Sean Flanery, GoPSUsports.com Student
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's hockey team (4-7-1) dropped two games this past weekend to the defending College Hockey America champions and in-state opponent Robert Morris (5-2-1).
The Nittany Lions held a two-game winning streak coming into the weekend series versus the Colonials of Robert Morris, but offensive struggles for the Lions would prove to be costly. Despite losing 7-1 and 4-1, on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, Penn State head coach Josh Brandwene described what took place during the third period of Sunday's game, as a major turning point for the Penn State women's hockey program.
Both games over the weekend got off to fairly similar starts with both teams coming out of the gates with matched intensity, but with Robert Morris finishing plays on the offensive end. The Colonials led the Nittany Lions after the first periods by a score of 4-0 on Saturday and 3-0 on Sunday, but what would happen in the second period of Sunday's bout would prove to be a turning point in the season.
In the second period of Saturday's game the Nittany Lions came back out on the ice with a lack of resiliency and focus. However, it would be a different story entirely during the second period of Sunday's contest. The Blue and White came out on the ice with intensity similar to what they had displayed at the beginning of the game, as if the score was knotted at zero.
Head coach Brandwene described the team's collective attitude as a direct result of playing the game rather than focusing on the scoreboard, much like they had done in the day prior.
"I think the second period we did a real good job of staying patient and it's not an easy thing to do," said Brandwene. "We went from playing the scoreboard (on Saturday) to playing the game (on Sunday), and when you play the game, good things happen. We got a lot better as a hockey team, both through the second period with the little things and then really with a lot of big things during the third period."
The Nittany Lions would go on to finish the second period with the score unchanged, still trailing, 3-0. Although the Lions failed to get on the board, they kept the game within reach and that would provide the team with a lot of confidence going forward. Freshman forward Micayla Catanzariti said in between the second and third periods the team knew that they could compete with the defending CHA champions.
"In between the periods, we talked about how we're getting better every period," said Catanzariti. "Before we went out for the third period we said, 'we tied last period, but lets make it our goal to win this one.' And we made it happen."
Penn State held strong early in the third period and eventually would push the Colonials on to their heels. Catanzariti would knock home Penn State's first goal with just over six minutes remaining the period to make the score 3-1.
The Nittany Lions had found more life and their hard work was paying off. Penn State wouldn't find the back of the net again and its hopes of a come back would end when the Colonials' Jamie Joslin would score the empty net goal with under a minute remaining. Head coach Brandwene believes the lessons learned during the third period extend beyond the scoreboard.
Over the weekend, the team learned to play the game on the ice, as opposed to up on the scoreboard. The team showed signs of resiliency in the second game and coach Brandwene is excited about where this team is headed throughout the rest of this season.
"Despite the outcome, which is never the outcome you're looking for, that third period for us was a turning point in our season," said Brandwene. "While there are still some things the entire day today that we are going to want to get better at, the springboard moving forward is everything about the third period. I'm really excited about moving forward given all the things that happened for us in the third period. So overall, despite the outcome, it was a good day for Penn State women's hockey."
As the Nittany Lions move forward they will look to continue to dig deep throughout the entire game and be resilient out on the ice. The Lions flashed signs of that ability during the contest on Sunday and coach Brandwene believes this team is capable of continuing to build on that effort.
The Blue and White will head away from home for an extended period of time as they travel to Missouri this upcoming weekend to face another CHA opponent in the Lions of Lindenwood (0-10-0).