ERIE, Pa. — Today’s rematch between Niagara and Mercyhurst was in many ways like yesterday’s game–lots of Laker goals and rough play from both teams. Yesterday’s game ended with roughing, slashing and body checking penalties and it picked up today right where it left off.
The only glaring difference today was Niagara (9-11-2,2-3-1 CHA) had a short-lived lead when freshman Ashley Riggs scored on a power play just over 6:00 into the game. That only seemed to wake up the Lakers (17-5-2, 7-0-1 CHA), who went on to score five unanswered goals for the 5-1 win.
Hard work at practice has paid off for the Lakers in the form of a seven-game winning streak. They’ve allowed 1.17 goals per game–the lowest average in the nation. Mercyhurst coach Mike Sisti is proud of his players’ hard work and knew sooner or later it would show.
Sisti said, “Any time we play Niagara we get their best. We respect them. I just think our kids are starting to gel. We always work hard but things are now starting to come together.”
After Riggs’ goal the Lakers poured it on. Within the next minute, Quebec native Stefanie Bourbeau stole the puck off a Niagara stick in the corner, circled around in front and wrested it over the shoulder of Niagara net minder Nikki Rudi. Ten minutes later Bourbeau scored again on a give-and-go from senior Teresa Marchese. Mercyhurst outshot the Purple Eagles 15-8 in the period.
The second period was all Mercyhurst. Niagara couldn’t mount any sort of attack against the ubiquitous Laker defense.
“We have done all the little things we wanted to,” said captain Chrissy Yule. “We have worked really hard on our ‘D’ zone coverage. The coaches have told us what the little things were to win and we executed it perfectly.”
Mercyhurst continued the scoring onslaught when Laker sophomore Michelle Bonello scored on the power play at 6:31 of the second period. Three minutes later, Ashley Pendleton stole the puck and fed freshman Stephanie Jones for a breakaway goal right down the middle.
Yule finished the scoring for the day on the power play at 12:20 of the second period. She flipped one into a wide open net after she was left alone on the right side. Mercyhurst outshot the Purple Eagles 22-3 in the decisive second period.
The Lakers’ fourth line got a lot of game experience in the third period like yesterday and held Niagara to five shots on goal.
Niagara coach Margot Page was not down about the performance. She is excited for a possible rematch in the CHA playoffs.
“In the third [period] we came back and battled hard,” Page said. “It was a no-score period which is what we wanted Mercyhurst is a great team and the better team this weekend. We have a lot of work to do to be able to meet them in the CHA playoffs.”
Next weekend the Lakers hope to continue their winning ways as they travel to Colgate. Niagara would like to start its own winning streak at Cornell.