Ask Margot Page, and the Niagara women's hockey coach will tell you that any loss is frustrating.
Still, there's got to be something especially frustrating about Mercyhurst.
Niagara was 1-8-1 against the Lakers in its previous 10 meetings, and this weekend the Lakers yet again held the upper hand.
After the teams skated to a 2-2 tie Friday night, Mercyhurst used a relentless forecheck in the third period to put away a 1-0 win Saturday afternoon in front of 263 in Dwyer Arena.
"They did a really good job of backing out and trapping us," Page said. "We didn't do a good job of finding space and finding sticks to be able to move the puck up. . . . Our passes weren't on, weren't clicking, but they did a very good job of clogging up the middle, reading off our passes, jumping on loose pucks, so you have to give a lot of credit to them."
The Lakers used a goal by former Niagara player Teresa Marchese at the 9:56 mark of the second period to secure the win. Marchese streaked down the left side and picked her shot in the upper right hand corner to cleanly beat freshman goaltender Nikki Rudy.
"We haven't been scoring as many goals as we'd like to," said Mercyhurst coach Mike Sisti. "But late in games we've really been doing a great job of finishing games off, and today it was just great grit by all our players. . . . I thought our girls just really wanted to win really bad and did all the little things down the stretch. When we watch the tape, I would almost guess that it would be textbook stuff as far as protecting a lead late in the game."
Niagara got a solid performance from Rudy, who recorded 45 saves. Mercyhurst went 0 for 6 on the power play while generating 17 shots.
"I've got a good team in front of me, so they made my job really easy," Rudy said. "We definitely communicate a lot really well down low. It seems to work."
The Purple Eagles had difficulty finishing their plays. Though they generated 30 shots on goal -- twice as many as Friday night -- they couldn't beat Desi Clark, the College Hockey America Preseason Player of the Year. Niagara had plenty of solid chances, the best early in the second period when Charde Hoyle-Levy's shot hit underneath the cross bar and bounced out. On several of their eight power plays, the Purple Eagles moved the puck well and, but for a bounce here or a step too late there, would have tied the game.
In the big picture, the problem plaguing the Purple Eagles early in this season is inconsistency.
"We need to put together 60 minutes, and that includes a lot of things," Page said. "That includes good, smart, focused play. That includes battling, communication, it involves a lot of things. . . . You see it in spurts where, my God, we're just moving the puck so well and we're forechecking and creating turnovers so well, and it's because we're moving our feet and communicating and hungry for the battles and helping each other out."
Ranked ninth in the latest national polls, Mercyhurst (6-2-2, 3-0-1) remains the runaway favorite to win the CHA, though Niagara (2-5-1, 0-1-1) travels to Erie, Pa., for a weekend rematch Jan. 28-29.