NCAA Women’s hockey is a ton of fun to follow and produces some high quality hockey, but not everyone has the benefit of having gone to a Division 1 school or followed the sport since 2004. But I’m here for you!  From the CHA to the WCHA, here we go:

College Hockey America (CHA)

With Lindenwood and Penn State joining in the 2012-2013 season, the conference has entered a new era of stability and as of last season finally has an auto-bid to the NCAA Tournament which it assigns to its conference tournament champion.

The CHA has been dominated by Mercyhurst and I mean DOMINATED. In the CHA’s 13 seasons of existence the Lakers have; won 12 regular season titles, been crowned champions ten times, and only missed the finals once.

That said, times are changing. That one finals miss was last season which was also the first time the CHA sent a team other than Mercyhurst to the NCAA Tournament.

Lindenwood Lions




Home: Lindenwood Ice Arena (Cap. 1,000) – St. Charles, Mo.

Last Season: 10-21-2 (7-11-2); 5th CHA

Best Season: 2014-2015

Captain: Tae Otte #13

Best Returning Player: Shara Jasper #17 (11g, 16a)

Biggest Rival: The Lions are new to Division 1 and haven’t fared well enough to establish one. Until someone unseat’s them as Queens of the CHA, it’s Mercyhurst.

Brief: The Lions were a frequent ACHA frontrunner, winning four National Championships as a club team, but have understandably struggled in Division 1. Thinks are starting to look up though as they compiled their best overall winning percentage (.333), best overall goal differential (-45), and best conference goal differential (-19) last season.

2015-2016 Outlook: Fighting to stay out of the basement.

Mercyhurst Lakers



Home: Merchyhurst Ice Center (Cap. 1,500) – Erie, Pa.

Last Season: 23-9-3 (15-5-1); 1st CHA

Best Season: 2008-2009 – 31-6-0 (19-0-0); First CHA; CHA Tournament Champion; NCAA Tournament runner-up

Captain: Emily Janiga #4

Best Returning Player: Emily Janiga (27g, 18a)

Biggest Rival: It’s hard to say as Mercyhurst has so thoroughly dominated the CHA during it’s existence. The best bet is the team that has eliminated them from the CHA Tournament the past two years, the Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers.

Brief: For a long time Mercyhurst was a lock to run through the CHA and bow out in the first or second round of the NCAA Tournament. Now RIT has won the last two CHA Tournaments and Mercyhurst failed to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2003-2004. The Lakers are probably still the CHA’s best team, but they’re no longer miles ahead of the pack.

2015-2016 Outlook: Battling Syracuse, and possibly Penn State and Robert Morris for the conference crown.

Penn State Nittany Lions



Home: Pegula Ice Arena (Cap. 5,782) – University Park, Pa.

Last Season: 17-16-4 (9-9-2); 3rd CHA

Best Season: 2014-2015

Captain: Jordin Pardoski #4

Leading Scorer: Laura Bowman #18 (16g, 15a)

Biggest Rival: In-state Mercyhurst.

Brief: The Nittany Lions grew up fast, winning 2 conference games and 11 games overall combined in their first two seasons of Division 1 play before shattering those marks last year.  Penn State didn’t graduate any seniors either so the team makeup will be virtually the same.

2015-2016 Outlook: The Nittany Lions put together a solid winning percentage while getting out-shot most games. They’ll need to improve upon that if they want to take the next step.

Robert Morris Colonials




Home: 84 Lumber Arena (Cap. 1,200 – Moon, Pa.

Last Season: 11-19-5 (8-8-4); 4th CHA

Best Season: 2011-2012 – 19-9-4 (6-3-3); 2nd CHA; CHA Tournament Champions

Captain: Ashley Vesci #22

Best Returning Player: Mackenzie Johnston #26 (11g, 10a)

Biggest Rival: Mercyhurst

Brief: A perennial CHA doormat when they joined Division 1, the Colonials have climbed towards respectability in recent years, winning more conference games in the past three seasons (30), than in their first seven (20).

2015-2016 Outlook: The Colonials lost some, but not a significant amount of production in the offseason.  A mid-table finish is probably likely.

Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Tigers



Home: Gene Polisseni Center (Cap. 4,300) – Rochester, N.Y.

Last Season: 15-19-5 (5-12-3); 6th CHA; CHA Tournament Champions; First NCAA Tournament Big

Best Season: 2014-2015

Captain: Taylor Thurston #2, Jess Paton #27

Best Returning Player: Mackenzie Stone #14 (6g, 10a)

Biggest Rival: Mercyhurst

Brief: The Tigers were a Division III powerhouse, going 28-1-1 and winning a National Championship in their final season. They’ve largely brought that attitude to the CHA posting a 51-50-3 record in Division I and winning two Conference Championships in three years. The Tigers were a mystery last season, a decent team by some advanced metrics that just couldn’t win games until they ran through the the CHA tournament en route to the program’s first NCAA Tournament bid.

The Tigers might struggle to match that effort with significant losses to seniority including the scorers of 36 of the team’s 69 goals last season and starting netminder Ali Binnington.

2015-2016 Outlook: It might not be pretty, but they always seem to be in the mix.

Syracuse Orange



Home: Tennity Ice Skating Pavilion (Cap. 350) – Syracuse, N.Y.

Last Season: 11-15-10 (8-6-6); 2nd CHA

Best Season: 2012-2013 – 20-15-1 (13-6-1); CHA Tournament runner-up

Captain: Nicole Renault #2 (A)

Best Returning Player: Stephanie Grossi #8, (9g, 21a)

Biggest Rival: A brief history of who has knocked Syracuse out of the CHA tournament each year: Niagara, Mercyhurst, Mercyhurst, Mercyhurst, Mercyhurst, Mercyhurst, RIT.

Brief: Syracuse put together a solid season that came largely in spite of having one of the worst save percentages in the nation from their netminders. They were actually a slightly better possession team than Mercyhurst in the CHA and are a dark horse to win the conference. If only they had a decent building to do it in.

2015-2016 Outlook: Fighting for a CHA title