Mercyhurst Lakers' Killer Bs: Bestland, Bram and Byrne

Mark StaffieriContributor IIJanuary 11, 2013

Left to right: Team captain Christine Bestland and sensational sophomores Shelby Bram and Molly Byrne (Images by Jennifer White, courtesy of Mercyhurst Athletics)
Left to right: Team captain Christine Bestland and sensational sophomores Shelby Bram and Molly Byrne (Images by Jennifer White, courtesy of Mercyhurst Athletics)

Following in the footsteps of legendary players Meghan Agosta, Vicki Bendus, Bailey Bram and Jesse Scanzano, the current crop of Mercyhurst Lakers stars proves that a great future lies ahead for the nationally dominant program. Like the Duke Blue Devils in NCAA Basketball and the USC Trojans in NCAA Football, the Lakers have a remarkable ability to develop elite talent.

Quickly becoming the favorite to go first overall in the 2014 CWHL Draft, Christine Bestland has emerged as the prime offensive weapon on a talent-deep Lakers squad. Having ended her sophomore season as a member of the NCAA 100-point club, Bestland is showing no signs of slowing down.

An All-CHA First Team selection in 2012, she ended her sophomore season with a 58-point performance. In the first half of the 2012-13 campaign, Bestland has already recorded 40 points to sit atop the CHA scoring race. If she can maintain the superlative momentum, she will be on pace to top the 80-point plateau. Bestland has been scoreless in only three games during the first half, and her 2.22 points per game places in her the top 10 nationally.

During the first series of the season (Sept. 28-29), Bestland recorded a sparkling seven points combined versus the newly promoted Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers, who had won the 2012 NCAA Division III Frozen Four. Bestland would record her best performance in a November 2 triumph over the Lindenwood Lady Lions. With a hat trick, complemented by three assists, she was involved in all six goals, as Mercyhurst prevailed by a 6-1 tally.

The younger sister of Canadian national team member (and NCAA 200-point club member) Bailey Bram, Shelby had the opportunity to play with her sister during the 2011-12 Mercyhurst season. Although she only logged 21 points in her freshman campaign, Bram has shown no sophomore slump during the 2012-13 season. With 18 points in the first half, she is on pace to set career highs in all offensive categories.

She has already set new highs in power play goals with two and logged a game-winning goal. A key aspect in the improvement of her collegiate game is the fact that she has only served four penalties, a great sign of progress. Despite being held pointless in seven games this season, Bram managed five multi-point games.

Her finest performance came in an October 26 performance versus the Minnesota State Mankato Mavericks. In an 8-1 whitewash, Bram contributed four points (on one goal and three assists). Ironically, the first point of Bram’s NCAA career came against the Mavericks the season before (a 5-4 win on October 8, 2011).  

Hailing from Plymouth, Minnesota, Molly Byrne has added a new dimension to the Mercyhurst offensive attack. The sophomore is an alumnus of Shattuck-St Mary's, the same prep school that produced Sidney Crosby, Alexis Crossley and the Lamoureux twins. An offensive-minded defender, Byrne was named to the 2012 CHA All-First Team and All-Rookie team. She averaged one point per game, while leading all freshmen with an astounding 34 points.

This season, she is on pace to eclipse the 50-point mark. In four games, she has logged at least three points (the most recent being against Penn State on December 1). Her 23 points (on seven goals and 16 assists) leads all defenders in the conference. Of her seven goals in the first half, five were power-play markers (tied for the conference lead), while one was a game-winning tally. More impressively, she is tied with Christine Bestland for first in the conference in power-play points with 16.