When Findlay won the first game in CHA Women’s history two weeks ago, it made people stand up and take notice of the Oilers.
After all, they had never beaten Niagara, the co-favorites to win the conference, a team coming off of a third-place finish at the Women’s Frozen Four.
“That was a real positive for us,” Findlay head coach Adam Brinker said. “We took a thumping from Minnesota but we worked hard and got better.”
Even though the Oilers split that series, they came back to sweep Colgate last weekend and their 3-3-0 start is the first time in four years that they have been at the .500 mark.
Brinker is pleased with his team’s early success and feels confident his team will continue to get better.
“We have more than one player and one line going for us,” he said. “We have the type of team that is going to be in the underdog role so we know we’ll be in some battles.
“I know it’s a cliche, but we’re trying to take things one weekend at a time and get better each week.”
Despite having a young team, a squad which has lost players who left the program before becoming seniors, the Oilers have a good nucleus, led by senior Melissa Oliver, one of just three seniors who have been part of the program during its first four years of existence.
“We’re not even on the same chart,” she said when comparing this year’s squad with those of the past. “The hardest thing was that we didn’t have any seniors to look up to and show us what we needed to do.
“The last two years we’ve added players with a lot of talent and good attitudes. It’s gotten more competitive each year within the team to not only earn a job but to keep your spot.”
Thee of the team’s top four scorers this year are underclassmen and nine of the 12 players who have notched points are freshmen and sophomores. The Oilers also got a 26-save effort from freshman Jessica Moffat, making her collegiate debut, in Saturday’s 5-0 win over Colgate.
“A lot of people have chipped in so far,” Brinker said. “But (sophomore Heidi) Tallqvist has a five-game scoring streak and (sophomore Tanya) Truszkowski got the game-winning goal against Niagara. (Freshman Hilary) Foord and (sophomore Julie) Robert are playing well on defense and we had three players score their first goals against Colgate.”
Oliver wants to be able to lead her team to a successful season during her final campaign but realizes that the team’s goals have to be attainable.
“We all like to say that our goal is to win it all,” she said. “But we really want to put Findlay on the map. Niagara is a more recognizable team and to walk away from there with a win was amazing. I think we caught a lot of people off guard and showed that we’re here to play.
“We’ve struggled a bit in the past but we have great team chemistry this year and everyone is on the same page. We’re looking to have a strong season.”
Findlay goes on the road for three games before returning home for six straight games. With 10 games remaining before Christmas, the Oilers have high hopes of being over .500 heading into the break for the first time since 1999, when they did not play an established program until the second half of the season.
And with those hopes lie the foundation for the future of the Oiler program.
CHA “House”Hold Hints
Findlay sophomore Jenn Jessopp recorded her first career hat trick in Saturday’s 5-0 win over Colgate … Freshman goalie Jessica Moffat made her collegiate debut in the same game and promptly posted a 26-save shutout … Niagara freshman goalie Breanne Doyle also earned her first career shutout Saturday, a 20-save effort in a 2-0 conference win over Wayne State … Mercyhurst senior goalie stopped 31 of 32 shots in posting 3-0 and 2-1 wins over St. Cloud State … Wayne State has played 21 different players in its first three games … Eight players have yet to see action.
Offensive Player of the Week–Jenn Jessopp, So., F, Findlay
Defensive Player of the Week–Tiffany Ribble, Sr., G, Mercyhurst
Rookie of the Week–Amy Jack, Fr., F, Niagara
Niagara at No. 5 Brown (Friday-Saturday)
Brown leads the all-time series 7-1-1 and is 3-0-1 at home against the Purple Eagles … This marks the first matchup of the season between teams that reached the NCAA championship last season … This weekend’s series is Niagara’s first road trip of the season … Freshman Breanne Doyle has won both of her starts in goal for Niagara this year … Sophomore center Teresa Marchese-Del Monte has scored in all four games this season.
No. 10 Mercyhurst at Minnesota State (Saturday-Sunday)
Mercyhurst is 5-0-0 against MSU … The Lakers have allowed just four goals in those five contests … Mercyhurst won both games at Mankato last year by 3-1 counts … Four of the Mavericks eight goals this season have been scored by newcomers … MSU sophomore forward Kristina Koga notched her first career goal in Friday’s 6-2 loss to Bemidji State … Saturday’s win was the Mavericks’ first conference home victory in nearly three years, with their last win coming against the Beavers as well, Nov. 28, 1999 … Mercyhurst is 4-0-0 against WCHA opponents this season … The Lakers have yet to play a CHA games this season, the last team to do so … Mercyhurst’s 6-2-0 start is its best in four seasons.
Findlay at Yale (Saturday)
Findlay at Princeton (Sunday)
Princeton defeated Findlay, 3-0, Jan. 23, 2000, in the teams’ only previous meeting … The Oilers have never played Yale … Freshmen Kelly Ramsey, Hilary Foord, and Nicole Richardson all scored their first collegiate goals during the Oilers’ sweep of Colgate … Findlay senior captain Melissa Oliver is the team’s only player averaging more than a point per game for her career, with 105 points in 103 games … Sophomore Heidi Tallqvist has already scored more than half as many points as she did during her rookie campaign … The Oilers’ leading scorer this year has eight points after tallying 14 last season.
Wayne State at Princeton (Saturday)
Wayne State at Yale (Sunday)
Wayne State has not recorded a win against either opponent, going 0-1-2 in three meetings with Yale while losing its only previous meeting with Princeton … Junior Anna VanderMarliere and sophomore Tina Thibideau have combined to stop 72 of 78 shots in the team’s first three games … The Warriors are 0-for-10 on the power play … Only seven WSU players have recorded points this season and none have multiple points.