Women's Hockey, Union, head coach Jeff Kampersal

Head coach Jeff Kampersal talks to his players during the game against Union College at Pegula Ice Arena on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017. Penn State tied Union College 1-1.

Freshman Olivia Wallin leads the No. 8 ranked Penn State Nittany Lions with nine goals.

She is also fourth in penalty minutes, with 10 minutes spent in the sin bin.

Each and every game for the Penn State winger, she brings a level of intensity that always appears on the scoresheet, whether it be good or bad.

But more often than not, her grit is a good thing.

She is one of the many reasons that this year’s Penn State team is ranked in the top ten in the country, using her speed and shots to give the blue and white crucial goals and boosts of energy when needed.

The Ontario, Canada, native is no stranger to the intensity that rivalry games can be. While playing her final two years before collegiate hockey in the PWHL, Wallin combined for 78 goals and 70 penalty minutes in 76 games, playing against elite level talent across a country known for its high intensity youth hockey.

Case in point, her game-tying goal against Robert Morris on Friday came at a time where the Nittany Lions were reeling. Having surrendered an early goal, Penn State was not generating the physical presence they had created earlier in the year.

But Wallin took advantage of a defensive mishap by Robert Morris and buried a slap shot from the high slot, knotting the score at one.

In a remarkably similar fashion on Saturday, she chipped it by a Colonial defender and scored on the same shot she had a day earlier, giving the Lions a lead they would not relinquish.

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Saturday’s goal was particularly important, given that she had just been whistled for tripping minutes earlier, and spent time in the penalty box.

Her penalty nullified the Nittany Lions player-advantage, resulting in 4-on-4 play, which Robert Morris converted on.

But her goal “was one of the better goals that I’ve seen, maybe ever,” according to coach Jeff Kampersal, who praised Wallin’s ability to settle it down and get a shot off that is only achieved by shooting pucks routinely in a basement or street.

“As long as she stays competitive — she has to eliminate penalties — but that grit she brings, we’ll take that, as well as that unbelievable goal,” Kampersal said.

Wallin too spoke of her play in Saturday’s game, noting that “[she] took a stupid penalty, and that made [her] angry.”

That anger stayed with her for the next eight minutes, until she blew by a defender and ripped a shot past Robert Morris goaltender Raygan Kirk.

Wallin’s style of play is crucial to her team’s success. In both contests against Robert Morris, her playmaking ability ramped the energy on the bench, giving the team a boost after falling behind early in both games.

While her goals are always welcome to a team hungry for postseason success, Wallin has scored at opportune moments all year, giving the Nittany Lions some much needed energy in crucial turning points.

Of her eight goals, two have been the first in their games, two have been game-winners and one has been a game-tying goal.

Scoring goals when her team needs someone to step up, Wallin has demonstrated a valuable veteran trait for a freshman player.

As Penn State looks to build its winning streak against RIT in two days, it will look to its freshman difference-maker in Wallin to provide more intensity for its late-season run.

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