Penn State looked like a different team in its second game of its series against Chatham on Saturday.
This was not because of the game’s outcome — the Nittany Lions dominated both contests and ended in shutout fashion. The difference was literal, as coach Josh Brandwene replaced some of his top offensive threats for several new faces after his team coasted past the Cougars to a 10-0 victory the night before.
“It was sort of a situation that presented itself coming off of yesterday, and I thought the kids did a really good job adjusting with some line combinations they might not have seen before,” Brandwene said to reporters after Saturday’s game.
The roster movement allowed the Lions’ top four scorers — Shannon Yoxheimer (22 points), Taylor Gross (17), Jess Desorcie (14) and Hannah Hoenshell (10) — to take the night off. Despite the removal of so many weapons, the team still managed to fire more than one shot per minute of play — 71 in total — and won comfortably, 4-0.
“We got a great group here, and the attitude on the part of everybody on our roster is just fantastically supportive, and [I was] really pleased with the overall effort this past weekend,” Brandwene said after practice on Monday.
Among the new faces in Saturday’s line chart were Stephanie Walkom and Kate Christoffersen, who both had their first appearances of the season. Although neither scored, they combined for 7 shots, and Walkom finished with a plus-2 plus-minus rating.
Offensively, Katie Zinn was probably the most notable contributor that benefited from the extra playing time. Entering the game with one assist, she scored the first goal of the game, which was also her first goal of the season. She also added two assists.
Jenna Welch brought up the team’s depth and talent throughout the roster when talking about the second game of the series.
“We see it every day in practice,” said Welch, who scored two goals in Saturday’s win. “Everyone’s working so hard, but for them to get the chance to prove themselves… I’m just really proud of our team.”
The Lions’ usually start goaltender Nicole Paniccia, who was also given Saturday’s game off after playing in only one period the day before. Replacing her in net, freshman Celine Whitlinger was just as unbeatable, saving 12 shots before exiting midway through the final period.
Paniccia said she knew what it is like to be a freshman goalie, so she was happy to see her replacement succeed.
“It was kind of neat to be the older goalie and see [Whitlinger] go in and do well,” Paniccia said.
Whitlinger’s solid play between the pipes was also reassuring to Paniccia.
“It definitely takes the pressure off,” Paniccia said. “She’s a great goalie, and our team supports her 100 percent. Everybody has total confidence in her doing really well.”
Of those receiving more playing time than usual on Saturday, Brandwene did not name any particular performance that impressed him more than another. Instead, he praised the entire team’s effort.
“I think everybody did an outstanding job,” he said. “Overall, they were very patient [and] very poised throughout the course of the game.”