After demolishing Vermont and handily defeating Aurora in an exhibition last Saturday at Cheel arena, the Clarkson women's team is showing that they're not the offensively challenged team of the past, scoring 16 goals in those three games. This weekend the Golden Knights head to Erie, Pennsylvania, face 3rd ranked Mercyhurst for a pair of games that will set the tone for the rest of the season. Taking a game in PA will likely vault the Knights into the national rankings, getting swept will have hockey snobs saying that Clarkson is not for real. This game also has some real post-season ramifications in terms of Pairwise as well. Alot of pressure for the second official series of the season.
Mercyhurst is coming off of a 5-2, 8-1 sweep of a Maine team that is looking to solidify its place in the top tier of Hockey East. The Lakers had 13 players get on the scoresheet over the weekend. The Lakers return all four of their top scorers from last year, led by sophomore Valerie Chouinard who had four goals and three assists against the Black Bears. Junior goalie Laura Hosler should see all of the time in net this weekend. She allowed three goals on 29 shots against Maine. Hosler is a quality netminder who won't be beaten as easily as the previous goalies that Clarkson has faced. She carried a .908 save percentage last season, and a 1.82 GAA.
Clarkson shut-out AA PWHL team Aurora on Saturday 5-0. Rick Seeley rested Kira Hurley, and Jessica Finley got the call knocking down all FOUR Panther shots. Clarkson will continue to look towards Marie-Jo Gaudet and Lindsay Williams to spark the Knights offense, and look for contributions from the rookies, Eusepi, Lavoie, Moorehead and Selina. A big question mark will be whether Melissa Marshall can continue her offensive pace. If so, the Knights will be in a really good place this season. Expect Kira Hurley back in goal after getting the weekend off.
The Laker offense put 88 shots on goal against Maine, which means if Clarkson's newly found offensive pace doesn't click early, Hurley and the Knights D will need to hold down the fort. Hurley has only seen 19 shots so far this season, so an early barrage will either crush the Knights or provide a massive confidence boost for the Knights. Clarkson needs to push the offensive opportunities so that we can ignore the scenario I just described. The Knights need to stay out ofthe box. Traditionally, they've been a team that only takes one or two penalties a game, but as we saw in the Vermont series, that might be changing. Mercyhurst scored 13 special teams goals against Maine, 11 on the power-play. Extended time in the box means extended trouble.
Clarkson 3, Mercyhurst 2
Mercyhurst 4, Clarkson 2