Recently in Women's Hockey Category

Coach Brandwene Interview

By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Christi Vetter enjoys debate, but there is no debating her athletic versatility.

The 5-foot-11 freshman forward arrived at Penn State having been a four-sport athlete during her high school years at Lakeville North.

She skipped playing high school hockey during her senior year to pursue Nordic skiing. Vetter was a four-year letter winner in golf and a three-year letter winner in cross-country.

"In high school I was a four-sport athlete," said Vetter. "I played hockey obviously. I was in Nordic skiing my senior winter instead of playing for the high school [hockey] team. I was on the golf team, and I ran cross-country."

Vetter is an excellent golfer, which translates well into a hard slap shot on the ice. She holds her high school record for lowest score on the links.

"My lowest score was a 69.... I guess I hold the high school record for now," said Vetter.

The coolest sports story during Vetter's high school career came back in 2012-13 though when her team fell to Minnetonka in the longest game in Minnesota high school hockey tournament history. Current teammates Amy Petersen, Laura Bowman and Hannah Ehresmann beat Vetter and Lakeville North in a six overtime marathon.

Vetter still remembers the story.

"That was awful," said Vetter. "I was on the first line, so I was out every other shift. Once it got towards the second and third overtime it ended up being my line on the ice until we couldn't skate any more, and the second line was on the ice until they couldn't skate anymore.... It was really intense. I dislocated my thumb sometime during the game. I was removed from the ice. They wanted me to stop the game, so I went into the tunnel, had them pop it back in, taped it up, and I finished the game.... It was a nine period game, so six overtimes. It ended around 1:15 in the morning."

In fact, it was Petersen who scored the winning goal on a controversial call. Unfortunately for Vetter and her team, the goal could not be reviewed because those in charge of replay left the rink at 11 p.m.

Vetter's height, strength and hockey IQ make her a perfect fit in head coach Josh Brandwene's system.

The Lakeville, Minnesota, native was a member of the USA Hockey U18 National Team in 2012, but she says that her experiences with the squad are different than collegiate game.

"The U18 National Team it was completely competitive all the time," said Vetter. "You're friends, but you're not best friends. You're competing against them constantly. Here, we are all friends. We're all family. We get along so well, so it's a completely different environment."

Once Vetter stepped foot in Happy Valley, she knew Penn State was where she wanted to play collegiate hockey.

"I came to Penn State because it has a great academic reputation as long as a phenomenal athletic reputation," said Vetter. "And, when I came to visit I knew quite a few Minnesota girls, and they introduced me to some other girls on the team. I thought they were girls with great character, so I wanted to play with girls like that."





By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - While sophomore forwards Amy Petersen and Laura Bowman were growing up together and playing hockey in Minnetonka, Minn., junior forward Hannah Hoenshell was lacing up her skates in Plano, Texas.

Now, the trio synergize on the top line for the Nittany Lions.

With Petersen playing left wing, assistant captain Bowman positioned as center and Hoenshell on the right wing, opposing teams have struggled to prevent Penn State's heavy offensive attack.

This past weekend Penn State (3-3-2) split a two-game home series at Pegula Ice Arena against Princeton (1-1-0), winning Sunday night, 2-1, but falling late Monday afternoon, 4-1.

All three Penn State goals against the Tigers came from the top line of the Nittany Lions.

"That whole line continues to move their feet," said head coach Josh Brandwene. "When you move your feet and make good decisions with the puck good things happen."

Petersen netted two first period goals in the opening contest while Bowman scored the only goal in the second game.

"Overall we have really good chemistry as a line," said Hoenshell. "Obviously they've (Petersen and Bowman) played together since [they were little]. I just came in there, and they're really easy to play with. We see each other pretty well."

In Penn State's 2-1 victory, Petersen's first goal came on the power play when she buried the rebound from a Kelly Seward shot into the back of the net. Then it was a nifty Hoenshell pass to open Petersen in the slot to help her line mate notch goal number two.

With two more goals on Sunday, Petersen now leads the team with six goals in just eight games played.

