Thursday, September 19, 2013

CHA Coaches Poll Tabs Penn State Sixth

Hannah Hoenshell and her teammates will again try to prove the coaches wrong versus Mercyhurst

Several hours after the Big Ten coaches slotted the Penn State men last of six teams in that conference's preseason coaches poll, College Hockey America announced that its coaches had given the Nittany Lion women the same treatment.

Here are the full results of the poll:

  Team 1st Pts.
Robert Morris
Penn State

That now-familiar "established vs. not" split is reflected, with the three programs in NCAA Division I before 2011 making up the top three and the newer entries in the second half. Favored Mercyhurst is in their position for good reason - other than the 2012 CHA tournament won by Robert Morris, the Lakers have taken literally every regular season and playoff title in conference history, dating back to the 2002-2003 season. Last year, MU went 29-7-1 overall, beat Syracuse in the CHA championship game, qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the ninth consecutive year and took a quarterfinal victory from Cornell in overtime before falling to Boston University (PSU assistant coach Gina Kearns' alma mater) in the Women's Frozen Four.

The fact that PSU was voted into last place for the second consecutive season is far from stunning. The Nittany Lions are the most recent of the six CHA teams to gain NCAA status, and last year's inaugural NCAA and CHA group went 1-17-2 in the league and suffered a first-round CHA playoff sweep at the hands of RIT as part of a 7-26-2 overall record. Still, don't sleep on Penn State. Observers of the program and the CHA generally noted PSU's growth over the course of the season, as well as the way then-second year DI Lindenwood turned a corner late in 2012-2013 and started beating RMU, Syracuse and RIT after starting 3-36-1 against DI competition. With nearly the entire team back and an outstanding group of recruits thrown in, it's not crazy to think that Josh Brandwene's squad could be extremely dangerous as 2013-2014 progresses.

Penn State opens up October 4th at Vermont and returns home two weeks later to initiate Pegula Ice Arena on October 18th against Union. The first conference series is at home against Robert Morris on October 31st and November 1st.

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