The level of physicality seen from both teams set Thursday night's 4-1 loss slightly apart from previous Penn State contests.
With bodies from both Penn State and the Rochester Institute of Technology constantly hitting the ice, “physical” is a word that would accurately describe the schools' first showdown with each other.
“That's definitely what I expected,” sophomore Jess Desorcie said. “It wasn't the outcome we were looking for, but we played our hardest and we have some things to work on for tomorrow.”
RIT set the tone of the game early in the opening period. The first penalty committed by the Tigers came about twelve minutes into the game, but it was followed by three more trips to the penalty box before the period ended.
The Nittany Lions were able to avoid penalties and only committed one in the first period. However, they were penalized three times in the second period and were responsible for the game's final four penalties.
Desorcie said the penalties committed in the third period slowed the team's offense down a little, but a comeback was still possible because of the Lions' own strong penalty kill.
Each team ended the game with eight two-minute minors. Both teams’ coaches said that the aggressive style of play seen on the ice should be typical for most Conference Hockey America matchups.
“That's Division I hockey,” Josh Brandwene, Penn State's head coach, said. “It's physical, it's intense. You've got two competitive teams, league play, it's part of the game.”
RIT's head coach, Scott McDonald, also had similar things to say after the game about the intensity on the ice.
“That's the way it should be. That's the way we play,” McDonald said, adding that the amount of penalties did not bother him too much.
“I think as a conference game, [with] two teams looking to get their first wins in-conference, that's where the intensity should be.”
The amount of penalties – which totaled 32 minutes, more than half of a game – gave both power play units plenty of opportunities.
The Tigers converted on two of their eight tries on the advantage, including Katie Hubert's second goal of the game, the eventual game-winner.
However, Shannon Yoxheimer was the only Lion able to capitalize on special teams, with her first period goal. In the second and third periods, the Lions had five power plays but took no shots on goal during any of them.
“I think we need to get [the puck] out of our zone better, connect more passes, and just really connect as a team,” Yoxheimer said. “That's going to help us be successful on the power play.”
As for the physical play, McDonald has even higher expectations for Friday's series finale.
“I think it will be even more [physical] tomorrow,” McDonald said. “It should be, where Penn State's still looking for their first win at home, and they'll be coming out fired up and ready to play tomorrow.”