"I think a lot of my success is because of my line mates," said Petersen. "They're getting me the puck in front of the net or taking good low shots and there are rebounds."

Bowman scored the first goal of the second period on Monday with a beautiful wrist shot assisted by Petersen. She nearly scored again when a wrist shot ricocheted off of the post and crossbar. Initially ruled no goal, the play was reviewed and confirmed.

"It was impossible from our bench to tell whether it went back bar in the net, post and out, or top bar to the post and out," said Brandwene.

For Bowman, being able to skate on the same line as Petersen at the collegiate level is a dream come true. The two grew up playing together from a young age all the way through high school.

"It's great. It's amazing, and I love playing with [Petersen]," said Bowman. "I've loved playing with her since day one. We have such great chemistry. We don't even have to talk basically on the ice, we just know where each other is, and we are always supporting each other."

Despite Hoenshell not playing with the two Minnesotans prior to her arrival at Penn State, Petersen says that the Texas native fits right in with herself and Bowman.

"Hannah's easy to play with," said Petersen. "She likes to move the puck a lot, which fits into how Laura and I play. Just communicating. We know each other is going to be out there, so it works well."

Bowman echoed the words of Petersen.

"Hannah Hoenshell is a great addition to our line," said Bowman. "She has blended into our line so well. She has the same hockey mind as we do...I personally don't think we've ever had a better line mate than Hannah."

Petersen, Bowman and Hoenshell have now accounted for seven of Penn State's 12 goals this season, and it does not seem like the trio will be slowing down any time soon.
    

Coach Brandwene Interview

By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Having a lake in your backyard presents a multitude of activities to explore during childhood. Some grow up swimming. Others take the fishing route. But, for forward Caitlin Reilly, growing up in Chanhassen, Minn., means that she grew up skating on the frozen body of water.

The dazzling freshman, who scored her first collegiate goal last weekend against Union with her parents in attendance, was born into hockey.

Family Affair
"I started playing hockey when I was two years old or when I could stand," said Reilly. "I started to play just because my older brothers, sister and my dad played. So it ran in the family."

Her father, Mike, played collegiate hockey at Colorado College from 1976-78 and then at Minnesota from 1979-81. The Montreal Canadiens drafted him in 1977.

The five-foot-five freshman is the youngest of five. All of her older siblings have played Division I hockey.

"It's pretty cool having siblings that all played Division I collegiate hockey for Big Ten teams," said Reilly. "As the youngest I had a lot of pressure on me having to go D-I, but it's fun and I get to learn from them."

Reilly's oldest and only sister, Shannon, played hockey at Ohio State from 2006-10. Currently, her three older brothers--Mikey, Connor and Ryan--all play for Minnesota.

Being the youngest, you would think that friendly family competitions would ensue, but according to Reilly that has never really been the case unless on the frozen ponds.

"I wouldn't say as much with me, but definitely between my brothers," said Reilly. "But in Minnesota, when we get on the ponds, we have some competition out there."

Having four older siblings certainly has its occasional challenges, but Reilly attributes her growth as a hockey player and person to the guidance of her three brothers and sister.

"You have to go out there and give it your best effort," said Reilly. "They'd always come to my games back in high school and would tell me people are always watching, so you have to give your best effort so you show everyone the type of player you are. They've taught me a few things with my shot and certain things on the ice. Most importantly, go out there, have fun and always give it your best effort because they know how capable I am of playing well. That's the biggest thing they've taught me."

Growing up she tried other sports, but her love always returned to hockey.

"I also played lacrosse and soccer growing up, but I just fell in love with the game of hockey."

For Reilly's parents, Mike and Lisa, having all five children lace up their skates is a huge time commitment. Hockey schedules haven't always aligned between Reilly and her four siblings, but according to Reilly, the love and support from her parents has meant everything.

