Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - There is, perhaps, no feat more exciting in hockey than a hat trick. It is, not incredibly rare, but certainly hard to come by. It is even more hard to come by in the world of collegiate hockey, simply due to the fact that teams don't play nearly as many games as NHL teams do. This past weekend, senior forward Micayla Catanzariti recorded just the third hat trick in Nittany Lions program history, to lead the team to their first conference win.
Catanzariti is one of the many Nittany Lions on the team this year that have been with the program for the four years of its existence. Catanzariti's style of play lends it more to a grinder's mentality, though she possesses a complete arsenal of tools. Her scoring touch was on display Saturday, as it has been all season long. She is second on the team, behind Laura Bowman, with four goals. Despite the fantastic individual effort, Catanzariti was quick to deflect the praise towards her line mates.
"Obviously it was nice to get the hat trick," said Catanzariti. "A lot of it was my line mates though and most of the plays I just found myself in the right spot at the right time."
Not only did Catanzariti record the hat trick, but as a player her scoring prowess has increased this season. She has already doubled her goal output from last season and tied her point total, with still more than half of the season to go. Catanzariti is also scoring at an impressive rate. She has put in one puck, for every three shots she has taken.
"I honestly didn't even know I was shooting at that number," said Catanzariti. "I guess I don't typically take a lot of shots in general but as far as continuing with that pace I'm focused on doing what I'm doing and what I can do."
Catanzariti was also quick to say, that although a hat trick is a cool accomplishment, the focus for her is still on winning games.
"I mean it's pretty cool, but the biggest thing is that we won the game and again, a lot of it was the people I was playing with," said Catanzariti. "It was a full team effort."
Coach Josh Brandwene, who was once again very pleased with the overall effort of the team, said he felt like it was a case of simply getting more bounces to go the way of the Nittany Lions. As far as Catanzariti's performance was concerned, Brandwene was quick to praise the totality of her game and not just the scoring aspect.
"In addition to the goal production from Micayla, her totality of her game on Saturday was outstanding," said Brandwene. "[She did] an outstanding job defensively without the puck in our end, a terrific job on the fore-check in their end and a tremendous job on the penalty kill. To me it's about celebrating the complete game and she had that on Saturday."
Catanzariti's increased play as a goal scorer this season, coupled with her well rounded abilities add yet another dimension to the Nittany Lions point producers and compliments the rest of the teams depth well. The team will head back on the road Monday where they will face St. Lawrence University. The first out of conference game will begin at 7:00 p.m., followed by a 4:00 p.m. puck drop the next day.
Recently in Women's Hockey Category
Student Staff Writer
By Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - There's no place like home. However, for the Nittany Lions women's hockey team, home is a long way away. Starting this weekend, the Nittany Lions embark on a 12-game road swing that will take them from Robert Morris, to Syracuse to Ohio State and everywhere in between. The team will not take the ice at Pegula again until January 22, 2016.
Going on the road is something that every team has to do during the course of a season, but not many teams have to deal with the sustained length of a road trip that the Nittany Lions do right now.
If you ask any athlete, he or she will most likely tell you that they like playing at home better than on the road. It is easier, it is familiar and most importantly they get to play in front of the home crowd. However, going on the road can also be a great experience. It changes things up, can help with team bonding due to the amount of time the team spends together and the ability to win on the road is something that separates the good teams from the great. The Penn State women's team is no different; they enjoy the road trips, largely in part because it provides a change of scenery for the team.
"It's a nice change up," said Laura Bowman. "Our team likes to change things up; we don't like to do the same thing over and over again. We just had a home series so it's nice to get on the road now and we always have fun as a team on these kinds of trips."
As mentioned before, the team's road trip is a 12-game swing that doesn't bring the team home game until mid-January. Still, despite the length of the trip, the longevity doesn't bother the Lions.
"I think it would definitely be nice to have a few home games sprinkled in, but we have to go on the road at some point and we are always up for the challenge," said Bowman.
