This Week in the CHA Women’s League: Jan. 9, 2003

No. 10 Mercyhurst was the only CHA team to pick up a victory over the weekend as all four teams returned to action with nonconference games.

The Lakers, who begin a five-game road swing this weekend, extended their unbeaten streak to six games with 5-0 and 6-1 wins over Vermont. Their 15-5-1 record has come thanks to solid all-around play without any superstars.

Mercyhurst does not have a player averaging a point per game, nor one with more than nine goals through 21 games. With a power play operating at 15.3 percent efficiency, offense hasn’t been the Lakers’ catalyst.

“We take pride in our own end of the ice and believe in taking care of the defensive zone,” Laker coach Michael Sisti said before the season started.

The Lakers’ chances of reaching the NCAA Frozen Four are remote, but February contests against No. 1 Harvard and No. 4 Dartmouth give them hope. … Still, a CHA title in the league’s inaugural season is the Lakers’ for the taking.

That defensive effort has been the catalyst. Mercyhurst is allowing just 22 shots per game and sports a goaltending tandem that has a 1.61 goals against average and a .927 save percentage.

Senior Tiffany Ribble and sophomore Desirae Clark have combined to backstop the nation’s third-best scoring defense and have four shutouts to their credit. Ribble’s 1.53 goals against average ranks second nationally.

The Lakers’ chances of reaching the NCAA Frozen Four are remote, but February contests against No. 1 Harvard and No. 4 Dartmouth give them hope. A 2-5-1 record versus opponents .500 or better has buried Mercyhurst at 10th in the PairWise Rankings.

Still, a CHA title in the league’s inaugural season is the Lakers’ for the taking.

Niagara, which finished third in the nation last year, has also seen its chances for a return trip to the Frozen Four fall to nearly zero. Currently 11th in the PairWise, the Purple Eagles have seven games left against .500 opponents but, with just three games in their first 20 against teams with a winning record, their lack of a strong schedule is not in their favor.

After a 6-2 loss and a 3-3 tie at home against Connecticut over the weekend, Niagara will have to redeem itself this weekend in a pair of games at No. 7 Providence.

Meanwhile, Findlay, which had gone 2-0-1 in its last three games before a 30-day layoff, returned from the break only to suffer an 8-0 loss at No. 4 Dartmouth and a 7-1 loss at No. 5 St. Lawrence. A two-game series at home with Cornell this weekend offers the Oilers a chance to get back on track.

Wayne State, which reach Thanksgiving with a 5-5-0 record, has dropped five games in a row, returning from its break only to lose 5-1 at Brown and 9-0 at Harvard. The Warriors will take this weekend off and try to regroup for a two-game set at home against Minnesota State next weekend.

CHA Awards

Offensive Player of the Week–C.J. Ireland, Sr., F, Mercyhurst
Defensive Player of the Week–Jenn Jeffrey, Sr., D, Mercyhurst
Rookie of the Week–Danielle Lansing, Fr., D, Mercyhurst

CHA “House”hold Hints

Mercyhurst senior forward Christy Vinge became the Lakers’ seventh player this season to reach the 100-game plateau in Saturday’s 6-1 win over Vermont … Findlay freshman Meghan Dunlap scored the Oilers’ lone goal of the weekend in Saturday’s loss to St. Lawrence … The goal was the first of her career … Niagara senior forward Val Hall needs just four points to become the Purple Eagles’ all-time leading scorer … Wayne State sophomore goalie Tina Thibadeau stopped a school-record 56 shots in Saturday’s loss to Harvard .. Freshman Naomi Kupferstein’s first career goal, in Friday’s loss to Brown, was the first of her career and the Warriors’ only goal of the weekend.

Coming Up

Niagara at No. 7 Providence (Friday-Saturday)

Providence is 6-3-1 versus the Purple Eagles … Niagara has not won in five tries at Providence … The Friars own a 4-0-1 record at home against the Purple Eagles … Niagara has allowed just 15 goals in its 10 wins and one tie (1.36 per game) but 48 goals in its nine losses (5.33 per game) … Kelli Halcisak was named the Hockey East player of the week by leading Providence to a 6-3 win over Northeastern with a goal and four assists … Five of the Friars’ six goals came on the power play … Sophomore forward Rush Zimmerman has scored multiple points in seven of Providence’s last eight games.

No. 10 Mercyhurst at Colgate (Saturday-Sunday)

The teams have met just twice, with Mercyhurst taking 3-0 and 4-0 wins in Erie, Jan. 5-6, 2002 … The Lakers have allowed just eight goals during their six-game unbeaten streak … Mercyhurst is 6-2 in one-goal games … Freshman goalie Shivaun Siegl made her collegiate debut in Friday’s 5-0 win, stopping one shot in 8:34 of relief work … Colgate had a four-game winning streak snapped with 5-0 and 3-1 losses at Maine Monday and Tuesday … The Raiders own a 5-1-0 record at home this season.

Cornell at Findlay (Saturday-Sunday)

Cornell leads the all-time series 3-1-0 … The teams’ only meeting in Findlay resulted in a 5-4 overtime win for the Big Red, Feb. 12, 2000 … In their two losses over the weekend, the Oilers were outshot 99-24 … Despite giving up 12 goals over the weekend, Findlay freshman goalie Jessica Moffat still sports a .927 save percentage and a 2.44 goals against average … Cornell has scored just seven goals in nine games this season … In those nine games, the Big Red has held a lead for just 4:36.

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