After a roller-coaster ride of a season that culminated with a league conference title, the Penn State Lady Icers will make the trek to Kingston, R.I. this weekend to compete in the annual Eastern Collegiate Women’s Hockey League tournament.
While the team’s tournament berth will serve as a celebration of its season, it still feels as though it has unfinished business. After missing out on the cut for the American Collegiate Hockey Association tournament for the second straight season, one might imagine it would be difficult get motivated for the ECWHL tournament, but that is not the case.
“They were certainly disappointed, but as they’ve done all season, they’ve taken challenges and adversity and turned them into something positive, and that’s the Penn State way of doing things,” head coach Josh Brandwene said.
It seems as though Brandwene’s optimism has been infectious in the locker room, as well. Junior forward Lindsay Reihl believes the team’s absence from the ACHA tournament will serve as a major motivator this weekend.
Reihl said missing the ACHA tournament served as a motivator during its games this past weekend, and she said it will continue to push them in upcoming games.
Throughout the highs and lows of the season, it has become apparent that this Lady Icer team has each other’s backs. Brandwene harped on the fact of how close this team is.
“They have worked incredibly hard,” Brandwene said. “They’ve been willing to communicate with one and other, they’ve been willing to problem solve, and as a result, they are as close knit of a team as I’ve ever coached. And the credit goes to them for the willingness to put the work in.”
With the switch from club to Division I status looming next season, it is likely that the Lady Icers’ work ethic will continue to pay dividends.
The transition to Division I will undoubtedly be a challenge, but after their overtime victory over Division I opponent, Sacred Heart, the Lady Icers know they have the tools to succeed in the future.
There will be many uncertainties when the team makes the jump to Division I, but one aspect of the team that they can count on being the same is the head coach.
Brandwene was very direct in addressing his coaching style next year, sternly saying, “I am who I am.”
Between the combination of Brandwene’s never-ending optimism, and the team’s work ethic, Penn State has placed itself in the position to succeed this weekend and next season.
“Going in with being the playoff champs of the league, that would definitely be a big boost,” Reihl said of the upcoming ECWHL tournament. “I think it’s important for our team this year and next year.”