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Toughness and Youth Inspire Hope for Nittany Lions

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By Patrick Anglin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The sound of pads crashing into the glass. The sight of skates in the air as players fly across the ice. This was the scene for most of the weekend at Pegula Ice Arena. Penn State faced a great opposition this weekend, with the reigning national champions No. 2 Clarkson coming to town. The Nittany Lions were not fazed however, able to stand strong and match their opponent's physicality.

 

Head Coach Jeff Kampersal acknowledged the fact that Clarkson was a top-tier program, but credited his players for stepping up to the challenge.

 

"They're a big physical team, really good on the wall and with their 50/50 battles," Kampersal said. "I thought we were ready for them."

 

Both teams played extremely tough throughout the weekend series, showcasing some of the strengths for each respective program. Over the course of the weekend, Penn State got off 31 shot attempts and goalie Daniela Paniccia recorded 47 saves.

 

Clarkson was victorious on both Friday night and Saturday night, with a score of 2-0 in both games. However, there were still many bright spots for the Lions to recognize as they move forward, and many signs of improvement to build upon for future growth.

 

"Everything we practiced, we followed through on," Kampersal said. "I'm proud of our players, I thought they did a great job. Everybody played tough."

 

Kampersal has made it clear what kind of effort and attitude he wants from all of his players. The team is living by the mantra that it's better to be feared.

 

"We want to be really hard to play against, we want to be physical." Kampersal said. "I want teams to know that when they play Penn State, they're going to have to grind to beat us"

 

Kampersal's first season at Penn State is all about competing and creating a culture for the team moving forwards. This includes providing some of the younger players on the team, whom he believes are ready, with extended playing time.

 

"Our freshman... are special players," Kampersal said. "The players we have in the lineup are really coachable, they work hard. When we had Madsen, Heising, Rankin and together on the ice in the last five minutes, we had some offense open up for us." He added that the lines may change a bit in the future, but he likes what he sees from every player that gets an opportunity to play.

 

While the young players show great potential for this season and the future of the program, Kampersal reminded the media that their success wouldn't be possible without strong play and leadership from the older players.

 

"Bella, Crow, and Hardy are great captains and leaders". Kampersal said. He credits the strong leadership from the upperclassmen and the comradery among the players one as of the team's greatest strengths.

 

Senior captain Bella Sutton takes great pride in the effort given by the younger players. She and her fellow upperclassmen are leading by example, and trying to pass on some positive qualities and a strong mindset.

 

"The newbies as a whole are seeing a lot of playing time... we believe in them," Sutton said. "We want them and we need them to be our best players at some times. We want them to step up to the challenge."

 

Both the young and old Nittany Lions will look to step up to that challenge as the season goes on.

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