Goalie Nicole Paniccia said the Nittany Lions did not play “Penn State hockey” Tuesday against Princeton.
“To be honest, I don’t think today was our day,” Paniccia said after the game.
The Lions (7-17-1, 1-10-1 CHA) took only 19 shots, 10 of which came on the power play, and none of them found the back of the net during a 3-0 loss at the hands of the Tigers (7-12-2, 2-10-2 ECAC).
Princeton came out firing with strong offensive pressure and a number of close opportunities early on. Just 24 seconds into the game, the Tigers scored, but the goal was waved off because the referees ruled it was as a result of high-sticking.
The Tigers continued with their quality chances and had two close misses in the first period—one hit the crossbar and another ricocheted off the post. Eventually, the Tigers converted an opportunity when defender Karen MacDonald shot the puck off a faceoff in the Lions’ territory. Paniccia could not locate the puck in time and it went between her legs into the back of the net for the first score of the night.
Paniccia said she did not even know the puck was shot and saw nothing before it was in her net while head coach Josh Brandwene described the score as flukey.
“I don’t think anybody saw the puck for about nine, 10 seconds anywhere in the rink,” Brandwene said. “It’s like time stopped there for a couple minutes.”
After the intermission, the Tigers did not waste much time in the second period as there was a scramble in front of Paniccia and Princeton forward Sally Butler pushed the loose puck past Paniccia for a 2-0 advantage.
Brandwene called a timeout five minutes later and admitted he was fired up, but said he just told his team “stuff.”
Princeton added one more goal halfway through the third period when forward Molly Contini scored on a backhanded shot.
With the loss, the Lions have closed out their non-conference schedule and stare down a span of eight CHA games before league playoffs roll around.
No. 7 Mercyhurst is the Lions’ first opponent in the conference stretch beginning Feb. 1. The Lakers swept the Lions earlier in the season by a combined score of 12-1.
“I think our big takeaway moving forward is a continued effort at more consistency,” Brandwene said. “[There was] some really good effort for long stretches [and we are] looking to improve our consistency as we move into this next stretch of our schedule.”