By: Sean Flanery, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's hockey team will look to rebound after dropping two games in a disappointing series versus in-state opponent Robert Morris last weekend when they start at six game road trip at Lindenwood this weekend.
The Nittany Lions (4-7-1) dropped two games against the Colonials last weekend, being outscored 11-2 on the scoreboard. Penn State head coach Josh Brandwene stated that despite the discrepancy on the scoreboard, the Lions learned many valuable lessons over the weekend and the program took a step forward as a whole.
In the second and third periods of Sunday's game against Robert Morris, the Nittany Lions displayed an intensity and fight that they had lacked in a lot of their games this season. Brandwene said the team's attitude and belief in themselves was a result of playing the game rather than playing against the scoreboard. The Lions will look to keep that mentality as they hit the road to take on fellow Division I and College Hockey America newcomer, the Lions of Lindenwood (0-10-0).
Much like the Blue and White, Lindenwood (0-10-0) is learning the ins and outs of CHA hockey week by week, with each weekend presenting a new team challenge and program firsts. Penn State, however, should not overlook the Lions as they have played many formidable opponents, including No. 5 Mercyhurst College, No. 6 Ohio State and Wisconsin.
Junior forward and team captain Taylor Gross believes her team can't focus in on Lindenwood's record because it doesn't provide an accurate measure of the team's skill.
"Lindenwood is a good team," said Gross. "If you look at who they've played, they've played a lot of good competition and we can't overlook anybody. They have a really good goaltender and overall they have a good team and we can't look past them."
While the Nittany Lions will try not to overlook Lindenwood, they will also attempt to keep that same mentality and focus they displayed late in the second game against Robert Morris. The Blue and White have had a week of practice to fine tune things before heading to Missouri for the two game series.
One unit that stepped up in the second game versus Robert Morris is the defense, shutting down the Colonials in the final two periods and limiting them to the lone empty net goal with under a minute remaining in the game. The Penn State defense could possibly gain more momentum this weekend as Lindenwood has only managed to score nine goals so far this season, due in large part to its tough schedule. Nonetheless, it still provides an opportunity for the Blue and White defense to continue to grow and make progress.
So far this season, the anchor of the Penn State defense has been junior goaltender Nicole Paniccia and she is responsible for a lot of the team's success, remaining solid between the pipes. Paniccia believes that the young defensive lines in front of her made a leap forward this past weekend against Robert Morris and they will continue to grow with each game.
"You know our defense is [mostly] freshmen," said Paniccia, "so every game that they play they're learning. Every practice they're learning and they're getting used to NCAA play and its starting to show on the ice. They are doing really well."
The defense for the Nittany Lions showed promise in the last two periods last weekend and as Paniccia said the defense is very young. With every game comes a new learning experience for the Blue and White and Lindenwood will be no exception. The two young programs make for an intriguing matchup this weekend and for years to come as CHA competitors.
enn State will face-off in the first of two games with Lindenwood this Friday night at 8 p.m. EST.