While the date and opponent of the first women's hockey game of the 2013-2014 campaign is yet to be determined, the roster with which the team will play with in its inaugural season inside Pegula Ice Arena was announced on Sunday.
Fifteen of the unprecedented 17 freshmen who made Penn State's first ever Division I roster last season will return for a sophomore season. Defender Taylor McGee and forward Katie Zinn transferred.
The roster also reflects last November's four recruit signings with Williamsville, N.Y., defender Kelly Seward and three products of the infamous Minnesota high school hockey gauntlet: forwards Sarah Neilsen, Amy Petersen and Laura Bowman.
Petersen and Bowman are former linemates who propelled Minnetonka High School to three consecutive Minnesota state championships.
Naturally, with an NCAA season under their belt, the Nittany Lions will enter the program's second season a more experienced squad, especially on the blueline, where veteran defender Lindsay Reihl will return as a graduate student.
Except the incoming freshman, Seward, all eight Penn State defenders will have at least a year of collegiate experience.
The first season under the Pegula Ice Arena roof will also be the last for senior netminder Nicole Paniccia, whose strong play in between the pipes helped backstop a youthful and occasionally sloppy team in 2012-2013. Paniccia will likely be the team's go-to goaltender with sophomores Celine Whitlinger and Brooke Meyer battling for backup minutes.
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.
Penn State’s defense played its best game in several weeks statistically, but the offense could not deliver in the team’s first ever postseason game.
RIT needed only one goal to put the Nittany Lions away, 1-0. The win put the Tigers in the driver’s seat of the best-of-three series; with another win on Saturday, they will advance to the next round of the CHA Tournament.
The Lions did not allow their CHA Tournament opener to get out of hand, despite trailing in shots to the Tigers, 35-16. However, Marissa Maugeri’s even-strength goal in the middle of the opening period was all it took to give the Tigers the win.
In a game relatively low on penalties, the Lions had their best chance to tie the game up in the final period. Both of the Tigers’ penalties were committed in the last 20 minutes of play, but the Lions took only one shot during their two trips on the power play.
The Lions have to win in Saturday’s game, which begins at 2 p.m., to keep their season alive. If they tie the series up, one more game will be played between the two teams on Sunday.
Penn State was on the right track after 20 minutes but could not string together three successful periods and suffered a 4-1 road loss to Robert Morris on Friday night.
The Colonials (12-14-3, 8-10-1 CHA) entered the contest winning only two of their 14 games since regular season action resumed at the beginning of the calendar year. After one period, it appeared possible that the Nittany Lions (7-23-2, 1-16-2 CHA) could break a skid of their own, taking a 1-0 lead on the strength of a goal by center Emily Laurenzi.
The Lions' defensive effort held the shutout until about halfway through the game. But Rebecca Vint, who now leads the Colonials in goals and assists with 15 apiece, knotted the game up at the 10:22 mark of the second period. Minutes later, Dayna Newsom tallied a powerplay goal for the Colonials to take the lead.
The second period comeback was fueled by the team's 30 shots to the Lions' five. The Lions, who were ultimately out-shot 63-14 on the night, managed to take only four shots in the final stanza to cement the defeat.
The Lions are now 0-11-1 since their last win, which wrapped up a sweep of Chatham at home on Jan. 5. They play the Colonials again at 3 p.m. on Saturday in their final game of the regular season
Graham Pepperman's contributions to the women's hockey team aren't as easy to measure as goals or assists. But the Penn State alum has an important role in making sure the Nittany Lions are ready to perform at the best of their abilities each game.
Pepperman's responsibilities include sharpening skates, cleaning uniforms and fixing up any other piece of equipment that a player may need adjustments to. In this video, Pepperman explains his procedure for making skates' blades sharp and ready to go.
Check out women's hockey reporter Matt Nestor's full storyon Pepperman's responsibilities as an equipment manager.
Rochester Institute of Technology scored a goal in each period of Friday's game to knock off Penn State, but all the Tigers needed on Saturday was their second period performance.
The teams were scoreless after one period of play Saturday, but the Tigers (14-13-5, 7-6-5 CHA) netted three goals in the second frame to blank the Nittany Lions (7-22-2, 1-15-2 CHA), 4-0, en route to sweeping the series.
RIT forward Kim Schlattman got the scoring started when she found the back of goalie Nicole Paniccia's net just over two minutes into the second period. Just over 10 minutes later, fellow Tiger forward Marissa Maugeri added a goal of her own. After assisting Maugeri's goal, Erin Zach scored the Tigers' third goal with just over a minute left in the frame.
Before the final buzzer sounded, RIT forward KourtneyKunichika joined the scoring party to make the final score 4-0.
Although the Lions got their lone goal in Friday's game on the powerplay from forward Taylor Gross, the team could not capitalize on any of the Tigers' five penalties Saturday.
The Lions will close out the regular season when they travel to Robert Morris for a two-game set. The Colonials swept the Lions earlier in the year when the two squads met at Greenberg Ice Pavilion in November.
