Defending National Champions, No. 1 Clarkson women's hockey opens NCAA postseason action
Thursday, March 8, 2018 - 7:20 am

Ranked No. 1 in the country, the Clarkson University Women's Hockey team begins defense of its National Championship on Saturday when the Golden Knights host Mercyhurst University in a NCAA Quarterfinal game at Cheel Arena. Face off at 2:00 p.m.

Clarkson, which won its second national title last year in St. Charles, MO, is striving to reach next weekend's Frozen Four in Minneapolis, MN. The Golden Knights are making their seventh overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament and sixth consecutive showing in women's college hockey's showcase event. The Green and Gold have advanced to the Frozen Four three times and won Clarkson's first NCAA Championship in 2014 in Hamden, CT.

Posting a school record for wins with a 33-4-1 overall record, Clarkson skated to its second straight ECAC Hockey Tournament Championship title last weekend. The Knights defeated archrival St. Lawrence for the fifth time this season, with a 4-2 victory in Saturday's semifinal contest, and then claimed the league's top prize for the second consecutive year at Cheel Arena by recording its second straight shutout in the conference title game, blanking Colgate 3-0. Clarkson shut out Cornell 1-0 in last year's championship game in Potsdam.

• Clarkson is 7-4 in the NCAA Tournament, including a 3-3 mark in the quarterfinals. The Knights have won both quarterfinal games they have hosted at Cheel Arena, defeating Boston College (3-1) in 2014 and Cornell (3-1) last year. Both of those victories started the Green and Gold on their championship-title winning runs.

• Mercyhurst leads the all-time series against the Knights, 8-5-4. Clarkson, however, won the last game, defeating the Lakers in the 2014 NCAA Semifinals, 5-1 in Hamden, CT in the teams' only postseason meeting.

• Similar to the ECAC Hockey All-League All-Star awards, Clarkson also dominated the conference championship All-Tournament Team, placing five players on the six member all-star squad. The Knights' sophomore center Michaela Pejzlova also earned Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. Joining Pejzlova on the all-tournament team were junior forward Loren Gabel, senior defenseman Savannah Harmon, sophomore defenseman Ella Shelton and senior goaltender Shea Tiley.

• Clarkson claimed its fourth ECAC Hockey Regular Season Championship with a 19-3 league mark, sharing the title with Colgate. The Knights earned the No. 1 seed for the conference playoffs by virtue of a better record against the top four teams in the league than the Raiders.

• The Knights boast the nation's longest current unbeaten streak having posted seven straight victories. Clarkson has won 22 of its last 23 games.

• The Knights own the second stingiest defense in the nation, allowing only 1.21 goals per game. Clarkson is fourth in the country in offense, scoring 4.03 goals per game. The Knights outscored their opponents 21-4 in the ECAC Hockey playoffs. Clarkson is second in the NCAA in scoring margin (2.82).

• Clarkson is second in the country in combined specialty teams play at 59.4% (171/288). The Knights rank third in penalty-kill (90.1%, 136-151) and fourth on the power play (25.5%, 35-137).

• Ranked among the top four teams in the national polls throughout the season, the defending NCAA Champions have been powered by the play of Top 10 2018 Patty Kazmaier Award Finalists – senior defenseman Savannah Harmon, senior goaltender Shea Tiley and junior left wing Loren Gabel. Gabel has been honored as a Top-3 Finalist!

• Gabel is enjoying a record-setting year for the Green and Gold. Third in the nation in scoring and third in goals per game, she has set new single-season marks for points and goals at Clarkson, both previously held by 2014 Patty Kamaizer winner Jamie Lee Rattray '14. Gabel has tallied 73 points on 35 goals and 38 assists. She ranks sixth on the Knights' all-time scoring list with 142 points (75-67) through 119 games. She was named ECAC Hockey Player of the Year. Gabel has tallied 12 points (6-6) in four postseason games this year. She set the record for fastest hat trick, scoring three times in a span of 2:21 in the opening 4:12 of the quarterfinal Game 1 win over Yale. The three-goal outing gave her four career hat tricks, a new Clarkson record. She also tallied three assists in the lopsided 10-1 victory to give her six points on the night, tying the Knights' record for most points in a game. Gabel leads the nation in plus/minus at +57.

• Clarkson's captain Harmon was honored as ECAC Hockey's Best Defenseman for the second consecutive year. She leads the nation's defenders with a +51 plus/minus and is tied for third in scoring from the blueline with 32 points, including 24 assists.

• Tiley backstops Clarkson's stingy defense as one of the top goaltenders in the nation. She has started 37 of the 38 games, playing the second most minutes (2184:33) of all goalies. Tiley leads the country in victories (32) and winning percentage (.878) and is tied for most shutouts (11). She ranks fourth in Division I in goals against average (1.26) and save percentage (.941).

• Nearly doubling the point total off all the other ECAC Hockey freshmen, Elizabeth Giguere has made a big impres-sion in her first collegiate season. Named conference Rookie of the year, she has shattered the Clarkson freshman scoring marks with 68 points and 25 goals and is the nation's second-leading playmaker with 43 assists. Giguere posts a +51 plus/minus and has tallied five power-play goals and four game-winners.

• Pejzlova centers one of the top lines in the country and is the Knights' third-leading scorer with 52 points (25-27). A second-team ECAC Hockey All-Star, she is closing in on the century mark, averaging over a point per game with 36 goals and 48 assists through 75 career games. Pejzlova recorded five goals and 10 points in the league playoffs.

The Series:

Clarkson trails Mercyhurst 5-8-4 in the all-time series. The Knights were 0-5-2 in their first seven matchups against the Lakers, but are 5-3-2 in their last 10 contests. The last time Clarkson and Mercyhurst played was in the 2014 NCAA Semifinals. The Golden Knights defeated the Lakers 5-1 to advance to the National Championship game. Clarkson is 3-3-2 against Mercyhurst at Cheel Arena. The last time the Lakers traveled to Potsdam was on October 18 and 19, 2013. The Golden Knights lost 2-0 on Friday and then tied the Lakers 1-1 on Saturday. This will be the first time anyone on the current roster has played against Mercyhurst.

Scouting Mercyhurst

Mercyhurst is 18-14-4 overall and advances to the NCAA Tournament after winning the College Hockey America Championship Tournament last weekend in Buffalo. The Lakers beat Syracuse 3-2 in overtime in their conference semifinals and took down Robert Morris 5-3 in the championship game to get the automatic bid. Mercyhurst was 13-4-3 in CHA games this year, placing second in the standings. The Lakers went 1-4-1 in games against ECAC teams this season. Mercyhurst, like most teams, had a worse record on the road going 7-8-1 away from Erie. The Lakers are riding a four-game win streak as they enter the NCAA tournament.

Mercyhurst is led offensively by Maggie Knott and Vilma Tanskanen who have 29 and 27 points, respectively. Tanskanen leads the Lakers in goals with 14. Knott is tied for the team lead with 17 assists on the year. Mercyhurst has two goalies that have seen significant playing time. Kennedy Blair is 11-7-1 in 19 starts and Sarah McDonnell is 7-7-3 in 17 starts. Blair has the higher goals against average (1.57) and save percentage (.934) of the two.