Women's hockey regains focus and No. 1 ranking

The Mercyhurst College women’s hockey team has returned from a brief hiatus to the top of the USCHO.com Women’s Division I poll.

The Mercyhurst women’s hockey team bounced back from a slow weekend to beat the Robert Morris University Colonials three games in a row, and everyone on the team pitched in for the victories.

The Mercyhurst women are now 10-1-1 in College Hockey America (CHA) play and 23-2-3 for the season as a whole.

Focus and execution were key for the Lakers as they regained control of both No. 1 rankings in the national polls.

“I think the big difference between last week’s performance and this week’s was focus and execution. We had a lot of shots against Niagara but couldn’t put the puck in the net. Their goaltender played well, but we still didn’t score on prime chances. After the loss to Niagara, we worked in practice on capitalizing on our scoring chances and going to the net to find rebounds,” sophomore Kelly Steadman said.

The Lakers’ first game was a rematch from December, when Erie suffered a water main break. On Tuesday evening, the Lakers came out strong and never stopped.

The first goal came from junior captain Melissa Lacroix early in the game. This came after receiving the pass from Steadman while on a Laker power play.

Goals two and three were scored one right after the other by junior captain Vicki Bendus and freshman Stephanie DeSutter, with Bendus providing the helper on DeSutter’s goal. Junior Jesse Scanzano gave the assist on the Bendus goal.

Both goals were exactly two minutes apart.

When the Colonials tried to make a comeback early in the third, junior Ashley Cockell retaliated with a rebound shot to make the final score 4-1.

The Lakers kept up their momentum during the weekend series.

They came out early again. Bendus took a face-off win and passed it off to freshman Samantha Watt for the first point of the game.

A power play goal by Steadman saw the Lakers pull ahead 2-0 in the second.

The third period brought about two more unanswered goals. Number three was courtesy of Bendus and assisted by Scanzano during a 2-on-1 rush. The final was a power-play goal off the stick of sophomore Bailey Bram, capping the final score at 4-0.

Saturday night’s game was no different than the last two, except for the scoring power. The Lakers more than doubled the score of the previous evenings, winning easily by a score of 9-2.

Lacroix struck early yet again with two goals in the first, at 5:09 and 17:17. She now has her career-high four goals this season.

Three other scorers in the first were tallied by sophomore Jess Jones, Cockell and Bram. Bram’s goal came during a Laker power play.

Freshman Lauren Jones provided the only second period goal at 10:17.

Mercyhurst came back with a vengeance in the third with three goals, two coming a mere 78 seconds apart.

Goal number seven was a short-handed shot by Bram at 2:22. J. Jones pushed the Lakers ahead with the eighth goal during a power play at 3:40.

Senior and captain Johanna Malmstrom closed out the game and series with the ninth and final goal at 19:13.

The Lakers are off this weekend. They return to play Wayne State in a two-game series on Friday, Feb. 19 and Saturday, Feb. 20. These games will be held at the Mercyhurst Ice Center.