POTSDAM There will be no better place to see NCAA Division I womens hockey than Clarkson Universitys Cheel Arena this weekend.
The Golden Knights are hosting the ECAC Hockey championship weekend and the event will feature four of the top seven teams in the U.S. College Hockey Online poll as well as five of the 10 finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Award.
Clarkson (27-4-5 overall) is the regular-season champion and top seed and will host Quinnipiac (22-5-9) in a semifinal at 1 p.m. Saturday.
The other semifinal features Harvard (23-5-4) against Cornell (22-5-4) at 4 p.m. and the championship game is set for 1 p.m. Sunday.
Its first time weve been the No. 1 seed before, so I think we just have to keep rolling with it and not worry too much about that, Clarkson defenseman Erin Ambrose said.
Were really excited. We know were going to get a good crowd coming out and a lot of support from not just the community but our students as well, Ambrose added. Its always nice to play here at Cheel, its easy, its convenient. We dont have to go anywhere. I think it will be a really good weekend and some really good hockey, thats for sure.
Clarkson, ranked third, is the highest-ranked team in the event. Cornell is ranked fifth, Harvard is sixth and Quinnipiac is seventh.
Ambrose, a sophomore with 13 goals and 35 assists, is one of the five finalists for the Kazmaier Award who will be playing this weekend. Joining her is teammate Jamie Lee Rattray, who ranks second in the nation in scoring with 28 goals and 29 assists.
Quinnipiac forward Kelly Babstock (19-30) is another finalist along with Cornells Jillian Saulnier (26-26) and Harvard goalie Emerance Maschmeyer (16-4-4, 1.62 goals-against average, .947 save percentage).
Clarkson went 1-0-1 against Quinnipiac this season. The Golden Knights defeated the Bobcats 3-0 on the road on Nov. 23 and tied the Bobcats 3-3 at Cheel Arena on Feb. 7. Quinnipiac struck for two goals in the first 3 minutes, 42 seconds of the third period in that contest to rally from a 3-1 deficit.
Its definitely going to be a tough game, Clarkson co-head coach Matt Desrosiers said. They play a tough style of hockey. They keep things simple but they work their butts off. It should be a pretty exciting weekend.
This will be Clarksons second straight trip to the conferences championship weekend with this current group of players. Last year the Golden Knights went down to Cornell and lost 4-2 to Harvard, falling behind 3-0.
You never know how ready you can be until you actually experience it, Clarkson senior Vanessa Gagnon said.
I think we learned a lot, we werent mentally there when we played Harvard last year, Gagnon added. Looking back now its the best thing that could have happened to us to get ready for this weekend.
Not only do Clarksons Mercer sisters look somewhat alike, they also have almost the same first name.
Carly, a senior, picked up a penalty in Saturdays game against Dartmouth that was really earned by her younger sister, Cayley, a sophomore.
Asked if she felt guilty that her older sister had to go pay for her error Cayley laughed and said, No, I dont.
Said Carly, I was a little ticked off thats for sure. I knew it wasnt me, but it didnt really occur to me until I was in the penalty box that they probably got the two of us mixed up.
Its been awesome (playing with her). This year has been so much fun having her on and off the ice. Its really made my senior year special.