The Nittany Lions’ first trip to Lindenwood as a Division I program got off to a rough start when the team bus blew a right rear tire on its way to BWI airport Thursday morning.
A replacement bus arrived about 45 minutes later and the team continued its trek to Missouri. The Nittany Lions look to avoid a similar rough patch when they start their weekend series with the Lions Friday.
Assistant coach Gina Kearns said the game is going to come down to a battle of goalies and who can outlast who. Kearns also said the Nittany Lions (4-7-1, 0-5-1 CHA) are looking for a high-energy contest and she is excited for a rivalry that could ensue with Lindenwood (0-10-0, 0-2-0 CHA).
“We’re looking forward to the chance to just build this rivalry and get one in the books against Lindenwood,” Kearns said.
Lindenwood coach Vince O’Mara said that even though it is a first-year program against a second-year program, the intensity level will be elevated this weekend.
“I think that the excitement level is going to be there just as if it was a Minnesota versus Wisconsin type game,” O’Mara said. “I think both programs mark these games on their calendars and are very excited to play this weekend.”
O’Mara said his team is battling a number of injuries and the Lions are going to have to call upon some of the players that do not get as much ice time to step up if they want to win.
Forward Shannon Yoxheimer, who had her seven-game goal streak broken last weekend against Robert Morris, said it is important to ride the momentum from the last period the Nittany Lions played through the rest of the week.
“I think it’s going take us buying into the new system that coach taught us this week,” Yoxheimer said. “Just if everybody kind of picks up from that third period with Robert Morris then we should be good to go.”
Head coach Josh Brandwene said Lindenwood is battle-tested because of the tough non-conference schedule it has played. That schedule included an opening weekend against No. 8 Ohio State.
Brandwene said he is looking forward to the challenge of playing the Lions and that his team worked on a number of different things in practice during the week.
“To be successful, you have to play a well rounded game and you got to do well at both ends of the ice and certainly special teams is a big part of that,” Brandwene said. “We’re looking to make some improvements there for sure.”
Kearns said the Nittany Lions are on an even playing field with Lindenwood because they have similar strengths and both teams are searching for their first College Hockey America win of the season.
Kearns also said it is important for the Nittany Lions to come out strong and not let the first road trip by plane to affect them.
“They have a year more experience than us, but it’s going to be telling for us to come out and get our bus legs, and our plane legs and our travel legs out of us and come out strong in that first period and set the tone,” Kearns said.