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Crunch Time for Seniors as Season Winds Down

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By Tom Shively, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - A lifetime of hard work. An eternity of practice and workouts. Four years donning the blue and white uniform.

One series.

That's all that remains at Pegula Ice Arena as four seniors will say farewell this weekend to the building in which they made so many memories.

"My favorite hockey-related memory is when we swept Mercyhurst," forward Laura Bowman said. "They were ranked No. 6 and we swept them." 

"Not hockey related, we got back from a road trip and we made it to the fourth quarter of the Ohio State (football) game," forward Amy Petersen said. "So that was pretty cool to be a part of since that's just a Penn State thing." 

Bowman and Petersen are joined by forward Sarah Nielsen and defenseman Kelly Seward to round out the senior class, a class that has won 42 games in its time at Penn State, the most in the brief history of the Division I hockey program. 

"They've been an instrumental part of building this program for the past four seasons," interim head coach Dean Jackson said. "They're definitely going to leave their mark. They made a big impact academically, athletically, and throughout their four years the program has achieved some firsts in statistical categories. They're all a big part of that." 

The last few weeks of a season can always be hectic, especially for those about to move on from the program, but the players are doing their best to not focus on the senior festivities surrounding this series. They want all attention on their play. 

"I haven't thought about [senior day] on my own, only when other people mention it to me," Seward said. "Especially with the last couple of weekends, the team has been playing really good and hockey has been the focus." 

This series is huge in terms of momentum for the Nittany Lions, as they come off an impressive split at No. 8 Robert Morris last weekend, and have won three of the last four. Syracuse comes in comfortably in second place in the CHA, and a good showing from Penn State will certainly give them some confidence headed into the CHA tournament next weekend in Buffalo. 

"Playing them right before playoffs, it just makes us want to beat them that much more when it comes to playoffs," Nielsen said. "I love it."

Penn State currently sits a point behind Mercyhurst for third place heading into the final regular season weekend. 

More than anything though, the seniors want to go out on a positive note, understanding the opportunity they have at hand and how important it is to them to finish the job.

"We're excited for the whole weekend," Bowman said. "I think we're most excited for the game since last time we played them, we had a few girls out. This time, we have a lot of them back. We're excited to show them what we have."

"They're going to be a team that plays 200 feet, they work extremely hard," Jackson said. "They're a quick team and they compete. It's going to be a lot of similarities to what we saw last week in Robert Morris, and we're certainly up to the task." 

Don't miss the last chance to see the Nittany Lions at Pegula until the fall. The series begins today at 4:30 p.m. and concludes tomorrow at 2 p.m. Senior recognition will be held after the conclusion of tonight's game.

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