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Penn State Earns Split to Finish Regular Season

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By Brian McLaughlin, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSTIY PARK, Pa. - It was a tale of two games for the Nittany Lions' offense this weekend, unable to convert numerous opportunities in the series opener against Lindenwood on Friday, while pouring on six goals Saturday afternoon. 

On Friday night the Nittany Lions seemingly dominated Lindenwood on the stat sheet, outshooting the Lions 43-12, but never found the back of the net in a 1-0 loss. 

Junior goaltender Jolene deBruyn was able to make some clutch saves for Lindenwood, while under constant attack from Penn State. Lindenwood captain Britannia Gillanders produced the only goal for the Lions in the first period. 

"We didn't execute, we lacked vision and we didn't work smart. That kills us, we had 43 shots on goal, and we have to put one of those in," head coach Jeff Kampersal said. "We had plenty of backdoor tap-ins that we couldn't lift the puck. It is really frustrating to lose that game."

Following the first period for Penn State, freshman goaltender Chantal Burke made her third career appearance in the Blue and White, replacing senior goalie Hannah Ehresmann. Burke did not allow a goal throughout the rest of the game, stopping seven shots over the final two periods.

In the third period the Nittany Lions outshot Lindenwood 20-4 but could not find a way to tie the game. Katie Rankin dominated in the faceoff circle for Penn State giving them ample opportunities to get on the board, winning 11 of 14 face-offs she took. 

With Friday's result Lindenwood drew within one point of the Nittany Lions in the CHA standings but Penn State answered in a vengeance Saturday dominating the Lions to a 6-0 win.

Natalie Heising led the way for Penn State with a hat-trick, recording one goal in each period. She now has 17 goals on the season and eight in the last five games. 

Heising struck early in the first period for a power play goal past starting goalie for Lindenwood, Lauren Hennessy. Thanks to the early power play the Nittany Lions were able to get nine shots in the first 10 minutes on Hennessey, making just her second appearance of the year for Lindenwood. 

"Sometimes it's just hockey where we get the bounces. Today they didn't start their number one goaltender so I think they just made the decision to give her a rest to get her prepared for Thursday," Kampersal said. "So that definitely helped but at the same time we threw a cumulative of 85 shots and attempted over a hundred so we are getting the puck on net. We tried to do a better job today of doing simple better, making eight foot passes instead of 80-foot passes, coming out together as a group."

Heising kept things rolling for the Nittany Lions early in the second period with another goal with lots of traffic in front of the net. 

Penn State kept the scoring going with eight minutes remaining in the second period with Amanda McLeod's first goal of the year on a scrum in front of the net. 

A 5-on-3 for Penn State with 17 minutes left in the third period left the door open for Heising's third goal of the night to complete the trifecta. It was her 17th of the season and eighth in the last five games. 

Just moments later Penn State converted again, still on the power play, with Sophie Slattery notching her fifth goal of the year. The Nittany Lions finished three power play goals on the day while killing off six penalties of their own. 

"The power play which was frustrating yesterday was really clicking, and to see them score on a 5-on-3 and again right after on the 5-on-4 was really satisfying," Kampersal said. "That's what good teams do is take advantage of those opportunities." 

Penn State was not finished yet however, as Meike Meilleur found the back of the net on a wrist shot to finish the scoring at 6-0.

Ehreshman was also outstanding in the net for Nittany Lions posting a shutout in her final regular season game as a Nittany Lion. 

"This is an awesome day for the seniors to get this win on their senior day," Kampersal said. "I told them when they reflect back on their time at Penn State whether it's five or 75 years later they can remember today fondly and be proud of what they have done for this program and accomplished." 

The Nittany Lions will have another matchup with Lindenwood this Thursday in the opener of the conference tournament, which will be their fifth matchup this season.

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