Women's hockey faces Syracuse in CHA semifinal

March 06, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State (17-15-4, 9-9-2 CHA)plays Syracuse in the CHA Tournament semifinal game on March 6 at 7 p.m. The winner advances to the Tournament championship game on March 7 at 3 p.m. against the winner of Robert Morris and Mercyhurst’s semifinal game on March 6 at 3 p.m.

The Nittany Lions advanced to their first CHA Tournament semifinal game after winning back-to-back games against Lindenwood to take the best-of-three series. The wins also snapped a five-game losing streak for Penn State, the most improved team in the NCAA this season, who moved to 17-15-4 on the year. The CHA Goaltender of the Week Celine Whitlinger was outstanding in net during the weekend, allowing just one goal and stopping 47 shots for a .979 save percentage over the two games. She recorded her third shutout of the season on Friday, a 1-0 defensive duel, becoming the first Nittany Lion in program history to record three solo shutouts in a season. Shannon Yoxheimer scored both game-winners against the Lady Lions, and her six game-winning goals this season is tied for fifth in the nation. On Saturday, Bella Sutton, the CHA Rookie of the Week, propelled Penn State to a 3-1 win to clinch the semifinal spot, scoring two goals and assisting on the game-winner. The freshman currently ranks fourth among defensemen in the CHA with 0.42 points per game.

Neck and neck with the Nittany Lions as the regular season neared its conclusion, Syracuse (10-14-10, 8-6-6 CHA) wrapped up the No. 2 seed and first round bye after Penn State was swept by Robert Morris in the regular season finale. February’s CHA Goaltender of the Month Jenn Gilligan has been a stalwart in net for the Orange, finishing the regular season with a 4-0-1 record and a 1.60 goals against average. Melissa Piacentini and Stephanie Grossi have led Syracuse’s offensive charge, posting 29 and 28 points, respectively. Piacentini is also tied for the most power play goals in the nation with 11. The Orange is 5-6-0 all-time in CHA Tournament games. Penn State and Syracuse finished the 2014-15 campaign with matching 1-1-2 records, as each team earned a win and a tie in their series.

No. 6 seed RIT (13-18-5, 5-12-3 CHA) is looking to win back-to-back CHA Tournament championships, posting a 22-12 record in postseason play at the Division I and III levels. Reigning CHA Player of the Week Lindsay Grigg has a team-best 17 points with 11 assists. The CHA’s Co-Goaltender of the Week with Celine Whitlinger, Ali Binnington has performed well in net for RIT this season, maintaining a 1.78 goals against average and .936 save percentage. The senior opened the CHA Tournament by allowing one goal in the first round games. The Nittany Lions held the season series advantage with the Tigers, 3-1, after splitting their first weekend of the season and sweeping RIT in Pegula Ice Arena.

Mercyhurst (23-8-3, 14-5-1 CHA) will attempt to secure its NCAA Division I-record 11th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance this weekend after winning its 13th-straight CHA Regular Season title. The CHA Player of the Month for February, Emily Janiga’s 45 points rank 11th nationally, and she has the most power play goals in the country with 11. As a team, Mercyhurst’s 20.9 percent on the power play is sixth in the nation. In net for the Lakers, Amanda Makela ranks in the top-10 nationally for goals against average (1.38), save percentage (.935) and shutouts (8). This season, Mercyhurst and Penn State split their season series with each team sweeping its home weekend.

In postseason play, Shannon Yoxheimer leads the Nittany Lions’ offensive charge with five points (four goals, one assist), scoring both game-winners in the first round against Lindenwood. Bella Sutton picked up three points in the CHA Tournament semifinal-clinching win over the Lady Lions. Hannah Hoenshell got a tally against the Tigers in Penn State’s 3-2 overtime loss in 2013, Amy Petersen has notched two assists in the CHA Tournament, and Hannah Bramm, Kelly Seward, Emily Laurenzi and Laura Bowman each have one helper. Between the pipes, Celine Whitlinger has a perfect 2-0 record with an outstanding .979 save percentage and 0.50 goals against average.

Penn State’s third season as a Division I program has seen immense strides, the greatest in the nation. The Nittany Lions have the greatest improvement in wins of any team in Division I women’s hockey since last season, earning 11 more victories, and nine more in conference play, from its 2013-14 campaign. Only one other team has five-or-more wins on its record last season (Bemidji State).

The Nittany Lions may be without a senior class, but this season they can still boast a veteran presence. Six players have laced up the skates 100-or-more times for the Blue and White, as Shannon Yoxheimer, Emily Laurenzi, Jordin Pardoski, Paige Jahnke, Jeanette Bateman and Hannah Hoenshell became the first players in program history to play 100 career games. Laurenzi has played in all but one game since Penn State became a Division I program in 2012, and Yoxheimer has missed just two games in that time.

Seven team and individual records have been broken this season, with the 2014-15 squad setting new win (17), power play goal (23) and shorthanded goal (3) marks. Individually, Celine Whitlinger has the most career (17) and single season wins (13), and career and single season shutouts (3). Shannon Yoxheimer, who played in her 100th game in the series finale at Lindenwood and is already the program’s career goals, assists and points leader, now holds the season and career records for game-winning goals (6). Laura Bowman is the school’s single season record holder for goals (16), points (31) and shorthanded goals (2). Hannah Bramm’s five power play goals is also one away from the program mark.

The winner of the CHA Tournament receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, which begins on March 14. The selection show to determine a team’s first round location and opponent is on March 8 on NCAA.com.


Last Updated March 06, 2015