R-E-S-P-E-C-T. It’s what CHA teams are looking for in the world of women’s college hockey.
The league’s top team, Mercyhurst, leads the nation with 10 wins yet is ranked just 10th nationally.
Niagara, coming off a third-place finish at the NCAA Frozen Four last year was unranked to start the season and, despite a 6-2-0 record and a win over No. 7 Brown, the Purple Eagles did not receive a vote in this week’s national poll.
Part of the problem the league faces is that only six of 25 nonconference games have been against ranked opponents, and the CHA is just 1-5-0 in those games. The top five teams in this week’s poll appear on the league’s schedule just 10 times, with No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth not on the schedule and Findlay’s two losses to Minnesota being the only time the Gophers face a CHA member.
Findlay and Wayne State have both lost to Princeton, which received 11 votes this week.
The league has an opportunity to gain a measure of respect this weekend when Mercyhurst hosts No. 6 Wisconsin Saturday and Sunday. The Lakers have played just two games against ranked opponents, dropping 4-1 and 5-2 decisions at current No. 5 St. Lawrence, Oct. 19-20.
Mercyhurst coach Michael Sisti has been happy with his team’s play and has to like his chances against a Wisconsin team that is 1-4-1 in its last six games.
“We ran into a hot goalie one night,” he said of the losses to St. Lawrence. “We didn’t play well in the other (game) but, overall, I’m pleased with where we’re at right now.”
The Lakers and Niagara are the two teams in the best position to make a run at a Frozen Four berth and both have key games in the near future that will impact those chances.
Mercyhurst hosts Princeton following this weekend’s series with the Badgers and also has a Dec. 7 date at Brown and the Lakers’ final game before Christmas is Dec. 14 at Niagara.
Niagara faces Northeastern, which was been ranked or received votes in each poll this year, at home this weekend and has a single game at No. 4 Dartmouth on Nov. 24; a two-game series, Nov. 30-Dec. 1, at No. 9 New Hampshire; and the Dec. 14 match with Mercyhurst on its schedule before Christmas.
“These next games before Christmas are very important,” Sisti said. “(They’re important) to put ourselves in position to do some good things the second half of the season.”
Scheduling is a priority for the league in the future. The CHA’s formation this summer came too late to help league members with their nonconference scheduling.
The CHA men will receive an automatic berth in the NCAA championship this season for the first time. Expansion of the women’s championship will likely mean automatic berths for women’s conferences but, with just four teams and the weakest schedule of the four leagues, the CHA women may not be on the same track as their brethren.
CHA “House”Hold Hints
Findlay’s Heidi Tallqvist scored her fourth power-play goal of the season in Wednesday’s 5-2 win over Wayne State. She leads the nation in that category … The loss for the Warriors marked their first back-to-back losses of the season … Mercyhurst is unbeaten in its last 36 games (35-0-1) when leading after two periods … The Lakers’ last loss when leading after 40 minutes was Nov. 25, 2000, when they allowed four third-period goals in a 4-1 home loss to Maine … After posting shutouts in her first two collegiate starts, Findlay freshman goalie Jessica Moffat allowed four goals on 38 shots in two appearances over the weekend … She stopped all 28 shots she faced through two periods in Sunday’s 3-0 loss to Mercyhurst.
Offensive Player of the Week–Valerie Hall, Sr., F, Niagara
Defensive Player of the Week–Jessica Moffat, Fr., G, Findlay
Rookie of the Week–Danielle Lansing, Fr., D, Mercyhurst
No. 6 Wisconsin at No. 10 Mercyhurst (Saturday-Sunday)
Wisconsin won the only two previous meetings between the teams … They are meeting in Erie, Pa., for the first time … Despite a 5-4-1 overall record and No. 6 national ranking, the Badgers are sixth in the WCHA standings at 1-4-1 … The Badgers have had 16 players record a point this season, including 13 who have scored goals … Wisconsin’s top three goal-scorers are all underclassmen … Like the Badgers, Mercyhurst has 16 players with a point and 13 with a goal … Eight players have recorded a power-play goal and seven players have score game-winning goals … The Lakers have been successful on their last 32 penalty kills … They have not allowed a power-play goal in their last six games … After this weekend, Mercyhurst will have played eight of its 14 games against WCHA opponents.
Connecticut at Findlay (Saturday)
No. 9 Providence at Findlay (Sunday)
Findlay is 1-1-0 versus Connecticut, with each team winning on its home ice, while the Oilers are 0-4-0 against Providence … Senior Heidi Tallqvist’s hat trick Wednesday night gives her nine goals on the season to rank fourth nationally … Four of Connecticut’s 13 goals this season have been unassisted … Providence freshman goalie Jana Bugden stopped all 39 shots she faced in the Friars’ 5-0 and 3-0 wins over Maine … She has started seven consecutive games.
Northeastern at Niagara (Saturday-Sunday)
Northeastern leads the all-time series 5-2-2, including a 2-1-1 record at Niagara … Purple Eagle freshman goalie Breanne Doyle has won her first four collegiate starts, two via shutout … Niagara has had 17 of 19 skaters score points this season, 14 of whom have recorded at least one goal … Northeastern junior goalie Chanda Gunn has stopped 30 or more shots in five of seven appearances this season … She recorded 64 saves on 67 shots in a weekend split with Connecticut to earn her third Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week award this season.