CHA Tournament Predictions — Orange to the Semifinals
By John Dales
Citrus TV Ice Hockey Beat Reporter
It’s the greatest time of the year for sports fans: March. Yes, the long month of February is over, and March Madness is finally here. I’m not talking about college basketball’s version of March Madness though, it’s postseason time in college hockey. The CHA Tournament kicks off this Thursday with six teams all having high hopes of earning a trip to the big dance. By Saturday night, only one team will remain, and that lucky group will be headed to the 2020 NCAA Tournament. So, the big question: where does Syracuse fall into place? Will the Orange repeat as champs and win three games in as many days, or does an up and down season come to a disappointing finish?
Well, SU kicks off the tournament with a Thursday afternoon matinee against Lindenwood. The Orange and the Lions have played each other four times throughout the season, and SU has come out on top in every one of them. However, that doesn’t exactly tell the whole story. Syracuse won the first two matchups by an aggregate 20-1, but did so while Lindenwood was playing forwards in net. The Lions were hungry for revenge when they met back up in February, so the third matchup took a late Mae Batherson goal for the Orange to eke out a 3-2 victory. Their final meeting was yet another blowout victory for SU, as they won 8-0. Despite three of their four wins being blowouts over Lindenwood, I think Syracuse will be challenged in this one. However, I think Paul Flanagan is just too good and too experienced of a coach for his team to lose its first game of the tournament.
Prediction: Syracuse: 5 Lindenwood: 2
The other first round game is RIT against Penn State. The Nittany Lions are the higher seed, but the difference-maker for me is the goalie position. If I was a coach, there’s no goalie I’d rather have starting for my team than RIT’s Terra Lanteigne. Just a few weekends ago, Lanteigne had 117 saves in just two games against Syracuse. I think Lanteigne gives the Tigers the edge, and they move on to the semifinals.
Prediction: RIT: 2 Penn State:0
Those two outcomes in the first round would make for a Syracuse-Robert Morris matchup in the semifinals.The two teams split their regular season series 2-2, so a winner-take-all fifth game makes for some excitement. I think revenge plays a big factor in this one for the Colonials. This past Saturday, all they needed to do was beat SU in order to get the top seed in the CHA Tournament. The Orange would not make things easy for them on senior day, though. RMU’s coaching staff complained as six penalties were called on their team, and one led to the game-winning Syracuse goal in the third period. Robert Morris’s players and staff all left the Tennity Ice Pavilion with a sour taste in their mouth to end the season, and I don’t think they’ll let it happen two games in a row.
Prediction: Robert Morris:4 Syracuse: 3
I don’t think the other semifinal will be as tightly-contested as the Syracuse-Robert Morris one. Mercyhurst has been the top dog all year, and are also coming off a disappointing loss to end the season. The Lakers aren’t going to let their season end with two straight losses, no matter how good Terra Lanteigne is for RIT.
Prediction: Mercyhurst: 3 RIT:1
A championship between Robert Morris and Mercyhurst would truly be a battle of the two top dogs in the conference. The Lakers have the edge in the regular season series, going 2-1-1 against the Colonials. Ultimately though, I think that Robert Morris ends up winning. They have one of the best goalies in the conference, in Raygan Kirk, who’s only a freshman. I think she shuts down the Mercyhurst offense, and the Colonials earn a trip to the big dance.
Prediction: Robert Morris:4 Mercyhurst:1
CitrusTV boots will be on the ground in Buffalo for the CHA Tournament. I will have all the coverage of the Orange’s tournament run from the LECOM HarborCenter. Make sure to follow along for all the updates in what promises to be an exciting couple of days. Also, for a look at the full tournament bracket, click here.
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