Setting the Scene
What: Bucknell Bison (5-7, 3-4 PL) at Lehigh Mountain Hawks (6-6, 3-4 PL)
Where: Ulrich Sports Complex (Bethlehem, Pa.)
When: Friday, April 21, 7 p.m.
Live Video: Patriot League Network and Twitter
Live Stats: LehighSports.com
-- The playoffs start early for Bucknell and Lehigh, as the two in-state rivals meet Friday night in Bethlehem in the regular-season finale with a Patriot League Tournament berth riding on the outcome. Bucknell and Lehigh enter the night tied for sixth place at 3-4, meaning the winner earns one of the six Patriot League Tournament berths, while the losing side will be eliminated from contention.
-- Five teams have already secured a spot in the postseason: Army West Point (6-1), Loyola (5-2), Boston University (4-3), Holy Cross (4-3), and Navy (4-4). Army hosts Loyola on Friday night in a battle for the No. 1 seed. Elsewhere, Boston University hosts Holy Cross for the right to be the No. 3 seed, and Colgate finishes up against Lafayette.
-- If the Bison defeat the Mountain Hawks, they will earn either the fourth, fifth, or sixth seed, depending on the outcome of other contests. They can climb as high as fourth with a victory at Lehigh, along with wins by Loyola and Holy Cross. If Lehigh wins, it will be awarded the sixth seed. The Bison have competed in the Patriot League Tournament in each of the past 10 seasons.
-- Bucknell will be looking for its second straight victory after defeating Lafayette 11-7 last weekend. After falling behind 5-2 early in the third quarter, Bucknell scored nine of the next 10 goals to earn the victory.
-- Witzal was named Patriot League Faceoff Specialist of the Week on Monday. He has a .553 faceoff-win percentage on the season and has recorded 67 ground balls. He has gone 31-for-39 on faceoffs over the team’s past two games. Witzal needs three faceoff wins to become the third Bison to record 300 in a career.
-- This will be the second straight season in which Bucknell and Lehigh compete in the regular-season finale. Bucknell has won its final regular-season game in each of the past two seasons.
-- Seven different games this season have been decided by two goals or less. The average margin on the season for Bucknell is 2.9 goals.
-- Bucknell remains in the top 25 nationally in both man-up offense and man-down defense. It has scored on 41.2% of its opportunities and have allowed opposing goals only 28.3% of the time.
-- The Bison are third in the Patriot League in saves per game (11.3) and fewest turnovers per game (13.5).
-- Will Sands has had a record-setting junior campaign. He is second in the conference with 60 points and second in the nation with 41 assists. His 41 assists are second in program history for a single season, and his 85 career assists are fifth-most for a Bison. Sands’ 166 career points are seventh-most for a Bison. He had scored at least four points in every game this season until last week at Lafayette, when he was held to three points on two goals and an assist.
-- O’Hara and Sean O'Brien have provided the goal-scoring punch for the Bison, and they rank second and third in the Patriot League with 2.50 and 2.17 goals per game, respectively. O'Hara has reached the 30-goal mark for the first time in his career, while O'Brien also has a career-high with 26 goals.
-- Goalie Christian Klipstein has made 134 saves in his 12 starts, including 12 in a win over Lafayette last weekend.
-- Defenders Gilray and Benny Borgognone share the team lead 14 caused turnovers each. Gilray (41) and Brad Dotson (33) each have more than 30 ground balls. Dotson also scored his second goal of the season last week at Lafayette.
-- Lehigh brings a 6-6 overall record and a 3-4 mark in the Patriot League. The Mountain Hawks have split their past eight games, and most recently fell 16-11 at Cornell. Lehigh has a pair of top-20 wins this season, beating No. 16/18 Boston University 10-6 on Apr. 1, and No. 13/14 Princeton 15-10 on Apr. 11.
-- Senior Night will be held for the Mountain Hawks, who will be playing against their first Patriot League opponent in their last three games.
-- Lehigh has not been a part of many close games this season, as only two its 12 contests have been decided by fewer than four goals.
-- Defensively, Lehigh ranks third in the Patriot League in save percentage (.519) and caused turnovers (103).
-- Offensively, it is tied for the second-most assists per game in the conference with 7.0 per game.
-- Both teams will be looking to take advantage of man-up situations. Lehigh and Bucknell are ranked first and second in man-up scoring percentage in the Patriot League. Bucknell also commits the most penalties per game, with Lehigh close behind in second.
-- Tristan Rai, Andrew Pettit, and Matt Raposo all have recorded more than 30 points for Lehigh this season, with Pettit leading the team and conference at 31 goals.
-- Freshman Connor Gaffney will be competing at the faceoff circle, bringing his .618 faceoff percentage to the contest. He also leads the conference with 8.20 ground balls per game.
-- Craig Chick’s 35 caused turnovers are most in the Patriot League.
Series History with Lehigh
-- Bucknell is 36-14 all-time against Lehigh, dating back to 1969.
-- The Mountain Hawks had won four in a row from 2012 to 2014, but the Bison have won the past three meetings since 2015.
-- Last year, Bucknell earned a 15-7 victory over Lehigh in the regular-season finale. Sands led the squad with six points on two goals and four assists, while Quinn Collison and Tommy O'Connor registered two goals each. Witzal won a program record 22 faceoffs on 24 opportunities.
-- If Bucknell wins against Lehigh, it will secure a spot in the Patriot League Tournament. The quarterfinals begin on Tuesday, April 25 at home sites.