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Syracuse Women's Ice Hockey: CHA Tournament Preview

The 2nd seeded Syracuse Women's Ice Hockey team begins CHA Tournament play on Friday night against Penn State. If the Orange beat Penn State, they will play Saturday for a NCAA bid.

Drew Jordan

Two wins in this weekend's CHA Tournament and the Syracuse Orange Women's Ice Hockey team can set program history. This is the 1st year that the CHA Tournament champion will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and the 2nd-seeded Orange will be vying for the opportunity at the program's 1st NCAA bid.

Syracuse finished the regular season with a conference record of 8-6-6 and the Orange will face Penn State in Friday's semifinal at Mercyhurst, which will host RIT in the other semi-final. The Orange were 1-1-2 against the Nittany Lions this season, so it's hard to see an advantage for either team. Syracuse finished ranked a little higher on offense averaging 2.2 goals per game to 2.0 for Penn State, but the Nittany Lions had the edge on defense giving up an average of 2.39 goals per game to 2.79 for the Orange. The winner will advance to play in Saturday afternoon's championship game.

Leading the way on offense for Syracuse this season are Stephanie Grossi and Melissa Piacentini with 29 points each. Piacentini is tied for 1st in the country with 11 power-play goals. Syracuse goalie Jenn Gilligan was named the CHA Goalie of the Month for February. Gilligan was 4-0-1 last month, allowing only 8 goals in 5 games while posting a .959 save percentage.

Last night, the CHA held their annual awards banquet and the Orange were well-represented among the winners. Head Coach Paul Flanagan was named CHA Coach of the Year, marking the 3rd time that Flanagan has won the award. Stephanie Grossi was selected as CHA Rookie of the Year. Grossi's 29 points were tops among CHA rookies and she is the 1st Syracuse winner of this award.

The Orange placed two players on the CHA 1st-Team- Juniors Melissa Piacentini and Nicole Renault, two players on the CHA 2nd team- Senior Akane Hosoyamada and Junior Jenn Gilligan, and two on the CHA All-Rookie team where Grossi was joined by Alysha Burriss.