ERIE, Pa. — Having dropped out of the top 10 in the USCHO.com poll two weeks ago, Mercyhurst needed a good showing against No. 8 Princeton to regain ground at the national level. The Lakers (7-2-2) responded with a convincing 3-0 victory over Princeton (3-3-1) on Saturday in the first of a two-game series.
Princeton coach Jeff Kampersal knew before the puck was even dropped that to be successful against Mercyhurst his team needed to play a near-flawless game.
Kampersal said, “Coach (Mike) Sisti prepares harder than anyone for a game, and they’re solid from their first line through their third so we have to limit our mistakes and certainly stay out of the penalty box.”
Somebody should have told the referee the game plan because a total of 18 penalties were called before the final buzzer went off. Mercyhurst finished 2-for-7 on the power play and added another special teams goal of the shorthanded variety. Princeton went a woeful 0-for-11.
Mercyhurst sophomore Jill Nugent scored her first goal of the year with a power play goal at 8:32 of the first period. Senior forward Teresa Marchase brought the puck down the left side on a two-on-one and passed it to a wide open Nugent, who slid the puck past the sprawling Tiger goalie Roxanne Gaudiel.
Mercyhurst assistant coach Aaron Kemp was ecstatic after the game about the play of the Lakers’ special teams.
Kemp said, “It was an aspect of the game that we worked on quite a bit at practice this week. We really tried to keep it simple and just get shots through to the net and pounce on any loose pucks. As for the penalty killing, I thought we did a super job. Princeton has a very dangerous power play and we did a good job of getting into the shooting lanes and getting the puck out of our zone.”
While the Tigers were on their third power play of the first period, Laker sophomore Stefanie Bourbeau stole an errant pass in the Tiger end, skated in all alone, waited for Gaudiel to go down and flipped it top shelf to make the score 2-0.
The Lakers finished the scoring with 5:18 to go in the second period when Junior Dani Jo Lansing scored the second power play goal through a pile up in front of the Tiger goal.
The trademark of the Mercyhurst team this year has been its exceptional play on defense, particularly in the third period. Once again, the Lakers limited the Tigers to four shots on goal in the final frame and just eight over the last two periods.
Laker goalie Desi Clark once again didn’t have to make a lot of saves but never-the-less was still excited about her second shutout of the season.
“It feels pretty good I’m not going to lie,” Clark said of the shutout. “Princeton has a pretty good team and I credit my team in front of me.”
As for tomorrow’s rematch, the Lakers don’t expect a let down. Clark expects more of the same play from herself and her teammates on Sunday.
Clark said, “We went out and played hard todaytoday’s game was a huge win. It was a big boost for us and I think tomorrow will be another exciting day.”
Princeton defenseman Dina McCumber is hoping for a different outcome tomorrow. Taking fewer penalties would be a start.
“The penalties disrupted our play today,” she said. “We would get on a roll and then penalties come, and we’re playing on the power kill. Our penalty kill players were playing too much, and we were getting tired. We need to come out flying tomorrow like we did in the first couple minutes of today’s game and hopefully score the first goal.”
Both teams promise to come out playing hard on Sunday and would like to play a little more 5-on-5 hockey.