, Carpenter, Pfalzer, and Bender were all named New England Division I All-Stars as well. BC had three representatives on the Hockey East All-Rookie team, with Burt, Keller, and forward Tori Sullivan getting recognized there.

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