By: Sean Flanery, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - This past weekend Penn State (7-20-1) closed out its final home series of the season with a 3-3-tie verses fellow College Hockey America newcomer Lindenwood (4-23-2).
Following a devastating 3-1 loss, which included three unanswered goals by Lindenwood on Friday afternoon, the Nittany Lions rebounded with a brilliant effort in their final home contest of the season.
"That was an unbelievable gutsy 65-minute effort against an unbelievable set of circumstances," said Penn State head coach Josh Brandwene. "I am extremely proud of them and their effort, their courage, their stick-to-itiveness and that's going to be my takeaway from today. Today was a big step for this program and I'm really proud of the adversity we handled."
While this past weekend marked the final home games of the season for the Blue and White, it also marked the last time the women's team will suit up in Greenberg Ice Pavilion.
The Nittany Lions have a lot to look forward to in the future as their new home, Pegula Ice Arena, is currently being constructed and is on schedule to be completed sometime before next season. While the future facility will offer so much for the young program, Greenberg will always be known as the first home of the Penn State women's hockey program.
"I have a ton of great memories from this building as a player," said Brandwene, "I got engaged at center-ice in this building and I even came back here to coach against Penn State. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be here with this program right now looking at what we have to look forward to at [Pegula], but also in this historic first season, which was spent right here in this building and I'm proud to have done it with this group of kids."
While the result in the final game at Greenberg wasn't one of which the players were hoping for, junior goaltender Nicole Paniccia, who made 44 saves on the day, believes she couldn't have asked for more out of the team as a whole.
"We played so well today, and I'm so proud of everyone," said Paniccia. "As our last home game, like coach has been saying all year, we want to play our best hockey at the end of the season and I definitely think we have been. I'm really proud of my team and I think it was a good way to end our final home series here."
Now, as Penn State says goodbye to Greenberg, it looks to prepare for a four game road trip to end the season that will begin next Friday in Rochester, N.Y. where they will face Rochester Institute of Technology (12-12-5).
As the days leading to the CHA tournament continue to wind down, the Nittany Lions will use all of the momentum they have earned up to this point to continue to improve before the playoffs begin in early March.
"All of this is helping us going into the playoffs," said Brandwene. "We have been in so many one-goal, two-goal games I've actually lost count to this point, especially this semester. We are a battle-tested underdog and that is a great place to be going into the playoffs and I'm really looking forward to these next couple weekends against some great competition. Our goal continues to be playing our best hockey down the stretch because anything can happen in playoff time."