After the last women's hockey game played at Greenberg Ice Pavilion, coach Josh Brandwene, who played for the men's club team from 1987-1991, said there is not a finer group of people he would rather have spent his last game with at the arena than the Penn State women's hockey team.
In the final matchup before Penn State moves to Pegula Ice Arena, the Nittany Lions (7-20-2, 1-13-2 CHA) and Lindenwood (4-24-3, 4-9-3 CHA) battled back and forth the entire contest, which resulted in a 3-3 draw.
Much like in the first game of the series, the Lions jumped out to an early lead, but the Lindenwood countered. Forward Shannon Yoxheimer notched her thirteenth goal of the season when she went top shelf on Lindenwood goalie Nicole Hensley.
The lead lasted just over three minutes because Lindenwood forward Alison Wickenheiser received a cross-crease pass from fellow forward Allysson Arcibal and Wickenheiser put it in the back of goalie Nicole Paniccia's net for the tie.
Both teams also scored goals in the second period. The Lions wasted little time in the frame when forward Birdie Shaw scored her second goal of the season, but Lindenwood answered late in the period with a goal by forward Lyndsay Kirkham.
Midway through the second frame, the Nittany Lions killed off four straight penalties before Kirkham scored. Brandwene said after the game that he was proud with the penalty killing unit and noted how far it has come since the beginning of the season.
Following suit with the first two periods, Penn State scored early. Just five minutes in, forward Jill Holdcroft nailed home a rebound off of a Jordin Pardoski shot taken near the blue line. Lindenwood waited until only 42 seconds remained in the game to tie it when Arcibal also put a rebounded shot in the back of the net.
Paniccia said she thought Penn State played better than Friday's game and the Lions will build off of it, but she also noted how tough it was to have the win slip away late.
“It sucks,” Paniccia said. “It's not fun, but...I'm really proud of my team.”
The goal came with some controversy as Brandwene attempted to call a timeout before the faceoff that lead to Arcibal's goal, but he was denied the stoppage in play.
Brandwene said he did not know why he was rejected the timeout.
“Anybody ever seen that before?” he asked in his press conference following the tie. “I'm still a little bit confused myself...all I know is we battled hard.”
Brandwene and the Lions will close out the regular season with two consecutive away series. Penn State travels to RIT next to take on the Tigers for a two-game set. In the series played at Greenberg in October, the Tigers took game one, but the two teams battled to a tie the next night.
Brandwene said he likes the place his team is in, especially relative to Friday's game with the Lindenwood.
“The thing that I'm most proud of this team for is their resiliency,” Brandwene said. “No matter what they get handed, no matter what the scenario, they get right back up. They make it their business to improve.”
Penn State women's hockey head coach Josh Brandwene addressed the media after Saturday's loss at the hands of No. 7 Mercyhurst, 4-1. Brandwene discussed the importance of blocked shots and what they mean for his team.
Although it was decided by three goals, Friday night's contest between conference opponents Penn State and No. 7 Mercyhurst was just as intense as most one-goal games.
The conference-leading Lakers (20-5-1, 11-2-0 CHA) ultimately won, 5-2, but the Nittany Lions (7-17-1, 1-11-1 CHA) never backed down and kept the game interesting until the final whistle.
Christine Bestland registered a hat trick for the Lakers and began the game's scoring with a score from a rebound. Celine Whitlinger, in net for the Lions instead of the usual Nicole Paniccia, conceded another rebound less than five minutes later.
Despite giving up the five goals, Whitlinger had a solid performance between the pipes, recording a career-high 59 saves.
After heading into the first intermission down 2-0 and trailing in shots on goal 30-3, the Lions came back swinging in the second stanza.
Following a third Lakers goal, Hannah Hoenshell picked up her eighth goal of the season and the team's first of the game to get the Lions on the scoreboard. A Mercyhurst penalty was assessed after the goal, and there were still signs of life in the Lions.
However, the brief rally was derailed when the Lions were called for four penalties during the final 12 minutes of the period.
Overall, both teams combined for a whopping 17 penalties - the Lions were given nine, while the Lakers were called for eight. Six of the Lakers' penalties came in the final period, which featured nine total trips to the penalty box between the two teams.
The penalties were not the only instances of aggression on the ice, though.
Plenty of small shoving matches followed whistles throughout the game, even as the Lions fell behind 5-2 in the third period after Bestland's third goal. Involved in several of those instances was freshman Jordin Pardoski.
“Today was definitely a physical game for both teams,” Pardoski said. “I think both teams were really amped up, especially our team, and we're just ready to go and we're ready for tomorrow.”
Pardoski also tallied the Lions' second goal at the 6:27 mark of the third period on a power play.
But Lakers' goaltender Stephanie Ciampa stopped the other 17 shots the Lions fired throughout the game and preserved yet another victory for the conference powerhouse.
The two teams will meet again at Greenberg Ice Pavilion on Saturday to finish up their two-game series. The puck is scheduled to drop at 2 p.m.