"It's definitely a lot of travel for my parents, especially the year when my sister was at Ohio State, my brothers were playing for Sioux Falls, another one of my brothers was playing at Shattuck-St. Mary's, and I was in high school, so they had to go watch four different teams," said Reilly. "But they've managed to come to an equal amount of all of our games. Now that my brothers are on the same team and my sister isn't playing as much, it's a lot easier for them. They split between my brothers and me."

Home Sweet [Happy Valley] Home

With Reilly being one of nine Nittany Lions hailing from Minnesota, the transition, like many of her other freshman counterparts, has been a smooth one.

In fact, Reilly has played in summer leagues with a number of the Minnesotans on the team.

"It's definitely been easier to transition," said Reilly. "Coming all the way from Minnesota but having all the other [Minnesota] girls here definitely made me feel included. As a freshman it's hard coming to a new place, but it's been fun! They all know the tradition of hockey in Minnesota, so everyone chirps us Minnesotans, but it's the best."

A Look into the Future

With the rewarding John Curley Center for Sports Journalism offered through the College of Communications, Reilly is ensuring that sports remains a part of her life after graduation.

"I love sports in general, especially hockey," said Reilly. "I'm hoping to one day be a reporter for the NHL. I just love the game; so being able to do that in my future would be awesome."

With all the Division I sports at Penn State, Reilly will have the opportunity to get real life experience in the sports broadcasting field while in Happy Valley.

The versatile freshman is coming off a weekend performance that led to her being honored as the College Hockey America Rookie of the week. You can see Reilly and the rest of the Nittany Lions face off against Princeton in a two-game series this Sunday (7 p.m.) and Monday (4 p.m.) at Pegula Ice Arena.




By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In just their third year as an NCAA Division I women's hockey team, the Nittany Lions are off to their best start in program history. 


This past weekend, Penn State (2-2-2) traveled to Schenectady, New York, to faceoff against Union (1-4-1) in a two-game series. After defeating the Dutchwomen, 4-1, on Friday night, the Blue and White rallied to a 2-2 tie on Saturday afternoon.

Not only are the Nittany Lions off to their best start in program history, but they are also unbeaten in their last three contests, going 1-0-2.

"I'm certainly very pleased with the poise and perseverance to stick with the game plan," said head coach Josh Brandwene.

In Friday night's three-goal victory, freshman Caitlin Reilly scored her first career goal to give the Blue and White an early lead. Experience led the rest of the way for the Nittany Lions as juniors Shannon Yoxheimer and Amy Petersen as well as sophomore Sarah Nielsen each scored.

Saturday's matinee was no different, as Petersen scored to even the game at 1-1. Then, sophomore Kelly Seward scored three minutes into the third period to tie the game, 2-2.

"We have a great balance of experience and youth, and we made a lot of strides as a hockey team again this weekend," said Brandwene. "We have a lot to build on and still some things to get better at. Never satisfied.

Penn State went on the offensive against Union, outshooting the Dutchwomen in both games. The Nittany Lions outshot Union 36-21 in Friday's win and 37-22 in Saturday's tie.

According to Brandwene, puck control and communication led to such dominant play in the attacking zone.

"We did a good job all weekend of puck possession," said Brandwene. "Just great poise, great work ethic and puck possession and control. We really distributed it well. Good communication and lots to build on there."

The line of Laura Bowman, Amy Petersen and Hannah Hoenshell led the Nittany Lions offensively, scoring a pair of goals, recording five assists and taking 24 shots.

Petersen has been on fire, scoring three goals in as many games.

"I'm really pleased with Laura, Amy and Hannah's effort this weekend," said Brandwene. "They were really strong at both ends of the ice. They did all the little things. They generated some great scoring chances. If they keep working hard, great things are going to happen for them."

While Celine Whitlinger started in net Friday, Hannah Ehresmann got the nod on Saturday. Both continued their impressive play between the pipes. Whitlinger made 21 saves en route to her first win of the season, and Ehresmann swatted away 20 shots to preserve the tie.

"Great efforts from both Celine and Hannah on the weekend," said Brandwene. "Whenever we had breakdowns and little moments here and there, they both came up very big for us. I'm really pleased with the goaltending."

