Josie Bothun Courtesy Art

Penn State goaltender Josie Bothun (30) during warm ups against Mercyhurst on Jan. 24, 2021. No. 9 Penn State defeated Mercyhurst 4-1. Photo/Craig Houtz

Coming off a disappointing end to the 2021-22 season, Penn State is ready to get back on the ice and prove it can compete with the best.

The Nittany Lions finished the regular season with an 18-10-5 record, a bit of a dropoff from the prior year after making such a big jump in competitiveness in 2019.

Penn State fell to Mercyhurst 4-2 in the first round of the CHA Tournament after going 3-1 against it in the regular season.

With that being said, this year’s 14th-ranked squad is ready to put that loss behind it. Here is a look at how the defenders and goalies stack up on this year’s roster.

Women's hockey vs. Mercyhurst, Gangarosa (13)

Defender Rene Gangarosa (13) skates toward the puck while chased by Mercyhurst player Summer-Rae Dobson (7) during the women’s hockey game against Mercyhurst at Pegula Ice Arena on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. The Nittany Lions defeated the Lakers, 2-0.

Defenders

The Nittany Lions return five defenders who provided significant contributions and played in every single game last season. They also added two freshmen to the mix in Leah Stecker and Kendall Butze.

Stecker was named All-State four times in high school and was also named the New Jersey Girls Ice Hockey Player of the Year in 2019-20. She will look to get on the ice immediately and make an instant impact in the rotation.

The stellar blue and white defense only surrendered 1.73 goals a game last season, the lowest mark in the CHA. However, it only averaged 9.82 blocked shots a game, which ranked last in the conference.

Senior Rene Gangarosa, ranks third in program history in points by a defender with 43. Gangarosa will look to add to that toal in her final season in Happy Valley. She also blocked 51 shots last year, which was best on the team and ranked ninth in the CHA.

Karley Garcia is a 5-foot-7 sophomore from California coming off a freshman campaign where she earned CHA All-Rookie team honors. She could prove to be a huge part of the defense’s success this season.

As mentioned above, Gangarosa led the team in blocks with 51 last year, but junior Lyndie Lobdell was right on her heels with 35. Lodbell was also named to the CHA All-Rookie team, while posting a +11 rating and appearing in every game last season.

In 2021-22, Mallory Uihlein set the program record for points in a season by a defender, scoring 19. She also became the fourth Nittany Lion to record three assists in one game, while being named first-team All-CHA.

Uihlein is one of the best defenders in the CHA, and she is back for more this season looking to add to her accolades and help the Nittany Lions to some victories.

Senior Izzy Heminger has amassed 41 points during her time in Hockey Valley. The Ohio native was named second-team All-CHA two seasons in a row, and she will be looking to finally break that barrier and earn first-team honors during her senior campaign.

Goalkeepers

The Nittany Lions enter the season with just three goalies on the roster, freshman Katie DeSa, and juniors Annie Spring and Josie Bothun.

DeSa was named an alternate on the 2022 USA U18 National Team, a high honor, and may very well be the future starter at the position in seasons to come.

Josie Bothun was the starter in goal last season for Penn State and should run it back this year.

Bothun made history when she became the first-ever Nittany Lion to win the USCHO Rookie of the Year during the 2020-21 season. She was also the recipient of Penn State’s first-ever Goaltender of the Year award in the CHA in the same campaign.

Bothun holds the Penn State records for wins and shutouts, both in a career and a single season. She had 35 saves in one game last year against Ohio State. Bothun will be an integral part in the team’s success this season, and it will go as far as she can take it.

The blue and white defense will look to build off of a record-setting 2021-22 season beginning with a series against Wisconsin on Thursday and Friday.

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