Penn State's inaugural season as a NCAA Division I program came to an end Saturday afternoon at Ritter Arena in Rochester, N.Y., as the Nittany Lions dropped a 3-2 overtime thriller to Rochester Institute of Technology in the College Hockey America playoffs.
The Lions opened the scoring when captain Taylor Gross buried a shot 9:56 into the first period. The early lead was short-lived however, as RIT's Celeste Brown leveled the score less than five minutes later. Outshot 16-4 in the game's opening frame, the Lions barely hung on to the tie skating into the first intermission.
Ninety seconds into period two, RIT took its first lead of the contest on a Jess Paton tally. Through two periods of play, the Tigers fired 38 pucks at junior netminder Nicole Paniccia. The Oakville, Ontario native had an answer for all but two of them, and the second intermission came with the home team boasting a 2-1 lead.
The Lions seemed determined to extend their season to Sunday's game three when Hannah Hoenshell's tying marker lit the lamp just 57 seconds into the final frame. The third period panned out much like the second, thought, as solid goaltending resulted in a stalemate. As the third period buzzer sounded foreshadowing a tense overtime period to come, there was hope for the Lions.
That hope was squashed when Kim Schlattman's rebound goal just 47 seconds into overtime ended the 2012-2013 campaign for Penn State. At game's end, the final shot tally was 57-19 in favor of the Tigers.
"It's so tough to lose close playoff games, because this group is such a competitive bunch," Penn State coach Josh Brandwene said in a phone interview after Saturday's game. "But this is something that will, down the road, be an incredible pay-it-forward experience for this group."
RIT will face interstate foe Syracuse in round two of the CHA playoffs.