The good thing about many of these trips for the team is that they are all fairly close to home; the furthest the team has to travel is a Midwest swing to Ohio State. Other than that, all of the games will take place in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. This helps to cut down player fatigue, as does the travel schedule, which has the Nittany Lions arriving at each university a day in advance.
"We always show up a day ahead of time so we have a chance to get our feet back under us, because travel can make you a little groggy," said Amy Petersen. "We usually don't travel that far and if we do, we fly like we did to Lindenwood. It's kind of tolling, but we make it work and it's our job as a student-athlete."
Not only are road trips a chance for a team to showcase their ability to persevere in a tough environment, it brings the opportunity for team bonding. It is well documented that this Nittany Lion team is as cohesive a unit as there is out there and head coach Josh Brandwene has continuously said that they all get along like family.
"They love spending time together," said Brandwene. "So honestly, that makes all of our road trips very easy. The team has a collective great sense of humor and we love every aspect of these trips."
While players sometimes have unique routines before a game, the team's routine on the road generally stays the same. Coach Brandwene said they eat all meals together, have a pregame skate and prep for the game that day.
For a team that has many times been characterized as a family, Brandwene says that each road trip is a chance to become even closer as a unit.
"Having the opportunity to spend that time together as a family, in a different environment is always a great opportunity for us," said Brandwene.
The team will have plenty of time to spend together as the road trip kicks off this Friday against Robert Morris. The Colonials are currently 3-1 in conference play and should provide an early test for the Nittany Lions. However, as it always is with the Brandwene coached team, the focus remains solely on what Penn State can control, themselves.
"Our focus is on us," said Brandwene. "We're focused on our game plan and doing what we need to do to improve and grow as a hockey team."
Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. on Friday, followed by a 3:05 p.m. start time the day after.
By Jack Milewski,
GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Sometimes a lot can go right for a team except for the outcome.
The Penn State Nittany Lions's women's hockey team had a lot go right for them this weekend against the Mercyhurst Lakers. Despite what showed up on the scoreboard, the Nittany Lions competed for three periods on both Friday and Saturday. Consistency was the name of the game for the girls and could become a possible team identity. The team is at their best when they are consistent in all three zones, and Head Coach Josh Brandwene was quick to point that out.
"That was one of the best, if not the best consistent effort that this team has produced in their four year history," said Brandwene after Saturday's 1-1 overtime tie. "Just a really great consistency and an outstanding job sticking to the game plan today. That was a playoff atmosphere and that what's it all about."
The Nittany Lions were the better team for long stretches of Saturday's game, controlling all three zones of the ice with the consistency that Brandwene mentioned. Despite the frustration of the last couple games, Brandwene says that the team's consistency and overall play are right where they need to be if the team is going to succeed.
"Keep doing what we're doing," said Brandwene. We played really well today, got a lot of scoring chances and (I) loved the intensity."
Work ethic is often the best indication of how a team does in a game, and Shannon Yoxheimer passed the work ethic test with flying colors, scoring Penn State's only goal and also providing multiple quality scoring chances for her team.
"Great job by Shannon today, just leading by example and playing hard," said Brandwene. "She really sets the tone as a power forward, using her feet and putting pucks on net, it was great to see her finally get rewarded."
And while many scoring chances went unrewarded on the weekend for the Nittany, Coach Brandwene is both pleased with the progress and confident in the team's scorers.
"We had tons of scoring chances," said Brandwene. "We had tons of pucks bounce over the net, pucks laying on the goal line and all kinds of tough breaks. You're going to have that in the course of a hockey season, we just happened to have it all at the same time right now. I've told our team, you keep working hard, you stick to the game plan, and breaks will start going your way."
Consistency seems to now be the name of the game for the Nittany Lions, and they were as consistent as they come this weekend, playing, as Brandwene said, some of their best hockey in a long time. The bounces may not be going their way, but if they continue to work hard and play consistently, good fortune will come for the Penn State women's team.
Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Four years ago, the Penn State women's hockey program was born. In the years of the team's existence, they have steadily climbed the ranks of college hockey and garnered more and more attention as each season passes. Four years ago as well, senior Jill Holdcroft had just made the decision to go to Penn State, largely because of the fact that the team had just implemented the hockey program.
Holdcroft was born in Pennsylvania Furnace, Pennsylvania, just a hop, skip and a jump from State College. Living only 20 minutes down the road, Penn State had always been a consideration for Holdcroft as to the college she wanted to attend. However, she was also a prominent high school hockey player, playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins Elitie Tier 1 AAA girls team and also playing two years for the State College High boys team, and at the time Penn State's lack of a hockey program made it a tougher decision. When Holdcroft learned that Penn State was starting a program and actively recruiting her, the decision was a no brainer.
"Penn State was always in the back of my head," said Holdcroft. "I really liked the school and as soon as they decided to have a Division I team it was kind of no comparison and I wanted to come here right away."
Holdcroft is one of the founding members of the Penn State women's hockey team, in the sense that she has been with the team from the beginning. Coach Josh Brandwene has also been with the team from the beginning and he understands just how important players like Holdcroft are to building a successful program.
"This senior class, they are pioneers," said Brandwene. "They wanted to be a part of something bigger than themselves and that's really Penn State at its core."
In her first season on the team, Holdcroft had 10 goals, second on the Nittany Lions team. However she has proved a versatile member of the team for all four years she has been here, stepping into any role she is assigned and flourishing in it.
"I not only remember her first couple years here, I remember so many details about her in the recruiting process and her willingness to improve through that," said Brandwene. "It's no secret that she is one of the most coachable players and it's a credit to her work ethic and her personality. To see her flourish as a hometown kid done good is awesome."
That work ethic shows in Holdcroft's style of play as she is constantly one of the fastest moving, hardest working Nittany Lions on the ice. This season she has been teamed up primarily with Amy Petersen and Laura Bowman. Holdcroft says she just tries to create space for her two linemates and she feels like her job is to go to the net and create traffic in front.
"I do like to get in front of the net when they are shooting just to create problems for the goalie," said Holdcroft. "In general I would definitely say that my style of play is grinding it out."
Now in her final year with the program, Holdcroft expects even better things than last year for the Nittany Lions. That outcome would be consistent with the trend that the team has followed every year so far, as they have steadily improved as a program in each of their four years.
"We have grown tremendously as a program in all four years," said Holdcroft. "Just from where we were, in the rink that I grew up in in Greenberg to coming to Penn State it's just been fun to watch the Nittany Lion hockey culture grow." "It hasn't always been easy but it's been a lot of fun and you can just look back on it as a senior and think of what an amazing journey it has been."
The Nittany Lion's journey will continue this weekend at home in Pegula Ice Arena as they take on conference foe Mercyhurst. The first game is set for a 7pm puck drop on Friday night and game two will be at 2pm on Saturday.
By Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Every sport has had their share of bloodlines that have entered and exited their respective ranks. In no sport is the family tradition deeper than in the sport of hockey. Whether you are talking about the Sutter's, Howe's or Hull's, hockey boasts a lucrative history of families who have graced the sport with skill for years on end. The Penn State women's hockey team is mixed into this discussion now thanks to one of the team's freshman standouts, Victoria Samuelsson.
Samuelsson was born in Falun, Sweden, in 1996. From birth, Samuelsson was already part of a hockey family. Her father, Ulf, played 15 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL). He is now currently the assistant coach of the New York Rangers. Samuelsson also has three brothers, Philip, Henrik and Adam. All three, like Victoria, have excelled in their respective ranks of hockey. Philip, the oldest was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins and is currently playing in Wilkes-Barre Scranton. Henrik was taken 27th overall in the 2012 draft by the Phoenix Coyotes and is currently playing for the Portland Pirates. Adam is still only 15, but is also a standout hockey player.
