There was a myriad of highlights throughout Penn State’s 6-1 romp of Sacred Heart on Saturday — like the team’s first three power play goals, which included captain Taylor Gross’ first score of the season — that it could be easy to miss a few details.
Hannah Hoenshell’s third period goal was one of those aspects of the game that may have flown under the radar, but it was nonetheless noteworthy.
After being sidelined through the Nittany Lions’ first four regular season games with an ankle injury, the freshman made her debut against Sacred Heart. She wasted no time in making a contribution to the Lions, putting them up 5-1 with her goal. The score was the team’s second unassisted goal of the season. The first came earlier in the same game by Jeannette Bateman.
“I think Emily [Laurenzi] had the puck, and it got hit off of her stick and into the boards, and I just took it off the wall and took it to the net,” Hoenshell said.
Hoenshell, playing on the right wing, said she didn’t notice if the goalie was in position to save the shot.
“I didn’t even look,” she said. “I just took a backhand shot.”
A hurt ankle kept Hoenshell from playing in the team’s first two series. Hoenshell said the injury occurred in a collision during practice, and the pain was intense enough to keep her on the bench.
Head coach Josh Brandwene said he enjoyed seeing Hoenshell make an impact in her first series back on the ice.
“[I was] incredibly happy for her. She’s worked really hard. She’s been incredibly patient,” Brandwene said. “She kept things really simple on Saturday, and she got rewarded for it.”
Hoenshell said she could not wait to get back on the ice and that her ankle feels great now.
Brandwene said Hoenshell’s hard work allowed her to heal quickly and be ready to perform when she was healthy enough to play again.
“When you have a good foundation, and you’ve put the work in over the summer, then you’re able to bounce back and hit the ground running, and she was able to do that,” Brandwene said.
Even though the goal was unassisted, Hoenshell’s line had strong chemistry. Jill Holdcroft, who was also on the ice for the goal, and Hoenshell both said they worked well together.
“It was fun,” Holdcroft said. “I liked Hannah coming back. It was exciting for her, so it was kind of fun to be out there.”
Holdcroft and Hoenshell said whether their line becomes a frequent fixture on the ice remains to be seen because adjustments are always being made.
As for the role of Hoenshell, who was on the team’s third line on Saturday, Brandwene said he hopes to see more performances like the freshman’s.
“We’re looking forward to keep working hard, doing a great job at both ends of the ice,” Brandwene said. “I’m pleased with what I’ve seen so far.”