Last weekend’s shutout losses against Syracuse left Penn State frustrated and disappointed. Since, head coach Josh Brandwene said the team has had a great week of practice and anxiously awaits the opportunity to get back to competing.
Brandwene said he is approaching this weekend’s games against Sacred Heart (2-2) just as any other because it is another 60 minutes of hockey. He also said the biggest thing the Nittany Lions’ women’s hockey team (1-3, 0-2 CHA) has to do in order to snap their three-game losing skid is to focus on their game plan.
“This is a resilient bunch,” Brandwene said. “I think the things that we need to do are to take care of business in our end, do an excellent job clearing the puck and continue to create scoring chances and capitalize on scoring chances.”
Forward Emily Laurenzi said the key to victory in the two games starting on Friday is having a strong defense because it will create those offensive opportunities and shots on the net, which the Lions have lacked so far this year.
In all four of the previous games, opponents have outshot the Lions. Defender Jordin Pardoski said improving this statistic has been an emphasis for the team this week.
Laurenzi said this game is different than the previous four because this is a game where she feels the team is not an underdog.
“I think we need to capitalize on that and show everyone who we really are, and this is a game we can do that in,” Laurenzi said.
Defender Lindsay Reihl saidthe Lions know what they have to do, and now they just have to apply it and play their best game.
Reihl also said the team has been working hard this past week, and it is important to just get on the ice against the Pioneers.
“We improved on a lot of things that we needed to improve on,” Reihl said. “[It’s] definitely important for us to get out there on Friday and show them what we got.”
The Pioneers are coming off a weekend sweep of ACHA club team Rhode Island, and head coach Thomas O’Malley said the games were huge for his squad.
“We had a sound weekend of hockey,” O’Malley said. “We played our systems. We utilized our strengths. With a good weekend of hockey, our team spirits were up big time.”
O’Malley said his team is hitting on every cylinder right now, and he hopes to continue that against the Lions. Although the two teams met last year, O’Malley said the Lions are a better squad now, and they are sound from the first to the last player.
The Pioneers’ coach also said in order to win, his team has to play from its end out because his team has the talent to win. He wants the Pioneers to utilize their speed because he said they are dangerous if they can get into the open ice.
“We have some kids that can really play,” O’Malley said. “I think as long as we play our very best and give ourselves every opportunity to win, we’re going to do it.”
As the Lions head to Fairfield, Reihl will be moving closer to home.
The Cheshire, Conn.,, native grew up less than an hour away from Sacred Heart and said friends and family will come to watch the teams square off.
She said her father, Rob, is her number one supporter and comes to all of her games. She said playing in front of supporters helps her game.
“He’s always there watching my games and just having him there helps,” Reihl said. “The additional family support this weekend will definitely be helpful.”