The Syracuse women's ice hockey team is scheduled to face Penn State in the semifinals of the CHA tournament in Buffalo on Friday. The Orange earned a first round bye and the second seed after finishing second behind Mercyhurst in the CHA standings. The Nittany Lions are the third seed in the tournament.
Penn State faced off against #6 seeded RIT in the quarterfinals. They swept the Tigers in the three game series to advance into the next round. Robert Morris, the fourth seed, defeated Lindenwood in three games. The Colonials will be facing top seeded Mercyhurst. The winners of the semifinals will have a chance to play for the title on Saturday at 3pm. The games are being played at the HarborCenter, which is right next door to the First Niagara Center where the Buffalo Sabres play.
Syracuse goes into the weekend looking for their first ever conference championship. If they win they will also capture a birth in the NCAA tournament, which would be another first for the program.
Last year Syracuse came so close. They lost to RIT in 2-1 double overtime. There is good news for the Orange, they have faced Penn State four times this season, winning three times and tying once. Their chances of getting back into the finals for a second consecutive year look very good.
They head into the tournament on a seven game winning streak and have had time to rest their players. If they advance, they will most likely play Mercyhurst in the championship, a team that has proven difficult to beat. Syracuse is 2-2 this season against the Lakers. Mercyhurst is led by a couple key freshman: Rachel Smith, their points leader, and goaltender Sarah McDonnell, who boasts a 1.54GAA and has the best win percentage in the conference (.700). Expect this to be the matchup heading into the finals. If Robert Morris advances along with Syracuse, it would be a favorable matchup for the Orange. They are 3-1 versus the Colonials this season.
For updates on the tournament and the Syracuse women's ice hockey team, follow me on Twitter @NickPetraccione.