The last thing a team attempting a comeback needs to do is get caught up in the current score of the game.
That is what Penn State did during the first game of its weekend series against defending College Hockey America champion Robert Morris. However, the team took on a noticeably different attitude in the second game.
After allowing four goals during the first period of Saturday's game, the Nittany Lions said they got lost in the deficit they were in, thwarting the chance for a comeback.
“We started playing the game on the scoreboard instead of on the ice,” head coach Josh Brandwene said after Saturday's 7-1 loss.
Brandwene said that the first half of the opening period was some of the best hockey the team had played all year. However, he called the next 50 minutes a “monumental struggle.”
Forward Emily Laurenzi said after the loss, the Lions did not sufficiently answer the early scoring by the Colonials.
“I don't think we responded so well,” the freshman said. “The first seven or eight minutes we came out really strong, and then we got down.”
Sunday's game was a much different story.
The Colonials took another early lead in the series finale. After starting off somewhat slower than on Saturday, they ultimately built up a 3-0 lead in the first period.
However, the Lions kept grinding away when the second period began. Goaltender Nicole Paniccia stopped every shot that she faced for the remainder of the game. The offense, sparked by a goal midway through the third period by Micayla Catanzariti, was playing with a higher level of intensity than on Saturday, nearly cutting the deficit to one goal.
“They stayed patient today,” Brandwene said after Sunday’s 4-1 loss. “When you stay patient, you give yourself an opportunity at the end, and you saw the result. We did a good job in the third period, we had them back on their heels for a large stretch of time.”
Brandwene said that rather than playing the scoreboard, the team played “the game” Sunday.
“They stuck to process the whole game today,” he said. “No matter what was presented to us in the first period, we stuck with the gameplan. The team stayed positive; they’re a great group, they’re a great family. Those are the types of things we can build on moving forward, and I’m looking forward to that.”
Defender Madison Smiddy said the team entered Sunday’s game with a more positive attitude.
“We went in thinking that we can play with this team, that just because they can put a few in, that doesn’t mean that we can’t compete with them,” Smiddy said. “We went in today with the mentality that no matter what the scoreboard says, we’re going to play as hard as we can…and play them as if they hadn’t scored anything, as if the score was 0-0.”
Catanzariti said the shift in mentality provided the team with a lesson to take away from the series.
“I think that we learned that we can’t focus on the score, and we just need to keep pushing and fighting,” she said. “And I think that’s one of the big things that came out this weekend.”