The Nittany Lions will look to continue their unbeaten streak when they return home to Pegula Ice Arena on Sunday to faceoff against Princeton at 7:00 p.m.



Head Coach Josh Brandwene Interview

By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - One of the most notable perks that come along with Penn State hockey is the beautiful, state-of-the-art Pegula Ice Arena. Whereas most players and coaches point to the locker room, fitness area or ice as the best elements of the two-year-old rink, freshman goaltender Hannah Ehresmann enjoys the simple amenities.

"My favorite part [of Pegula Ice Arena] is the chocolate milks we have in the fridge," said Ehresmann.

But, that's not the only thing she loves about Penn State.

"My favorite part about Penn State other than Pegula is all the pride that Penn State has, especially at football games," said Ehresmann. "They're really fun."

Ehresmann plans to extend that pride seen in the student section at Beaver Stadium across Curtin Road to Pegula Ice Arena.

Just four games into the season, the freshman is well on her way. In two starts, she's posted a 1-0-1 record with 1.44 goals against average (3 goals allowed, 74 saves) and a .961 save percentage.

"I think the biggest things are just her focus, her process, and her level of compete, and the work that she does with Courtney, our goalie coach, which allows her to get better every day and that's a really great thing to see," said head coach Josh Brandwene.

Usually the transition from high school to the collegiate level is a challenging endeavor. However, Ehresmann, who hails from Minnetonka, Minn., has joined a couple of familiar faces at Penn State.

In fact, Ehresmann attended the same high school and played with current teammates Amy Petersen and Laura Bowman. The familiarity with Petersen and Bowman has supported the freshman as she gets acclimated to a new territory.

"It's been amazing [having Petersen and Bowman as teammates]," said Ehresmann. "I know their styles of play, so it's easy to know what they are going to do, which is really helpful.... The team has helped out a lot, too. They're very supportive and they just help show us the ropes as freshmen."

Even with the help of her teammates, adjusting to college play is not a free skate on a Friday night.

"The pace is much quicker and the shots are a lot harder and more consistent," said Ehresmann. 
"In high school some people would have hard shots, but in college everyone has hard and quick shots."

Although the season is young, Ehresmann is most pleased with her performance this past Sunday at home against then No. 8 Quinnipiac. The freshman was a stonewall in net, stopping 45 shots to preserve a 1-1 tie.

"I'm most proud of sticking with the game against Quinnipiac," said Ehresmann. "I was really tired going into the third period...and with ten minutes left I lost feeling in my legs. I just stuck with it and it ended up being the best for our team." 

The person who recruited Ehresmann to Happy Valley could not be more thrilled with the effort that his freshman goaltender has displayed between the pipes this early in the season, especially versus Quinnipiac.

"I'm proud of her compete level," said Brandwene. "There was a lot of traffic in front of our net, and you can just see the intensity, the commitment to her technique, fighting through screens, and really doing a great job throughout the whole game. She just continues to focus on her process and get better every single day. The effort is always there and I love what I see from her right now." 

With junior goaltender Celine Whitlinger splitting time with Ehresmann, the first year net minder is using Whitlinger's experience to her advantage. According to Brandwene, their willingness to help and challenge one another is integral to the growth of the program. 

"They're sort of referred to affectionately as the 'sisterhood' here in the program, and they are just great teammates, great supporters of each other, and they work really hard. It's a really great thing for our program."

Luckily for Ehresmann, the Berkey Creamery is in walking distance of Pegula Ice Arena. Meaning that chocolate milk is never far away, just in case Pegula ever runs out.

By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Playing against some of the top programs in the country is nothing new for the Penn State women's hockey team. Such was the case this past weekend as the Nittany Lions (1-2-1) faced off against No. 8 Quinnipiac (2-0-1).

Despite dropping a competitive contest on Saturday night, the Blue and White rallied Sunday afternoon behind Hannah Ehresmann's 45 saves and Amy Petersen's game-tying goal to draw, 1-1.