Growing up in a family that is as supremely talented as the Samuelsson's did nothing but aid Victoria in her hockey career. She said that since a young age she would do everything hockey related with her brothers. "I always used to play hockey with all of my brothers and they were really the ones who led me into hockey," said Samuelsson. "They have helped me all the way and helped me become the player I am now. We train together over the summers and there is a lot of friendly competition."
With Samuelsson's family, she has a plethora of resources to learn from and she says that she picks the brains of all of her family members when it comes to hockey, especially her father, Ulf. "I've learned everything from him and even my brothers as well," said Samuelsson. "He always gives me pointers and that is really helpful."
So far this season, Samuelsson has been a big part of the Nittany Lion's team. As a freshman she has seen consistent time on the ice in all facets of the game, including time on the second power play unit. Samuelsson has a unique combination of size, skill and speed that Head Coach Josh Brandwene likes. "She's smart, savvy, and very crafty with the puck and at the same time is a really big physical presence for us on the ice," said Brandwene.
Senior Shannon Yoxheimer, one of the team's captains, has played multiple series with Samuelsson as her linemate and shares Brandwene's sentiment that she is a special player. "She's a good line mate," said Yoxheimer. "She's very strong on the ice. She has good speed, a great shot and I think the biggest thing is that she sees the passing lanes really well so it's really nice to play with someone who sees the ice that well and is able to move the puck to the right spots.
There is no doubt that Samuelsson's upbringing into a hockey family has definitely contributed to her excelling with the sport at a high level, but Brandwene also believes that Samuelsson should get a ton of credit for the way that she has produced in her hockey career. "I think the hard work and what she continues to accomplish is a credit to her," said Brandwene. "I think the benefit that she has had is just being surrounded by such a bright hockey family. You can see that in her hockey IQ and her understanding of the game. So it's a combination of being surrounded by a hockey family and her hard work."
Samuelsson's hard work has put her in a position to play an intricate role in the Nittany Lions' success for years to come. If her first games in a Penn State uniform and the praise of her peers are any indication, she certainly has a bright future in Happy Valley. Penn State continues its season with a matchup against Lindenwood this Friday and Saturday. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. (CDT) both nights.
By Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Every season is a process made up of multiple outcomes. The outcomes during this time are usually based on the effort put into the process. The two work hand in hand as driving factors for every team. While outcomes are usually what fans focus on, sometimes the process is a better indication of where a team is at in terms of quality of play.
Over the weekend, Penn State lost two tough games to the University of Connecticut Huskies. The first game was a fantastic showing by the team, as they dominated play for large portions of the night and peppered the UConn netminders with shots. However, the outcome at the end of the night did not favor the Nittany Lions. Still, head coach Josh Brandwene is all about growth and the process of improvement from his team.
"They had a great game, pucks just didn't fall into the back of the net," said Brandwene. "We focused on process and I thought our process was very good."
In sports, the best team does not always win the game and one could certainly look to the game Saturday as one of those cases.
Sunday proved to be a more lucrative game for the Nittany Lions, at least in terms of scoring. The team netted three goals, one by Amy Petersen, one by Jordan Pardoski and one by standout freshman Hannah England. The women's hockey team used one of their biggest assets, speed, to their advantage in the game and swarmed the UConn Huskies for a majority of the afternoon.
"I think there was very good consistency in our footwork today and I also think there was tremendous consistency in where we needed to poses the puck in the offensive zone, I'm very happy with the growth in both of those areas," said Brandwene.
The Nittany Lions had the lead for most of the game but ended up falling to the Huskies 4-3 in what was another hard fought game. Again, though the outcome may not dictate it, the process showed that the Nittany Lions played strong hockey for both games in the series, something that was not lost on Coach Brandwene.
"They played really well both days. They strung together two really good games back to back," said Brandwene.
The season is a process, and a process that has just started for this Nittany Lions team. However, already early on, they have faced tough opponents, won some hard fought games and also faced their fair share of adversity. All of these things are key components in team growth, which is and will remain a key focal point for this team. With 26 games remaining, the Penn State women's hockey team has more than enough time left to continue the process of growth, which will in turn produce the desired outcome.
