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Previewing Penn State Women’s Hockey’s CHA Championship Game vs. Mercyhurst

No. 10 Penn State women’s hockey (26-8-2) will play in its first-ever CHA final against Mercyhurst (21-13-2) on Saturday, March 4. Currently riding an unbeaten streak since November 26 and fresh off a sweep of No. 4-seeded Lindenwood with an 11-2 goal differential, the Nittany Lions drew the CHA Goliath, 13-time champion Lakers for their final conference bout.

Arguably the Nittany Lions’ biggest rival, Mercyhurst currently holds a 24-13-9 all-time record against Penn State, though, this trend has been reversing in recent years, as the program in Hockey Valley has matured. This season, Penn State is 3-1 against Mercyhurst with perhaps the most talent this roster has ever seen, so this could be the year that the giant falls. Here are the keys to making that happen.

Start Fast, Open The Floodgates

The Nittany Lions are a very offensive team, putting 136 pucks in the net throughout this year’s campaign. A big part of Penn State’s game plan is scoring first and getting on the board early. Of its 26 wins, its opponents opened the scoring in only four games. In its losses, its opponents scored first in seven of eight games. The momentum of that early goal and playing from in front are paramount to this hockey program.

Mercyhurst has been the only team in the conference this year to grab three of four opening goals on the Nittany Lions this season, with the only other team tallying just one being Lindenwood. That being said, Penn State has proved it can come back from behind against the Lakers, but its season-long track record is worrying.

Feed The Freshman

Tessa Janecke has had an incredible freshman season and is currently on the HCA Rookie of the Year watch list. Janecke is also coming off a jaw-dropping weekend against Lindenwood, tallying six points on three goals and three assists and registering the program’s second-ever postseason hat-trick.

The Nittany Lions will need a consistent goal-scoring threat on the ice to crack Laker goaltender Ena Nystrøm, who currently has six shutouts on the year and has held the usually hot Penn State side .65 goals-per-game under its season average of 3.8 in their four matchups.

Block The Puck

Mercyhurst doesn’t lose often, but when it does, it’s because its shots didn’t even make it to the net. With deadly accuracy and an ability to score from anywhere, leading goal scorers Liliane Perreault and Sara Boucher will try to put as many pucks on goal as they can, no matter the location.

The Nittany Lions have already had great success this year against the Lakers with unselfish defensive play in front of stalwart goaltender Josie Bothun, with 23, 23, and 19 blocked shots, respectively, in each of their last three contests. These totals are three of the four highest that Mercyhurst has faced this season, contributing to the team’s lack of success against the blue and white as of late. If the Nittany Lions want to lift the cup this tournament, getting traffic in the shooting lanes should be a top priority.

Keep The Roar Zone Loud

Penn State has never played for the CHA postseason cup before, but a big part of calming the team’s nerves and rattling its opponent will be the students. The home-ice advantage will be big, especially in a division of the sport where goaltenders aren’t used to getting chirped by fans, and this noticeably affects their performance following goals. Regularly, the Nittany Lions have been able to tap in a follow-up, or even a third tally after cracking a goalie for the first time at home.

The puck will drop at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 4. The first 100 students in the door will get free admission. You can also stream the matchup on BTN+.

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About the Author

Jack Scott

Jack is a junior industrial engineering major from Pittsburgh, PA. Sometimes, he enjoys the misunderstanding of his friends and family that Penn State Club Ski Racing may be a D1 sport and usually won't correct them. Jack is way too into Thundercat for his own good. Follow him on Twitter @joscottIV and Instagram @jackscott._iv

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