Looking back, Mercyhurst head coach Michael Sisti realizes his Lakers, ranked 10th nationally and ninth in the PairWise Rankings, could be in a better position had they put away a few more games early in the season.
They were 0-5-1 against ranked teams prior to Thanksgiving, with only a pair of three-goal losses to St. Lawrence being anything close to a blowout.
Those games, however, have had a positive impact on Mercyhurst recently. The Lakers have won seven straight games, including key road wins at Brown and Niagara, and they enter the home stretch of the season with a 17-5-1 record.
— Mercyhurst head coach Michael Sisti
“I think we’re playing with great urgency right now,” Sisti said. “The season is rolling along quickly and we were in some close games early, where we had a chance to win. If we had played with more urgency we could have prevented some of those games from slipping by and, now, the kids realize there’s not much left to the season.”
The Lakers have scored 31 goals during their seven-game winning streak, which Sisti said is a big plus. They scored just 37 goals in their first 16 games this season.
With just nine games left on the regular-season schedule, Mercyhurst’s season is closer to its end than most teams. However, the Lakers have three conference games in February along with a single game with No. 1 Harvard and a season-ending series against No. 4 Dartmouth. Those games could do much for their hopes of getting into the Frozen Four, but they’ve got three more games before even getting to those matchups.
“We’re pretty focused on what’s in front of us,” Sisti said. “Cornell is much better than their record indicates and they seem to be starting to gel as a team. Ohio State’s record could be flip-flopped because they’ve been in every game. We realize we’ve got two tough weekends on the road and we’ll worry about February’s schedule in February.”
Right now, with the team going well, Sisti feels his team needs to fight off complacency.
“I think, like most teams, when we’re going good things fall into place. When we’re not going good, we’re vulnerable. We have to fight off any complacency we may have because we’ve got a tough stretch on the road coming up.”
Optimistically, Sisti said his team’s goal is to win out, an accomplishment that would make them challengers for one of the four spots in the NCAA Championship. Playing their best hockey, though, is what he expects of his team.
“From the start of the program we’ve want to be the best team that we can be. We don’t want to underachieve and beat ourselves.
“We’ve been a hard-working, disciplined team. We want to maximize our potential and keep improving, trying to get the players to be the best they can be. We want to do what we can to reach our potential and if that’s good enough to get all nine games then that’s great.”
With 17 wins, Sisti admits to being happy with where his team is at this point in the season.
“We knew this season that there would be some awesome teams because everyone in college hockey got better this year,” he said. “The talent of teams has gotten better. We knew our team would be better but so would everyone else and, record-wise, I didn’t know where that would put us.”
The Lakers have quietly and methodically put together another solid win-loss record. They lead the CHA and are the odds-on favorite to claim the league’s first championship. Whether or not that will see them playing in late March remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure. The team has moved in the right direction for four years and will be heard from in the future.
Offensive Player of the Week–Chrissy Yule, So., F, Mercyhurst
Defensive Player of the Week–Jenn Jeffrey, Sr., D, Mercyhurst
Rookie of the Week–Hillary Foord, Fr., D, Findlay
Findlay senior goaltender Erin Blair recorded her first shutout since Jan. 5, 2001, in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Cornell … She stopped 37 of 39 shots in the two-game series … The Oilers are second nationally with 124 power-play chances … Four of Mercyhurst’s seven goals in Sunday’s win came on the power play, accounting for over 20 percent of their PPGs on the season … Eleven different players had at least one point in the two wins at Colgate … Niagara was 1-4-0 versus ranked teams before earning a pair of ties at No. 9 Providence over the weekend … The Purple Eagles have tied their last three games and are 3-2-3 in their last eight games … Wayne State has gotten 66 percent of its offensive production (39 of 59 points) from its underclassmen … During the Warriors’ five-game losing streak, they’ve been outscored 24-5.
Findlay at Colgate (Friday-Saturday)
Findlay at Elmira (Sunday)
Findlay is 3-1-0 versus Colgate, including 5-0 and 4-2 wins at home earlier this season … The Oilers have not played Elmira but will do so three times in their last 12 games of the season … Eight of Findlay’s final 12 remaining games are on the road, including this weekend’s three-game road trip to Upstate New York … The Oilers are just 3-5-0 on the road this season … Findlay has been outscored 17-5 in its last four games … Elmira is ranked number one in Division III with a record of 11-2-2 … Both losses came at the hands of CHA foe Wayne State.
Minnesota State at Wayne State (Friday-Saturday)
MSU is 5-1-0 versus Wayne State … The Mavericks and Warriors are playing in Detroit for the first time this weekend … Wayne State is 3-3-0 at home this season … MSU is 1-4-3 on the road … The Warriors were idle last weekend after dropping a 5-1 decision at Brown and a 9-0 decision at Harvard … The losses extended their losing streak to five games …WSU has scored first in all five of its wins … Maverick junior forward Amanda Osborn’s team-high 17 points are more than any MSU player has scored in either of the last two seasons … Osborn had just 10 points in two seasons coming into the 2002-03 campaign … MSU senior defenseman Anne Rickbeil played in her 100th career game in Saturday’s 3-3 tie at Bemidji State.
No. 10 Mercyhurst at Cornell (Friday-Saturday)
The Lakers defeated Cornell 2-1 and 4-1 in their only previous meetings, Nov. 24-25, 2001 … Despite not having a player averaging a point per game, Mercyhurst has 10 players who have scored 10 or more points on the season … Ten different players have scored on the power play and 12 different players have game-winning goals for the Lakers … Mercyhurst senior goalie Tiffany Ribble ranks among the top five nationally in goals against average (2nd), save percentage (3rd) and winning percentage (5th).
Quinnipiac at Niagara (Saturday)
The two teams have met four times, with the Purple Eagles winning all four during the 2001-02 season … Eleven different players have accounted for Niagara’s 17 power-play goals this season … Purple Eagle senior forward Val Hall has scored more than 20 percent (14 of 65) of her team’s goals … Saturday’s game is the last of 12 consecutive road games for the Bobcats … Wednesday’s 4-3 loss at Yale was their sixth game in 12 days.