RIT, Syracuse Advance to CHA Semifinals

RIT 3, Penn State 0

ROCHESTER, NY – Ali Binnington (Oakville, Ontario/Mississauga Chiefs) stopped all 31 shots she faced to record her sixth shutout of the season, leading the third-seeded RIT women's hockey team (18-15-3) past six-seed, visiting Penn State University (4-29-3) 3-0 in game two of the College Hockey America First Round series at Ritter Arena on Saturday afternoon. RIT wins the series 2-0 and advances to face Second-seeded Robert Morris in the CHA Semifinal from Mercyhurst next Friday at a time to be determined.

Leading 1-0 in the third period, RIT broke the game open with a pair of goals 8:07 apart to put the game away. Melissa Bromley (Aurora, Ontario/Aurora Panthers), Erin Zach (Elmira, Ontario/Cambridge Fury), and Emilee Bulleid (Waterdown, Ontario/Stoney Creek Sabres) scored for the Tigers. Binnington stopped eight shots in the first period, 15 in the second, and eight in the third for her 14th career shutout. She is now 14-9-2 with a 1.82 goals against average and .940 save percentage this season.

Nicole Paniccia made 39 saves for the Nittany Lions. Jill Holdcroft led the way with nine shots on goal.

RIT out-shot Penn State, 42-31. The Tigers were 1-for-4 with the man-advantage, while Penn State was 0-for-3.

Today's game was the final contest at Ritter Arena for the women. RIT will move into the 4,200-seat Gene Polisseni Center in time for the 2014-15 season.

"It's a great feeling to finish (Penn State) off in two games and play for a league championship next weekend, which is the ultimate goal," said RIT head coach Scott McDonald. "I thought we controlled play for much of the first period and (Melissa) Bromley's goal really sparked us for the third period."

Neither team scored over the opening 20 minutes, with RIT holding a 17-8 edge in shots. The Tigers held the majority of play in the period, but were unable to get on the board.

Penn State out-played RIT for several stretches during the second period, but Binnington was the best player on the ice, keeping the Nittany Lions off the board. She made a great save on a hard shot by Yoxheimer early in the frame and then moments later, robbed Holdcroft on a tip-in from point-blank range.

Bromley would get RIT on the board with 37.8 seconds left in the second period, circling the net and centering a pass attempt that went off a Penn State defender and through the legs of Paniccia for her fourth goal of the season. Kourtney Kunichika (Fullerton, CA/LA Selects) and Celeste Brown(Great Falls, MT/National Sports Academy) assisted on the goal.

RIT pulled away with two third period goals. Zach made it 2-0 Tigers on a 4-on-3 power-play, taking the puck deep in her own zone, rocketing up the ice and cutting to the outside. Zach fired a shot from in close on the left side that snuck through the pads of Paniccia for her seventh goal of the year.

Bulleid tallied her first goal of the season with 3:46 to put the game away, taking a drop feed from Mackenzie Stone (Kars, Ontario/South Carleton) in the slot and fired a shot that Paniccia got a piece of but trickled past into the goal. Cassie Clayton (Pickering, Ontario/PEAC School) also assisted on the goal.

RIT is 19-12 all-time in postseason contests at the Division I and III levels, since women's hockey was recognized as a NCAA Championship sport in 2001. Since McDonald took over as head coach in 2006, RIT is 15-7 in the postseason, including a 15-3 mark at Ritter Arena. The Tigers are 14-1 at home in the postseason over the last four seasons, including a 5-0 mark en route to winning the 2012 NCAA Division III National Championship. Last season, the Tigers advanced to the CHA Semifinals, defeating Penn State in a two-game sweep in the first round, both by one-goal outcomes, before falling to Syracuse in overtime of the semifinals.

Today was the sixth meeting between the two schools this season, as RIT won the series 5-0-1 edge this far. RIT won a pair of one-goal games against Penn State at Ritter Arena on Nov. 15-16. The two teams skated to a 2-2 tie at Penn State on Jan. 31, while the Tigers skated to a 3-1 win the next day. RIT is 10-0-2 all-time against the Nittany Lions. Six of the last seven meetings between the two schools have been decided by one goal or less.

Last night, Brown scored 10:15 into overtime to give RIT a 3-2 win over the Nittany Lions in game one.

RIT went 1-3-0 against Robert Morris, who is ranked No. 10 nationally, RIT defeated Robert Morris in the last meeting between the two schools, 1-0 on Feb. 15 at Ritter Arena.

Courtesy RIT Athletic Communications

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Penn State women's hockey had its second season as a varsity program cut short in the CHA First Round following a 3-0 loss to RIT Saturday afternoon at Ritter Arena. The Tigers took the opening series, 2-0, for a second straight time.

Sixth-seeded Penn State (4-29-3) fought third-seeded RIT for a second straight day, holding the Tigers coreless through the first 39:22 of the contest. An unfortunate deflection off a Nittany Lion defender allowed Melissa Bromley to score her fourth goal of the season late in the second period, which would be all the Tigers would need. RIT netminder Ali Binnington collected the shutout with 31 saves.

