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Penn State women’s hockey looks to claim sole possession of 1st place against Syracuse

PSU Women's Hockey vs. Lindenwood, Zanon

Penn State forward Kiara Zanon (11) skates withe the puck while being followed by Lindenwood forward Kaitlin Finnegan (16) during the Penn State women's hockey game on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021 in University Park, Pa. Penn State defeated Lindenwood 4-1.

Penn State will make its return to the ice on Friday as it travels to New York to take on a familiar foe.

The Nittany Lions’ two-game series against Syracuse will be the first matchup between these two teams since the Orange ended the Nittany Lions’ season last year in the semifinals of the CHA Tournament.

Coming in as the top seed, the Nittany Lions were unable to complete the comeback after being down three goals early, despite then-freshman forward Olivia Wallin scoring two goals late.

That loss came after the Nittany Lions had gone 2-1-1 against the Orange during the regular season.

Fast forward to today and both teams enter this series in a tie for first place in the CHA with 3-1 conference records.

While that bad blood from last year’s defeat may be on the Penn State roster’s mind, coach Jeff Kampersal said he believes the current CHA standings hold more relevance when preparing for this series.

“I think just the fact that we're both in first right now that's probably more relevant to us,” Kampersal said. “That game, I think there's good lessons to be learned from it, we definitely prepared for it, we were ready but we did go off the tracks.”

After a rough start to the season where the Orange didn’t pick up a win until their sixth game, they’ve been rolling as of late, which includes their recent series sweep over RIT.

The final game of that series ended in a 7-0 Syracuse win where the Orange scored five goals in the second period alone.

Senior forward Abby Moloughney leads the way for the Orange, as she currently has an even six goals and six assists for 12 points on the season, and she leads the team in all three categories.

With an extra week of practice due to the bye week, the Nittany Lions have had more time to prepare for this series where, according to sophomore defender Lyndie Lobdell, the team focused on fixing patterns it picked up.

“A lot of structural things and just getting excited and ready to go,” Lobdell said. “Fixing little habits and trying to force those habits all the time, instead of practicing it once and being done with it, we keep going, and going and going until it's just a part of every way that we play.”

Like the Orange, the Nittany Lions have gotten hot during the start of conference play, as they have won three straight contests, including a series sweep over Lindenwood last time out.

During the sweep, junior forward Julie Gough was able to keep her scoring streak alive, extending her consecutive games with a goal scored to seven games.

She has accumulated 10 total points during her scorching couple of weeks.

That streak will be put to the test against a tough Syracuse team who Gough only found the back of the net against once during the Nittany Lions five matchups against the Orange last season.

Syracuse enters the weekend with a dominant all-time record of 28-4-7 against the Penn State program, and Kampersal noted the physicality the Orange play with as the biggest thing to prepare for ahead of the two squads’ first matchup of the season.

“Syracuse is also very physical, and the bye week gave us a lot of time to watch a few Syracuse games against Lindenwood, as well as RIT,” Kampersal said. “Trying to understand what they are trying to get done and see what we can do to prevent some of their things.”

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