Advancing to the Frozen Four for the first time in program history, the Clarkson University Women's Hockey team will square off with the Mercyhurst University Lakers on Friday at 8:00 pm with a trip to the NCAA National Championship on the line. The final three games of the 2013-14 hockey season will be played at Quinnipiac University's High Point Solutions Arena at TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, Conn., with Wisconsin and Minnesota playing in the other semifinal matchup at 5:00 pm on Friday.
The Golden Knights, guided by ECAC Coaching Staff of the Year co-head coaches Matt and Shannon Desrosiers, and assistant coach Matt Kelly, enter the weekend with a record of 29-5-5 after defeating Boston College 3-1 in the NCAA Quarterfinals on Saturday. Clarkson, led by two-year captain, senior Carly Mercer (Exter, ONT), has set a school-record for wins in a season, surpassing the previous mark of 28 set last year. Mercyhurst upset Cornell last Saturday, 3-2, to advance to the final weekend of play and enters with a record of 28-8-4.
The Lakers had success against the Green and Gold earlier this year when they traveled to Potsdam in October and came away with a 2-0 victory on Friday afternoon before skating to a 1-1 tie the following day. The Knights are 4-8-4 all-time against Mercyhurst in a series dating back to Clarkson's first season, but the majority of that success came in Clarkson's early years.
Mercyhurst plays in the College Hockey America conference and lost to RIT in the championship game. The league does not earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament but the Lakers received an at-large bid to qualify for their 10th straight NCAA appearance.
Clarkson practices at the TD Bank Sports Center on Thursday from 2:45 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. with a team press conference to follow at 4:15 p.m. Practice on Thursday ONLY is open to the public.
The NCAA and the Hamden Local Operating Committee will host "Red Carpet Arrivals" near the main entrance of the TD Bank Sports Center for each of the four teams as they enter the arena on game night. Clarkson is expected to arrive at the arena at 6:00 p.m. on Friday night for its semifinal game against Mercyhurst. Fans are encouraged to cheer on the team during its arrival to the TD Bank Sports Center.
Senior Jamie Lee Rattray (Kanata, ONT) leads the Clarkson offense, as her 62 points are second most in the nation. The ECAC Player of the Year assisted on all three goals against the Eagles last Saturday and is a threat to score every time she touches the ice. A Top-3 Finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award, given to the top player in the country, Rattray leads the country with nine power-play markers and her 34 assists are fourth best as well.
Clarkson has used the top scoring defense, coupled with the second best scoring offense and the best penalty-killing unit in the nation to turn in its most successful season to date.
In net, senior Erica Howe (Ottawa, ONT) has allowed only two goals in five postseason games this season. Her 1.03 goals-against average is best in the country and she also leads all goalies with 14 shutouts. She has started every game in net for the Knights this season and her .808 winning percentage is third best among all goaltenders.
Senior Vanessa Gagnon (St. Constant, QUE) scored two of Clarkson's three goals against Boston College and continues to thrive on the top line. The ECAC Hockey Student Athlete of the Year has tallied 17 goals, trailing only Rattray, and has consistently provided for the Knights on both ends of the ice.
Christine Bestland leads the Mercyhurst offense with 54 points, 22 goals and 32 assists. She has tallied over 200 points in her career. Amanda Makela has started all but three games in goal for the Lakers, posting a 22-7-4 record this season with a 1.80 goals-against average.
Clarkson is 4-8-4 all-time against Mercyhurst, including a 2-0 loss and 1-1 tie early this year in Potsdam. The Lakershold a 48-37 scoring edge and won the first five games of the series, but things have evened out in recent years as the Knights are 4-3-2 since 2007.
Clarkson advances to the Frozen Four for the first time in the program's 11-year history with a 3-1 win over Boston College on Satruday afternoon. The Golden Knights won the ECAC regular season title for the first time with a 2-1 overtime win against Union on February 22nd. Clarkson had its 19 game unbeaten streak snapped against Cornell in the ECAC Championship game … The Knights have outscored their opponents 140-41, including a 88-23 margin over the past 13 games … Clarkson has been especially dominant in the first period, outscoring the opposition 49-12 in the opening 20 minutes … The Knights are 28-0-4 when scoring first and 27-0-3 when leading through two periods … The Knights have the best penalty kill in the country, denying 92.38% of opponents' power-play opportunities … Jamie Lee Rattray became the Green and Gold's all-time leading scorer this season and has tallied 177 (76-101) points for her career. She is second in the nation with 62 points this season … Clarkson's all-time win leader in goal, Erica Howe has a career record of 88-32-15, including 29 shutouts. Two-time ECAC Hockey Goaltender of the Year, she boasts a .932 career save percentage and a 1.56 goals-against average. She leads the country with 14 shutouts this season after recording two against Dartmouth in the quarterfinals and one against Quinnipiac in the semifinals of the ECAC Tournament … Brittany Styner reached the coveted Century Mark earlier this year and now has a career total of 109 points (31-78), including 46 (13-33) this season … Carly Mercer is now the second all-time leading scorer in program history. She now has 150 career points, including 97 assists. … Erin Ambrose leads all defenders in the country in scoring, putting up 1.35 points per game (14-36-50), as well as six power play goals. She has seven more points than the next closest defender in the country.