The Syracuse women ice hockey team will begin their 2016 campaign, after nearly a month of rest, today against Colgate. After playing 20 games in 2015, the Orange enter the new year with a record of 8-10-2 (.450). Although the team is below .500, they have impressed in conference play boasting a 5-1-2 record in the Collegiate Hockey America. That equates to 12 points in the standings, good enough for second overall just behind Mercyhurst (14).
Syracuse was picked in a preseason poll to win the CHA regular season title, and that prediction is still very obtainable. The Orange will face Mercyhurst four times in 2016. The first two games at home the weekend of January 15th, and the next two on the road the weekend of January 29th. These are obviously key games for the Orange and they are necessary wins if they want to finish first in the CHA.
However, Mercyhurst isn't the only critical game. Of the 14 games remaining on Syracuse's schedule, the final 12 are all against conference opponents. Each conference win results in two points in the conference, a tie is recorded as one, and a loss is zero. Robert Morris is in 3rd place in the standings, only one point back from the Orange. With opponents so close behind and so close ahead, every game from here on out will be critical if the Orange want to experience success this year.
Good news for the Orange, if they can gain ground on Mercyhurst in the series at home, they follow those two games with two more against RIT, an opponent they have beaten by scores of 7-1 and 5-1 this season. With a strong showing against the Lakers and if they can handle the Tigers like they have done in the past, Syracuse could become number one in the conference standings. However they would need to maintain that status for the last eight games where they are set to face Mercyhurst again and Robert Morris.
Their final two regular season games will be against Lindenwood at the War Memorial Arena. Then the CHA tournament begins with the quarterfinal games starting from February 26-28. With a conference championship, Syracuse would advance to it's first ever NCAA tournament.