"Every team faces adversity during the year," said Brandwene. "No team goes through a hockey season without facing adversity. This is an incredibly resilient bunch and they will deal with the adversity and move forward from it."
The Nittany Lions will look to continue their season long process on the road against conference foe Lindenwood. The last time the Nittany Lions squared off against the Lions, the Nittany Lions won their first College Hockey America postseason series in program history. The team will look to continue their winning ways with puck drop of the first game slated for Friday, October 30 at 7pm.
By Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com Student
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -The Penn State women's hockey team is a very balanced program from top to bottom. That balance is evident in all four of their lines and their defensive pairings. Nowhere is that balance more evident than in net as the Nittany Lions boast a terrific goaltending combination. The team, as it did at the beginning of last season, is splitting time between goaltenders Celine Whitlinger and Hannah Ehresmann.
Whitlinger and Ehresmann have both started three games this year performing very well with .957 and .912 save percentages respectively. Both goaltenders stepped up their game this past weekend, recording the first two shutouts of the season for the Nittany Lions on back-to-back nights. This also marked the first time in program history that Penn State shutout a Division I program on back-to-back nights.
On Saturday it was Whitlinger, making all 11 saves against Union in a 3-0 victory. The following afternoon, Ehresmann stopped all 16 pucks she saw to finish of the weekend sweep with the second consecutive 3-0 victory. The two goalies battling week in and week out has helped both to elevate their game.
"They are sisters," said Coach Josh Brandwene. "They feed off each other and they both work so hard."
Though the two didn't have to work particularly hard during the weekend series because of the stellar play of their defense, whom they both credited for their successes, the work that they put in at practice every week has definitely shown through in their play this season and this weekend was a great indication of where the two goaltenders are at in terms of their play.
"You can see it in practice, how they feed off of each other," said Brandwene. "We had a pretty short practice Friday and we had some fun at the end and the two of them are hilarious just skating around and joking around with each other, it's a very genuine relationship that contributes to our team family."
The sentiment is not just felt by the head coach, but the two goaltenders also emphasize how much the two of them contribute to each other's successes.
"We always compete against each other in practice and have fun and at the end of the day were still friends and we really just help each other grow," said Whitlinger.
Brandwene, Whitlinger and Ehresmann all indicate that the competition between the two net minders does nothing but aid their play on the ice and strengthen their bond off of it.
"It definitely pushes us and at the end of the day, coach says whoever is playing best is going to start because they are obviously going to help out the team the most," said Ehresmann. "That definitely pushes us to work hard and it helps us compete against each other. We both have fun and use it as motivation and at the end of the day were still friends."
The friendly competition that goes on between the two has not just helped them, but it also helped their team earn earn two wins this past weekend. The team will hit the ice once again this Saturday and Sunday with puck drop slated for 7pm and 2pm respectively as Penn State welcomes the UConn Huskies to Happy Valley.
By Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - There are two types of leaders. There are those who lead with words. They will actively inspire their teams with speeches and use their fiery words to spark a response. Then there are those who lead by example. Though these players may tend to fly under the radar, because they are not the most outspoken individuals, they have an equally important impact as far as leaders on the team.
The Nittany Lions women's hockey team has plenty of leadership. The deep senior class has provided a solid base for all of the younger talent that the program continues to bring in. The team is full of vocal leaders, however; one of the less vocal members of the team, Laura Bowman, is still a vital part of Penn State's success and one of the team's key leaders.
Bowman has been on the Nittany Lions hockey team for three years now and really came into her own last year as a player. As a freshman, she was second on the team with 16 points. Last year she produced 30 points to lead the team in scoring. Not only has she been one of the best Nittany Lions on the ice, she is one of the most consistent as well.
"I'm not really a vocal leader, we have other vocal leaders on this team," said Bowman. "I try to show by example and work hard and do the best I can."
