By: Sean Flanery, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Despite missing the first five games of the season with an ankle sprain, freshman forward Hannah Hoenshell (Plano, Texas) has overcome the obstacles to become one of the Nittany Lions' main offensive weapons.
Currently, the Texas native ranks fourth on the team in points with a total of 10 and is tied for second in goals scored with seven. Since making her debut in the Sacred Heart series in late October, Hoenshell has been dominate on the ice for the Lions. The freshman forward delivered on the scoreboard for the Blue and White scoring in her second career game, as well as recording the first hat trick in Penn State history on Nov. 2 versus Sacred Heart.
Hoenshell's success at Penn State shouldn't come as a surprise as the 19-year-old has been finding the back of the net for quite some time now.
In Texas, Hoenshell spent six years with the Texas Alliance Bulldogs at the 19U level. In her last four seasons with the Bulldogs, Hoenshell tallied 155 goals in 166 games, while totaling 292 points during those fours years. The Nittany Lion forward has always had a knack for beating the opposing goaltender and she accredits much of her success to her former coach.
"I just continued to get better every year and had a really great coach who helped me improve a lot," said Hoenshell. "He developed my hands and we spent a lot of time working on my skills and everything just carried over into the games. I just continued to get better with every season."
While her coach helped her to become the player she is today, Hoenshell stated he was also a main reason behind her staying in Texas with the Bulldogs. Texas doesn't have a large draw for hockey, especially for women, so Hoenshell said it was difficult playing in the Lone Star State, but worth it.
"There's only one girl's organization in the whole state, so we played against boys and we had to travel a lot for girl's tournaments," said Hoenshell. "I decided to stay there though just because I had a good coach and I felt he could get me where I deserved to be."
As fate would have it, Hoenshell would be wearing the Blue and White in the team's inaugural season. While it may not have been the start to the season Hoenshell wanted, she has made the most of her opportunities thus far proving she deserves to be here. Penn State head coach Josh Brandwene believes Hoenshell's great work ethic following her injury allowed her to display just how effective she can be with the puck.
"She worked really hard to get back in the lineup," said Brandwene. "She followed all instructions [during her rehab] and is having herself a great season. She has a great work ethic, attitude and provides us with tremendous skill down low and she's very savvy with the puck."
While her stat sheet would never suggest that Hoenshell was nervous, she stated that while making her return from the injury she felt she had something to prove to everyone.
"I definitely wanted to get out there because I didn't feel as much apart of the team," said Hoenshell. "I was missing out on stuff in the beginning and my first practice I was really nervous not to mess up because I hadn't made an impression yet and they all had, so that was nerve-wracking, but I got over it quickly."
Hoenshell has done more than overcome the nerves of proving her skill to her teammates this season as she has performed at a high level since making her debut. The Texas native has gone as far as winning College Hockey America Rookie of the Week honors following her four point performance, two goals and two assists, on Jan. 4 versus Chatham.
Hoenshell is just one of many freshmen that have stepped up for the Lions thus far. With many Lions, along with Hoenshell, making tremendous strides in the past few weeks the future looks very bright for Penn State women's hockey.
Penn State (7-14-1) will play its next game this Friday at 7 p.m. as they travel to Syracuse, N.Y. to face-off in a two-game bout with the Orange of Syracuse (12-11-1).