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FEATURE: From California to Hockey Valley for Women's Hockey

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By Alex Gilliland, Special to from the College of Communications
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - One would think a girl from ice-hockey deprived Orange County, California might have trouble fitting in as a member of the Penn State women's hockey team. But for freshman forward Micayla Catanzariti, three points through four games this season is all the proof she needs to prove she is fitting in just fine in Happy Valley.

8250590.jpegCatanzariti began playing hockey at an early age in a household dedicated to the sport. Her father played as a goalie and one of her younger sisters played hockey as well. In California, ice hockey was fairly low profile, but Catanzariti worked her way into the sport by way of roller hockey and eventually became the captain of the Anaheim Ducks club hockey team in 2010.

After a year with the Ducks, Catanzariti took her talents to Ohio's Gilmour Academy to prepare herself for collegiate hockey. As the season began, Penn State came calling with a unique recruiting pitch. Come play for us and you will play for the first Division 1 women's hockey team in Penn State history. Catanzariti fell in love with Happy Valley and committed to the program along with fellow Gilmour teammates Katie Zinn and Celine Whitlinger. Catanzariti said transitioning to Penn State alongside her teammates made the move an easy one.

Four games into the season, she is doing big things on the ice with two goals and one assist and her captain, junior forward Taylor Gross, is noticing that her hard work is paying off.

"She has had a big impact so far, especially in the first weekend," said Gross. "She has good vision of the ice and her intensity is always up so she has brought a lot to the team."

Head Coach Josh Brandwene echoed those same sentiments and said Catanzariti has great enthusiasm on both sides of the ice.

"She is relentless and she gives great effort every single shift, which is a very important thing," said Brandwene.

Catanzariti said her relentlessness stems from her love of the game and her passion for competition. The freshman added that she feeds off the excitement of being part of a program at Penn State that is receiving a lot of buzz and national attention.

"It's just an experience that a lot of people don't get to have," said Catanzariti. "We get to start traditions and set goals and start a whole program. It is an honor."

A lot of "firsts" come with the first Division I women's hockey season in Penn State history and one of those firsts is scoring a goal and the emotions that come with that moment. Catanzariti said scoring that first goal against Vermont in the first weekend of the season was an incredible feeling.

"Getting that first one was probably the coolest thing ever and so hopefully we can come back and get a few more this upcoming weekend," said Catanzariti.

The freshman forward has been a bright spot this season, and the Orange County native is looking forward to what the rest of the season has in store. Catanzariti made history with the second and third goal of the Penn State season and all things considered, the team is making history with every drop of the puck.    

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