"I'm really proud of this group for a total team effort as it relates to consistency and response," head coach Josh Brandwene said. "We had a great response when we faced adversity, and I saw a lot of growth for this hockey team that continues to evolve and get better every day."

Whereas Brandwene said his team played only 19 minutes of complete hockey in Saturday night's loss, the head coach refined his statement after Sunday's tie.

"It was a war out there against a good hockey club for 65 minutes," said Brandwene. "We made adjustments. Quinnipiac made adjustments. That's what high level hockey is all about, and I'm proud of them for the 65 minutes."

The two-game series against the Bobcats allowed the Blue and White to put their talented goaltenders on display for the passionate home crowd.

While junior Celine Whitlinger posted 31 saves in Saturday night's loss, freshman Hannah Ehresmann stopped 45 shots to preserve the tie.

"They work. They learn. They support each other. They have a great goaltending coach that works with them," said Brandwene. "I'm incredibly proud of their effort. I cannot say enough about Hannah Ehresmann's performance in goal. She was steady, poised, excellent job."

For freshman Ehresmann, being able to watch Whitlinger in net the game prior helped her perform at her highest level during Sunday's matinee.

"I definitely look up to Celine [Whitlinger], and I try to compete as well as she does," said Ehresmann. "We can both get better from watching each other, and I'm sure she feels the same way."

Offensively it was the line of Amy Petersen, Hannah Hoenshell and Laura Bowman that impressed. Together, the line combined for the lone goal of the weekend. Communication and synergy were key in the line's success, but all it took was a simple shot to the net to lead the Nittany Lions to a tie on Sunday.

"Remi [Martin] missed wide from the point, and I played the puck in the corner," said Petersen. "I saw Laura [Bowman] on the high slot, and I was actually trying to get a rebound out front for her by shooting off of the goalie's pads, and it just bounced of the side of her pad and dropped in."

Communication has been an area of focus for Brandwene and his squad, and Sunday afternoon was the height of such play thus far this season, especially among Petersen's line.

"They had themselves a heck of a hockey game," said Brandwene. "Really good spacing, really moving their feet well, playing well at both ends of the ice, they generated some good offense throughout, and they talked in the locker room about putting pucks on net from everywhere. And, when you put pucks on net, good things happen, so that's an outstanding performance by their line, and a great opportunistic goal by Amy [Petersen]."

A big reason why the line of Petersen, Hoenshell and Bowman performed at such a high level Sunday is because Petersen and Bowman have played together since the young age of five.

"It's definitely special," said Petersen. "It's not something many people can say they've done. We've been playing together since we were five. We've been on the same team every winter and every summer ever since. It's a lot of fun to play with her now in college."

Even more importantly, the talented line focuses on just having fun.

"Our line likes to have a lot of fun out there," said Petersen. "We try to stay loose and just work together. When we actually get one to go in, it's a lot of fun."

Next up for the Nittany Lions is a road trip against the Union Dutchwomen on Friday, October 17 and Saturday, October 18.

Practice Update with Coach Brandwene

By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "I think I strapped my skates on when I was three," said freshman defenseman Bella Sutton.

The versatile Nittany Lion newcomer who hails from Shoreview, Minn., was introduced to hockey at an extremely young age. However, in Minnesota terms, three years old is ordinary. In that state, hockey is not just a game. It's a lifestyle.

"Coming from Minnesota, it's not that you're expected to play hockey, but it's definitely a huge part," said Sutton. "There is a lot of pride that goes into hockey from Minnesota. So growing up in that area definitely translated to my love of the game."

Sutton arrives at Penn State as one of eight freshmen to join the progressive women's hockey program. Including herself into the mix, half of the newcomers are from Minnesota. To make Happy Valley even more welcoming for Sutton, five other teammates are native of the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

"We definitely take a lot of flack being the Minnesota clan on the team," said Sutton. "But, it's nice to have those girls here just because they know home. It makes being here a lot easier." 

The five-foot-six defenseman, who previously played varsity hockey at Mounds View High School, chose the Blue and White for the same reasons many other student-athletes do. Sutton was attracted to the unique balance placed on academics and athletics. 

