Capping off a weekend sweep of the Chatham Cougars, the Nittany Lions began 2013 with their most offensively dominant weekend of the season.
While the scoreboard may not have been as lopsided as Friday night’s 10-0 rout, Penn State was every bit in control in Saturday’s 4-0 victory, outshooting the Cougars 71-16.
Chatham, a Division III opponent who freshman forward Katie Zinn suspected “knew what to expect”, took a more passive defensive approach to its game after allowing 48 shots and 10 goals Friday night.
“[Chatham] packed in very tight. There was very little room in front of the net,” Penn State coach Josh Brandwene said.
With the Cougar forwards and defenders collapsed in front of their goaltender, the Nittany Lions turned the offensive zone perimeter into a shooting gallery.
“We had a lot of outside shots. Have to give credit to their goalie,” Jenna Welch said.
Zinn’s first collegiate goal started the scoring at 5:07 into the first stanza, when her wrist shot beat Chatham netminder Kaitlynn Smith low to the shortside.
Despite cycling the puck on what seemed like a continuous powerplay, Penn State would not find the back of net again until Welch buried a rebound at the side of the net just under two minutes into the second period.
Firing 71 shots on goal in a 60 minute hockey game is enough to impress any coach, but it was the team’s patience that was most impressive, Brandwene said.
“We had a ton of time out there,” Welch said.
And, when a team is given ample time and space on the ice, it’s only a matter of time until the red goal light is pulsing on and off.
Midway through the third period, Welch added her second of the night, followed by a tally from Jill Holdcroft less than a minute later.
With a four-goal advantage, powered by Welch’s pair of scores and Zinn’s three-point night, the Lions moved the puck around the zone with unfaltering efficiency, until the final buzzer sounded on their first weekend of the new year.
There are plenty of positives to focus on from the triumphant weekend, but Brandwene emphasizes a more practical philosophy.
“We’re stressing living in the present,” the coach said. “Our job every day is to get better, so we’re playing our best hockey come playoff time.”
Brandwene added with a sly grin, “Because anything can happen in the playoffs.”