Forward Jenna Welch went down to block a shot on more than one occasion this past weekend and was slow to get up, but she played through the pain.
Goalie Nicole Paniccia said with a laugh in Saturday’s press conference that she owed Welch a Gatorade for her efforts.
Head coach Josh Brandwene called Welch a warrior in the Mercyhurst series and also commended forwards Micayla Catanzariti and Jill Holdcroft for their shot blocking.
“It is such a lift for the bench,” Brandwene said Saturday. “It is such a momentum changer. Those are the kind of things that we need to continue to do to be successful.”
Welch, along with the rest of the Lions, blocked 37 shots in two games against Mercyhurst on Feb. 1 and 2. The Lakers blocked 22 shots in that series. The Lions have blocked 394 shots and opponents have only blocked 249 against the Lions.
Paniccia said she always makes an effort to say, “Thank you,” to a teammate for blocking a shot because of how much it helps her.
“When people are in front, you can't see [and] it means a lot,” Paniccia said. “I'm so thankful. It's the best thing.”
Assistant coach Casey McCullion, who was a goalie for Holy Cross during her collegiate playing career, said the biggest thing about blocked shots is that they prevent the goalie from doing extra work and reduce the opportunity for the puck to find the back of the net in any way.
McCullion did not downplay the importance of shot blocking when she was between the pipes for the Crusaders.
“You always appreciate when your teammates are willing to sacrifice their bodies, because they don’t have the equipment on that you do, so they are risking some bumps and bruises,” McCullion said. “You always feel grateful when they do that.”
Catanzariti currently leads the Lions in blocked shots with 49, which is 12 more than defender Paige Jahnke, who is second.
The freshman forward said the blocked shots prevent critical rebounds, which the Lakers capitalized on last weekend. The Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., native also said the Lions’ defensive scheme helps with shot blocking.
“Positionally-wise, the D-zone that we run, we’re already set up to be there,” Catanzariti said. “When I get the opportunity, I just go for it.”
Catanzariti added that there are two techniques she uses to block shots. She either lays on her side or goes down on one knee to get in front of the puck. She said she prefers the one-knee approach because if she lays on her side, it is harder to get back up and cover more ice.
McCullion said the shot blocking will always be a part of the Penn State women’s hockey culture because it shows selflessness and willingness to do what it takes.
“We’re asking them to sacrifice their bodies a little bit and go for the good of the team and it shows the heart that the team has,” McCullion said. “I think that’s always going to be an important part of our team.”