After winning the College Hockey America title, the Mercyhurst University women’s hockey team had to wait 24 hours to find out if they would receive one of five at-large bids to the NCAA Women’s Hockey Final Eight.
“We all knew we could be left out,” said Stephanie Ciampa, the Lakers’ goaltender from Peabody. “There were a cluster of teams that could have made it; those last two spots were up for grabs and I was a little nervous. I didn’t want my season to end.”
The CHA title, which Mercyhurst won with a come-from-behind victory over Syracuse last weekend, doesn’t carry an automatic bid for another two seasons, so tournament MVP Ciampa and her teammates could only wait.
They did, however, get their wish. The Lakers (28-6-1) are the No. 7 seed and will face second-seeded Cornell tomorrow in Ithaca, N.Y. (1 p.m.). The Big Red (27-5-1) beat Harvard, 2-1, on a power play goal with less than two minutes to play, giving them the ECAC title for the third time in four years.
Top seed Minnesota brings a perfect 37-0-0 record into quarterfinals, which begin tonight. The Golden Gophers drew eighth-seeded North Dakota. Boston College, which features scoring star Alex Carpenter (daughter of former NHL sniper Bobby Carpenter of Peabody) takes on Harvard, while Boston University meets Clarkson in the other matchups of this single-elimination tournament. The winners advance to the Frozen Four beginning March 24.
With a 20-1 record and 10 straight victories on her resume, Ciampa is having a spectacular season in the Lakers’ net. The CHA Goaltender of the Month for February is ranked seventh in the country in Division 2 for save percentage (.937), fourth in goals-against average (1.37) and second in winning percentage (.950).
After her dominating playoff performance, the 21-year-old Ciampa received the CHA Goalie of the Week award for the seventh time.