By Patrick Anglin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Two is better than one, or at least that's how the timeless adage goes. That simple phrase applies to many things in life, including the current goalie situation for the women's hockey team. Why have one talented goalie, when you can have two, both ready to dominate at a minute's notice. That's the current situation for Penn State with goalies Hannah Ehressman and Daniela Paniccia.
Senior Hannah Ehressman has spent her last three years at Penn State perfecting her craft, but success in hockey is nothing new to her. Before stepping foot on a college campus, she was already a two-time state champion in hockey at Minnetonka High School in her hometown of Minnetonka, Minnesota. Outside of school, she played three years for the Minnesota Junior Whitecaps and spent two years as a player in the Minnesota Girls' elite league.
As soon as she arrived and began her career at Penn State, the accolades began to pile up, including a CHA Rookie of the Week Award and multiple CHA Goalie of the Week Awards. Her achievements don't stop on the ice, as she is proven to be very well-rounded with her success in the classroom. The accounting major has been a member of the CHA All-Academic team her first three years at school, and a member of the Big Ten All-Academic team the past two years, including a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar award.
Ehressman's recipe for success in all mediums of life is simple.
"It takes a lot of hard work... and being the best you're asked to," she said.
For sophomore Daniela Paniccia, Penn State hockey runs in the family; her older sister Nicole was a goalie for the school from 2012-2014. Before she came to Penn State, Paniccia played three seasons for the Oakville Junior Hornets. She is ranked second all-time in the Providence Women's Hockey League with a whopping 14 shutouts.
Her career at Penn State has been just as spectacular, earning various accolades through her freshman year. She has earned CHA Rookie of the Week honors, CHA Goalie of the week honors multiple times, and CHA Goalie of the Month for her performance last October. Academically, the liberal arts major is a great success, earning CHA All-Academic honors last year.
Paniccia acknowledges her wide range of accomplishments, but consistently remains humble.
"It's always nice to have the accolades, but it's a team effort." Paniccia said. "Those things can't be done without a strong team behind it."
Head coach Jeff Kampersal is the one of the biggest fans of the 1-2 punch that the Nittany Lions pack at goalie. He is never concerned about any drop off in performance when Paniccia steps on the ice for Ehressman.
"When she's in, she doesn't miss a beat... She's played great for four periods now, and she's only getting better." Kampersal said about his sophomore goalie. When asked about what it's like to see the two players push each other he added, "It's great to see some good, healthy competition on our team."
Both goalies have spent time competing on the ice this season.
Ehressman has played great hockey in the first two weeks of the season. In the first two games against Minnesota Duluth, she earned 60 total saves, including a 38 save performance in the second game. She earned CHA Goalie of the Week honors for her performance. In the third game of the season, played against Union, Ehressman recorded 11 saves, before Paniccia finished out the weekend.
Whenever Paniccia is needed, she's always ready to step up for her teammates. She came into game three at the start of the third period after getting zero shots in warmups beforehand. Of course, it didn't matter, as she didn't miss a beat. She kept Union off the board and recorded four saves. She then started the entirety of game four and picked up right where she left off the game before, recording 20 saves, including in the overtime period. She earned the CHA Goalie of the Week award for her efforts.
Having two hard-working, top-tier goalies is an enviable position to be in. No matter who's in goal for the Nittany Lions come game day, there will be widespread confidence that they have the defensive advantage.