|Jordan Chiavacci, Darian Dempsey, Lucy Yeatman, Anna Marcus and Cassie Dunne almost didn't get a senior day|
No, you won't be experiencing déjà vu this coming weekend, even if it seems that way.
Liberty, presently ACHA Division 1's top-ranked team, is set to visit Pegula Ice Arena on Friday, February 10th and Saturday, February 11th, at 9:00 p.m. on both days. The dates and times of the games have remained static for months, but the opponent has not: Northeastern was scheduled for those two slots until last week, Liberty is a last-minute replacement after the Huskies communicated that they would be unable to make the trip.
Penn State, meanwhile, will pick up a pair of forfeit wins over NU while, in essence, adding two bonus games to the schedule against LU. In terms of the Eastern Collegiate Women's Hockey League standings, that outcome all but locks PSU into third place, with fellow contender Vermont needing a sweep of No. 4 Massachusetts (which has already clinched the regular-season title) just to equal the blue and white's league mark. The third-place team will open the ECWHL playoffs in the semifinals against second-place Rhode Island.
Even with Liberty standing as one of D1's two independents and Northeastern being a member of Penn State's ECWHL, the Lady Ice Lions are actually more familiar with the former team.
Just over one week ago, of course, the always-contending Flames visited University Park and took 4-1 and 3-1 wins back home. Those results, nevertheless, were encouraging ones for the home side, which seemed to generate new energy and enthusiasm levels that weekend. Arguably, that spark carried over into this past weekend's series win against NCAA Division III's Lebanon Valley College.
On the Northeastern side, conversely, the development is hardly surprising. Back in October, NU forfeited a game in Boston when it was unable to secure a sheet of ice, costing the Lady Ice Lions a key opportunity for development and momentum during a tough early-season stretch. The teams did manage to come together once this season, on November 20th, with Rachel Cole grabbing a late winner at Matthews Arena. In the present situation, the Huskies very nearly blowtorched Penn State's final home games of the season, including its annual senior day.
Enter Liberty and head coach Paul Bloomfield, with an off weekend and a willingness to take a second road trip to the same place within three weeks on short notice.
So, while the opponent will be quite a bit tougher and while the ACHA and ECWHL will take a bit of a black eye from NU's issues, the show will go on as planned, sort of.
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