Sutton is studying biology with the hope of attending medical school after graduation. 

"
Medicine is something that has always interested me," said Sutton. "I always say I don't want to end up in a cubicle. I want to be doing something and learning something all the time in different situations; learning about myself and other people. I'm not sure what exactly I want to do with medicine, but I know I want to help people."

So far classes have gone well for Sutton, but she says that her Minnesota accent has provided a form of entertainment for her classmates. 

"Usually, the unique thing I say in class is that I am from Minnesota," said Sutton. "So, they know right off the bat that is where my accent is coming from. I definitely get made fun of for saying bag and bagel and what not."

Although a defenseman, Sutton has no problem joining the offensive rush. In her first game as a Nittany Lion, Sutton netted two unassisted goals and an assist the 5-2 win over Western in an exhibition contest two weeks ago. 

"
From a young age, I always wanted to be a part of offense," said Sutton. "They tried me at forward a couple times. I like defense way better, but I definitely like the scoring aspect of hockey. I love joining the rush."

Offensive defensemen are a rare breed, but when asked if she likes to compare her game to Pittsburgh Penguin defenseman, Kris Letang, she agreed. However, she feels her game mirrors other NHL players, too.

"Brent Burns who played on the Wild for a little bit," said Sutton. "He's playing [for the San Jose Sharks], but he's definitely a hometown guy that I look up to, and [Ryan] Suter as well now that he's come to Minnesota. I'm a hometown girl, so I love watching the Wild while focusing on my play and idolizing them."

The offensive-minded defenseman comes to Penn State with quite a resume. She participated in the USA Hockey U16 and U18 National Developmental Camps, earning spots on the All-Star team. Such experiences have helped ease the transition from high school to collegiate play.

"Definitely going to the camps widened my experiences by seeing other girls from all over, and not just playing with the Minnesota girls definitely helped my transition," said Sutton. "You learn about different teams out there and how they play. It made me appreciate Minnesota that much more for having the opportunity to play for my high school. But, playing with great athletes in the summer really helped me."

Minus a couple of food cravings that she cannot get at Penn State, the move from Shoreview to University Park as been smooth sailing thus far. 

"I really miss my mom's cooking," said Sutton.

Food cravings aside, expect to hear the name Bella Sutton in the next four years.

By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Sometimes it takes a loss to inspire a tenacious win.

After the Friday night loss to No. 1 Minnesota, the Nittany Lions adjusted accordingly to skate past St. Cloud State, 3-2, Saturday night.

"I loved the start we got off to against Minnesota, and then it became about learning a series of lessons that we went ahead and applied against St. Cloud State," said head coach Josh Brandwene. "I'm really proud of the adjustments we made."

After getting outshot as well as losing the faceoff battle, certain areas became the focus in preparation for Saturday's game.

"The biggest thing is attention to little detail and willingness to make the simple play when there is no other option," said Brandwene. "We did a fabulous job of that against St. Cloud State."

Junior Shannon Yoxheimer netted her fourth career two-goal game, including the game-winner at 6:27 in the third period. Such a performance is exactly the type of play Yoxheimer's head coach expects out of the team's captain

"Oh, great effort from [Yoxheimer]," said Brandwene. "Fabulous leadership this weekend. Played incredibly well defensively both days. Worked really hard offensively and really made good on some great chances tonight. I'm certainly very proud of her."

Going into the weekend, it was known that junior goalie Celine Whitlinger would start between the pipes against Minnesota, and freshman Hannah Ehresmann versus St. Cloud State. Whitlinger stopped 40 shots, while Ehresmann terminated 29 shots.

Overall, Brandwene was very pleased with both of their performances.

"Celine kept us in it with some spectacular saves, especially when we were on the penalty kill," said Brandwene. "Hannah Ehresmann was fantastic against St. Cloud State. Very steady, very confident, really good effort, great job on her part all the way around."

With nine Nittany Lions' hailing from the Minnesota area, this past weekend was a homecoming of sorts for those players. With emotions at a higher level than normal for the Blue and White Minnesotan skaters, Brandwene was pleased with their play, especially on Saturday.

