Like practically any coach, when Niagara mentor Margot Page was asked how her team was playing, she replied, “We could be better.”
But by no means is she disappointed in her team’s 7-3-0 start coming off its third-place finish at last year’s NCAA Frozen Four.
“We just need to be more consistent,” Page said. “It’s the little things right now and we need to tighten up a little defensively.”
After facing just one ranked opponent in its first 10 games, a two-game series against No. 6 Brown in which the Purple Eagles earned a split, Niagara is facing a four-game stretch in which it will face No. 4 Dartmouth and No. 8 New Hampshire, the latter in a two-game series on the road.
— Niagara coach Margot Page, who lost stalwart Tania Pinelli in net after last season.
Although Page feels her team could be playing better defensively, and that it will need to be sound in its own zone in its next four games to be successful, she’s been pleased with the play of junior Jennifer Mascaro and freshman Breanne Doyle in goal.
After the Eagles lost Tania Pinelli — who had played 124 games in four years — following last season, many thought goaltending would be a weak spot. Page disagreed with that sentiment from the start.
“We knew what we had,” she said. “We were confident Jennifer could step in and play and we knew Breanne was good as well. We’ve been pleased with our goaltending.”
The duo has combined for a 2.30 goals against average and a .918 save percentage, excellent numbers for a tandem which had 353 minutes of collegiate experience entering the season.
Balanced scoring has also been important for Niagara. Seventeen of 19 skaters have scored points this season and seven different players have accounted for the team’s seven game-winning goals.
Where are the Purple Eagles at this season?
Page feels they’re on the right track. With a few adjustments here, and a couple of breaks there, they can get moving along that track over the next two weeks.
Mercyhurst Gets Respect From Pollsters
Despite two home losses over the weekend to No. 7 Wisconsin, Mercyhurst retained its No. 10 position in this week’s USCHO poll.
The 3-2 and 4-2 losses to the Badgers snapped the Lakers’ six-game winning streak, but they have a chance to redeem themselves this weekend with a two-game home series versus Princeton, a team which has been receiving votes in the poll all season.
December matchups with Brown and Niagara, leading into the Christmas break, will be key contests in positioning Mercyhurst for a second-half run towards a conference title and Frozen Four aspirations.
CHA “House”Hold Hints
CHA teams are 17-13-0 against nonleague teams this season … Three of the four teams are .500 or better and Findlay, at 3-5-0, has three nonconference losses to ranked opponents … The Oilers allowed just three goals but lost twice, 2-0 to Connecticut and 1-0 to Providence … Freshman goalie Jessica Moffat gave up just two goals in the two games while stopping 72 shots, including a school-record 52 in the loss to Providence … Mercyhurst senior defenseman Randi Pilger had her streak of 107 consecutive games played ended when she missed the Lakers’ series with Wisconsin due to injury … Teammate C.J. Ireland has played in 109 consecutive games, having played in all of the team’s games during its first four seasons … Wayne State is 0-for-35 on the power play this season and has not scored on its last 40 opportunities, dating back to last season.
Offensive Player of the Week–Heidi Tallqvist, So., F, Findlay
Defensive Player of the Week–Desirae Clark, So., G, Mercyhurst
Rookie of the Week–Samantha Shirley, Fr., F, Mercyhurst
Niagara at Connecticut (Friday)
Niagara at No. 4 Dartmouth (Sunday)
Niagara is 3-0-0 versus Connecticut and 2-5-0 versus Dartmouth … Last season marked the Eagles’ first meetings with UConn, as they swept the season series … Niagara has played five of its seven games against the Big Green in Hanover, N.H., posting a 1-4-0 record at Thompson Arena … Eagle senior forward Melissa Hamilton played in her 100th career game Saturday … The Huskies posted an overtime victory, Nov. 9, at Northeastern, Niagara’s opponent this past weekend … Dartmouth senior Jillian Rockoff also played in her 100th career game over the weekend, a mark which fellow senior Carly Haggard will reach this weekend.
North Dakota at Findlay (Friday-Saturday)
These teams are meeting for the first time … Findlay freshman goalie Jessica Moffat may have taken over the team’s number-one position after stopping 72 of 74 shots in a pair of shutout losses over the weekend … Her 1.16 goals against average and .963 save percentage are tops among goalies in the four Division I conferences … Sophomore teammate Heidi Tallqvist leads the nation with four power-play goals … Three UND players — juniors Abbey Strong, Stasia Bakhit and Sherrie White — are returning to Findlay for the first time after transferring from the school following the 2001-02 season … Bakhit is the Sioux’s leading scorer with three goals and six points.
Princeton at Mercyhurst (Saturday-Sunday)
Princeton leads the all-time series 3-1-0 … The Tigers won both meetings in Erie, Pa., during the 2000-01 season … The Lakers’ loss Sunday was its first this season when scoring the game’s first goal, after winning their first eight games when taking a 1-0 lead … This weekend’s series will be the final home games of 2002 for Mercyhurst … Five players sit atop the Lakers’ scoring chart with eight points, four of whom are underclassmen and none of whom are seniors … Princeton’s four-game winning streak came to an end over the weekend with 2-1 (ot) and 7-3 losses to No. 8 New Hampshire … The Tigers own two wins over CHA teams this season, opening the season with 5-0 and 2-0 home wins over Wayne State and Findlay, Nov. 2-3.
Elmira at Wayne State (Saturday-Sunday)
Elmira downed Wayne State 5-2 last season in the teams’ only previous meeting … All eight of the Warriors games this season seemingly have been decided in the first period … WSU is 3-0-0 when leading after 20 minutes and 0-5-0 when trailing after the first period … While the Warriors are 0-for-35 on the power play this season, the Eagles are 29-for-29 killing penalties … Elmira, the defending NCAA Division III champions, has gotten off to a 7-0-0 start this season, outscoring opponents 57-0.