Penn State attempted the comeback in the third period, but a power-play goal in a 4-on-3 situation by Erin Zach doubled the RIT advantage with 11:53 remaining. Emilee Bullied's first goal of the season with 3:46 capped the final women's game at Ritter Arena as the Tigers improved to 10-0-2 all-time against Penn State.

The Nitttany Lions didn't go down without a fight as Nicole Paniccia (Oakville, Ont.) was pulled in favor of an extra attacker over the final 3:38 of the game. PSU fired six shots and two of which reached net, but Binnignton was there for the stop and earned the shutout. The Tigers move on to play second-seeded Robert Morris in the CHA Semifinals hosted by Mercyhurst.

Paniccia finished the game with 39 saves and had a total of 79 saves in the series, while allowing six goals in her final collegiate outing. Sophomores Jill Holdcroft (Pennsylvania Furnace, Pa.) and Shannon Yoxheimer (Jackson, Mich.) led the Nittany Lions with nine and six shots, respectively.

Saturday's game was also the final ones for Jenna Welch (Austin, Texas) and Taylor Gross (Colorado Springs, Colo.). Last night was the final game for Lindsay Reihl (Cheshire, Conn.) who missed Saturday due to an injury sustained in Friday's contest.

The final shot count was 42-31 in favor of the Tigers with RIT going 1-for-4 on the power play and Penn State going 0-for-3. The Nittany Lions won the faceoff battle, 39-31, and blocked 16 shots to RIT's 20.

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Syracuse 6, Lindenwood 0

SYRACUSE, N.Y.—The Orange (20-13-3) was strong on both sides of the puck to skate past Lindenwood (5-26-3), 6-0 and advance to the conference semifinals on Saturday afternoon in Tennity Ice Pavilion. Syracuse will take on No. 8 Mercyhurst in the CHA semifinal matchup on Friday in Erie, Pa.

With this win, SU has matched the program's record of 20 wins in a season and has the opportunity to beat the record next weekend. Regardless of the outcome against Mercyhurst, Syracuse will have the best winning percentage in program history this season.

"Once we got up 3-0, we came out in the second period and started to play a bit more individually. We needed to keep our head in the game because, although we took that lead after the first period and set the table nicely for ourselves, it wasn't over yet. After the fourth goal, though, it seemed like Lindenwood started to sag a bit."

Five different Orange scored goals in the contest and Melissa Piacentini and Margot Scharfe each had a three-point game with Piacentini notching two goals and an assists and Scharfe recording two assists and a goal. SU's six goals is the most scored by one team in any of Syracuse's contests this season.

Julie Knerr scored the third game-winning goal of her career just 1:01 into the game. Freshman Heather Schwarz picked up her second career postseason goal and has three total points in the CHA Tournament so far.

Jenesica Drinkwater recorded her fourth shutout of the season and eighth of her career, making 22 saves along the way including 12 in the final period. Alexis Molotky stopped 34 of SU's 41 attempts on net.

Syracuse opened the game with a well-orchestrated team goal. Each skater touched the puck en route to Knerr's stick, which was waiting on the back doorstep to give Syracuse a 1-0 lead one minute into the game that would never be answered by the Lions.

The Orange continued its offensive pressure throughout the first period, scoring two more goals to take a 3-0 lead that would set the tone for the remainder of the game. Scharfe scored her goal with 13:16 to go in the period when she snuck one past Molotky in net that was given to her by Piacentini from behind the net.

Schwarz scored next to deflate Lindenwood's hopes of a comeback, giving the Orange a 3-0 lead with more than two periods left to play.

The next two goals were scored in similar fashion, both by Piacentini in front of the net off a pass by Scharfe from the left corner. After Piacentini's second goal, the Orange commanded a 5-0 lead with 7:28 to go in the game.

Cara Johnson scored the cherry on top with 2:08 remaining in the game when she scored on a fast break. She gathered the puck at center ice, carried it into the Lindenwood zone and wristed it top-shelf to end scoring with a 6-0 SU advantage.

Courtesy Syracuse Athletic Communications

The Lindenwood women's ice hockey team fell Saturday afternoon 6-0 to Syracuse in game two of the teams' best-of-three series to lose the series two games to none.

The Orange came out strong in the game with a goal from Julie Kneer just a minute into the game. At the conclusion of the play, standout goalie Nicole Hensley was injured and had to leave the contest. Hensley had made all but one start for the Lady Lions this season in net and was in the top-five in saves for a season in NCAA history.

Freshman Alexis Molotky replaced Hensley between the pipes for the remainder of the game. Following the Hensley injury, Syracuse scored two more goals in the first period to take a 3-0 lead into the second period. One of the star players for the Orange, Melissa Piacentini scored a goal in the second period and midway through the third period to increase the deficit to five for Lindenwood. A late third-period goal got the game to the final score of 6-0 and ended the Lady Lions' season with a record of 5-26-3.

Molotky finished with 34 saves in net with the loss going to Hensley with her giving up the first goal of the game.

Courtesy Lindenwood Athletic Communications