"Great effort on all of their parts [Saturday]," said Brandwene. "Amy [Petersen] scored a goal and had great jump all night. Laura Bowman had huge penalty killing especially during that 5-on-3 with a monster shot block. Sarah Nielsen had herself a great game. Caitlin Reilly was sharp, Paige [Jahnke] and Bella Sutton, as well. Really just a great night for the whole team, especially our Minnesotans."

Next up for Penn State is a home series against Quinnipiac this upcoming Saturday and Sunday. And, according to Brandwene, specific areas will be improved upon this week in practice.

"The biggest thing we still want to improve upon is making sure that our energy and effort level remains constant from period to period. Certainly the third period against St. Cloud State was a great effort for us both offensively and defensively, and that's something that we want to build off of." 

By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.On the heels of a strong start during exhibition action last weekend, the Nittany Lion women's hockey team heads into the regular season behind not one, but two confident goalies.

With Penn State opening up regular season play this weekend, head coach Josh Brandwene plans to balance play between junior goalie Celine Whitlinger and freshman goalie Hannah Ehresmann throughout the course of the year.

"Our modus operandi is that we let [our goalies] know on Thursday prior to practice what the situation is for the weekend," said Brandwene.

In last Friday's 5-2 exhibition win over Western at Pegula Ice Arena, Whitlinger and Ehresmann split time, each accumulating about 30 minutes of play between the pipes.

"I was really pleased on Friday with the way both of them, Celine and Hannah, conducted themselves," said Brandwene. "They played fantastically."

As a result of the equitable time allotted to both goalies in the lone exhibition, the question regarding the starting goaltender for the season surfaced.

"We take things one day at a time here," said Brandwene. "We expect everybody to come and grind it out everyday in practice."

A substantial explanation as to why Brandwene has been compelled to rotate between a veteran and a rookie in the crease is due to the additional coaching that the goalies have received.

This past offseason, Brandwene added former Mercyhurst net minder Courtney Drennen to his coaching staff. Drennen brings with her the expertise and experience to help blossom the team's goalies.

"Courtney [Drennen] is doing a great job," said Brandwene. "She's doing an awesome job developing and continuing to grow them as athletes and their craft as goaltenders."

Brandwene adds that his goalies are hungry for feedback and want to get better. In lieu of the quote-on-quote competition, Whitlinger and Ehresmann plan to continue playing and communicating at high levels.

"We're just working hard everyday on the ice, off the ice trying to get better," said Whitlinger. "So, that competition aspect definitely pushes us a little more, but at the end of the day, we're still friends."

The younger Ehresmann sees similarities between her game and Whitlinger's, an observation that helps make sense of Brandwene's decision to share playing time.

"We're both similar goalies," said Ehresmann. "We're both butterfly goalies. We tend to go down more than stay up. So I just look at [Whitlinger's] game and see what techniques she uses, and I mirror them sometimes."

Gratitude is a word that Brandwene spoke about at Wednesday's media availability. And, for Whitlinger and Ehresmann, having that trait while competing and sharing time is integral to Penn State's success this season.

Just two years ago, Whitlinger laced up her skates as a freshman. She knows what adjustments need to be made to find success at the collegiate level. As a result, she has taken the necessary strides to mentor the younger Ehresmann.

"[Whitlinger] has definitely helped me a lot," said Ehresmann. "She's taught me the ropes of what we do before the games...and other specific goalie things."

Brandwene echoed the words of Ehresmann when asked about Whitlinger's leadership.

"[Whitlinger] sets a tremendous example," said Brandwene. "She's a terrific worker, and she just comes to work everyday in practice and gets better and better."

Penn State's season commences with a challenging road trip to Minnesota this weekend. Tonight the Nittany Lions take on the top-ranked Golden Gophers and tomorrow night the Blue and White go against St. Cloud State. Both games will take place at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis.

Whitlinger is expected to start in net against Minnesota and Ehresmann the nod versus St. Cloud State.