Bowman scored the Nittany Lion's first goal of the season against the Boston Terriers, en route to a 5-3 victory, also their first of the season. The next day in their 3-1 loss, Bowman also tallied the lone goal. However, for all she contributes to the team, Bowman will be the last person to give herself the credit first.
"I have amazing linemates and have for a while," said Bowman. "[This past weekend] was not individual at all, it was mainly team goals both times."
Bowman's teammates also recognize what she contributes to the team, both in terms of skill and leadership.
"[Bowman] and my other linemates are great," said freshman Hannah England. "They are always making me feel confident and trying to make me feel better when I have a bad shift and it helps me a lot."
This year, the Nittany Lions have possibly their most skilled team since the program started. Bowman figures to be a center piece of the team, as she was last year as this team has high hopes for the remainder of their games. No one in the program understands the importance of Bowman more than head coach Josh Brandwene.
"She's tough, she moves the puck well, she has a great shot release and she is just fearless," said Brandwene. "She is a fierce competitor and she brings it every time she steps on the ice."
Bowman's attributes on the ice are a big key as to why she is one of the Nittany Lions top producers and has been for her entire career. However, as all athletes know, preparation is key and according to Brandwene, no one does it better than Bowman.
"[She's a] great leader, tremendous student of the game and she prepares so well," said Brandwene. "She just comes to bring it every night, both defensively and offensively and I'm just really pleased that she is contributing so much to the team."
Bowman will look to continue to lead the team both on and off the ice as they prepare for their weekend series against Union at Pegula Ice Arena. Saturday's game is slated for a 7 p.m. puck drop and Sunday's game will begin at 2 p.m.
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Chemistry is key for any team, especially hockey. Though it is a fast moving game, there is still a need for communication during the whole game. This is true for the coaches on the bench, the forwards and especially the defensive corps. For the Penn State women's hockey team, like all teams, communication is a vital component to their success and something they preach. For the defense, a group that returns its entire lineup from last year, the communication aspect is already there and the cohesive group is poised to help Penn State in a big way this season.
Penn State is in the beginning of its fourth season as a Division I program and coming of its best season as a program. There are high hopes for the Nittany Lions this year, in large part due to the fact that they return 23 members from last season. As mentioned, the defensive corps remains fully intact and the Nittany Lions have added a contributor in freshman Kelsey Crow.
"She has done a fabulous job. She is incredibly poised, jumps up into the play. What I am most proud of is the preparation. She is a consummate pro when it comes to working hard in the week and preparing for the weekend," said head coach Josh Brandwene.
According to Brandwene, Crow has fit in seamlessly with the already tried and true group, a factor that is big for the Penn State Nittany Lions. Obviously goals are what show up on the stat sheet when it comes to hockey games, but when a team can shut down another defensively, that is more crucial, if not more than scoring goals. With the Nittany Lion defense returning all six members from last year, it makes that aspect of the team one that Brandwene has to worry less about.
"They continue to grow and get more comfortable with each other than they already are and as they continue to improve with communication they work better as a unit day after day," said Brandwene.
The defensive group is also in agreement when it comes to the benefit of being together for over a year now. Sophomore Bella Sutton, though she hasn't been with the team for the entirety of its existence, she is considered a veteran due to her performance in her freshman season.
"It's really important to have everyone back and Kelsey is awesome coming in. It is great to have that base where freshman like Kelsey can come in and just fit well into the system because we already have such a solid one in place," said Sutton.
Although she is considered a veteran, Sutton is only a sophomore and there are still Nittany Lions on the defense who have seniority over her. This divide in classes creates yet another good situation for Penn State because even experienced players like Sutton can have mentors who continue to help them grow as players.
"It's really important that we have these girls to look up to because if we have questions they are great mentors to look up to," said Sutton. Also, just in regards to all of them as seniors, it makes it that much easier to bring the new freshman in for us."