"I like where our team is right now, and I'm looking forward to the 60-minute challenge," said Brandwene.

"[Whitlinger] has definitely helped me a lot," said Ehresmann. "She's taught me the ropes of what we do before the games...and other specific goalie things."

Brandwene echoed the words of Ehresmann when asked about Whitlinger's leadership.

"[Whitlinger] sets a tremendous example," said Brandwene. "She's a terrific worker, and she just comes to work everyday in practice and gets better and better."

Penn State's season commences with a challenging road trip to Minnesota this weekend. Tonight the Nittany Lions take on the top-ranked Golden Gophers and tomorrow night the Blue and White go against St. Cloud State. Both games will take place at Ridder Arena in Minneapolis.

Whitlinger is expected to start in net against Minnesota and Ehresmann the nod versus St. Cloud State.

"I like where our team is right now, and I'm looking forward to the 60-minute challenge," said Brandwene.

 

By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Recording an assist on the team's first goal of the season and scoring two unassisted goals at first glance may seem like an offensive upperclassmen's opening to the 2014-15 season.

However, it was freshman defenseman Bella Sutton who produced the previously described 'dazzling performance' in her Penn State debut to lead the Nittany Lions to a 5-2 victory over Western in Friday's exhibition at Pegula Ice Arena.

"My teammates definitely rallied around me and gave me the confidence that I could step into the role of being that offensive defenseman when I could be," said Sutton. "It's really good to have their support. It's always been in my blood wanting to join the rush and take it when the opportunity presents itself."

 The Shoreview native took advantage of a first period 5-on-4 power play to set up Laura Bowman with a beautiful pass en route to the very first Blue and White goal of the game.

It only makes sense that Bowman scored the first goal of the season. The sophomore assistant captain was named to the 2013-14 All-CHA Rookie Team after leading the Nittany Lions with ten goals last season.

Just three minutes after Bowman buried the biscuit, Sutton joined the offensive rush following an odd ricochet off the boards behind the Western net to notch an unassisted goal on a slick wraparound to push the Nittany Lions ahead, 2-0.

Sutton wasn't done after just one period of play. Rather she used a blistering snap shot from the slot to tally her second unassisted goal of the game to give Penn State a 3-1 lead with 12:13 remaining in the second period.

"I'm really, really proud of her," said junior captain Shannon Yoxheimer. "She played awesome. Her performance says a lot about her character because she is so hard working. She's a stay-home 'D' when she needs to be and then when she can join the play she doesn't hesitate and good results happen."

Sutton chose Penn State due to its rich balance of academics and athletics, but it was her vision and footwork that led to head coach Josh Brandwene recruiting her to the Blue and White.

"She's a tremendous athlete and an even better teammate...She's a terrific two-way defender with great footwork," said head coach Josh Brandwene.

The Nittany Lions pulled away 3:25 into the third period when junior Hannah Hoenshell scored on a pass from freshman Irene Kiroplis to give Penn State a 4-2 advantage.

Penn State refused to slow down as Emily Laurenzi shot a crisp pass to junior line mate Micayla Catanzariti for a top-shelf beauty past the glove of Western's goalie to give the Blue and White a commanding 5-2 lead nearly nine minutes into the final period.

The Mustangs managed to muster two goals past Penn State junior goalie Celine Whitlinger in the second period, but it wasn't enough to skate by the well-orchestrated Nittany Lions.

Although Friday's game was an exhibition, a three-goal win to start this season shows just how progressive this program is under Brandwene.

"The mindset is to build and get better," said Brandwene. "This is an incredibly coachable group that is hungry to learn and get better."

Next up for the Nittany Lions will be a competitive weekend series October 3-4 in Minneapolis, Minn., where Penn State will faceoff against Minnesota on Friday and St. Cloud State on Saturday.

"When we get our opportunities on the power play we are going to have to get the puck to the net and take those chances because Minnesota is a very good team, and we know that when we get those opportunities we are going to have to capitalize," said Yoxheimer.