As mentioned, one of those freshmen is Crow, who already in one series for Penn State has shown promise as both a defensive defenseman and offensive defenseman. For players like Crow, the support group at Penn State means the most in terms of gaining a sense of comfort and stability on a Division I team.
"They have been really welcoming and I love them all," said Crow. "They have been great mentors and they point the little things out that are really key. They see things from a different perspective and I consider myself as more of a defensive defenseman so if they can let me know when they think I can jump up in the play more or anything like that it really helps."
Crow also harped on the fact that having an experienced group like Penn State does, makes it much easier to feel comfortable in a new situation.
The Nittany Lions face another tall task this coming weekend when they take on the eighth-ranked team in the nation, the Boston Terriers. Much like in the Minnesota series, the defense will be tasked with stopping one of the top offenses in the country. However, the Nittany Lions have a strong defensive corps and as they and Brandwene have mentioned they continue to grow every week and are poised to take on Boston University.
By Jack Milewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's hockey team has made team growth one of their main focal points this season. Following a season opening sweep to the number one ranked team in the nation, the Minnesota Golden Gophers, growth continues to be a key focus of the team.
"Since we started preseason, it's been a growth mindset," said Coach Josh Brandwene after the team's opening night loss. "Obviously when you work that hard and you don't get the result you're looking for, it's tough. But the growth I witnessed over the last 60 minutes was tremendous and it is something we can build on the rest of the year."
Penn State dropped its opening game of the season on the first of October, 2-0. The Golden Gophers were held in check for the most part as the Nittany Lions held tough and only gave up one goal through the first 59 minutes. Minnesota added another goal with goalie Celine Whitlinger pulled, to ice the game despite a 41 save effort from the Penn State net minder.
"Celine was absolutely phenomenal," said Brandwene. "Sharp, poised, focus, I'm incredibly proud of her."
The rest of the Nittany Lion team played solid as well, as they blocked numerous Golden Gopher shots in what Brandwene called their, "best shot blocking effort in a while." It was also one of Whitlinger's best efforts in goal, despite the final outcome.
"I felt good tonight," said Whitlinger. "I actually prefer to have a lot of shots on goal because it makes it easier to get into a rhythm."
In terms of offense, the Nittany Lions only mustered 17 shots on net as most of the play was in their own zone. Shannon Yoxheimer and Amy Petersen had a few opportunities for the Nittany Lions, but other than that the team was held in check.
"Obviously it was frustrating, but we had a few good chances we just weren't able to get a bounce and capitalize," said Yoxheimer.
In game two of the series, Hannah Ehresmann got the start in net for the Nittany Lions. Unlike Thursday's game, Minnesota came out firing on Friday night and two first period goals staked them to an early lead. The Golden Gophers outshot Penn State 17-1 in the first period.
"I think that both of our goalies have worked hard and they are extremely talented and I'm proud of both of them," said Brandwene. "We haven't had a chance to look at the tape as far as moving forward goes."
The rest of the game followed much of the same theme as Ehresmann was peppered with 38 shots on the night while Penn State only threw seven on net. Minnesota managed three goals the rest of the way to take the game 5-0 and secure the series sweep. Still, despite the outcome, Brandwene remained positive about the future.
"We're always going to try and build on the positives and our penalty kill was very good today," said Brandwene after Friday's game. "Although there were a lot of frustrating moments at first glance during tonight's game, there are a lot of controllables there that we can focus on and get better at going forward."
The Nittany Lions season will continue next weekend against Boston University as they take to the road for the first time during the 2015-16 season. The sweep against Minnesota, though not the start that Penn State had hoped for this season, was an improvement over last year's result, and as Brandwene has preached, progress and growth are at the forefront of the Nittany Lion's focus this season.
"Our mindset moving forward continues to remain to be unsatisfied with the result but focused primarily on the growth and the opportunity in front of us," said Brandwene.
The Nittany Lions series against Boston University will kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday the 9th and the second game of the series is set for a 3 p.m. puck drop on Saturday afternoon.
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