Recently in Women's Hockey Category

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. 

 
By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It's been more than six months since the Nittany Lions were on the ice together. 203 days to be exact. But this past Saturday the Penn State women's ice hockey team embarked on its 2014-15 campaign.

The transition from a club team to a Division-I program a mere three seasons ago trickled into last year as the Blue and White finished just 4-29-3. However, as third-year head coach Josh Brandwene and his Nittany Lions   enter their third season as a varsity program, the energy in the first week of practice has been very high.

"Things have been really good," said junior captain Shannon Yoxheimer. "The momentum has been at a really, really high pace. It's been really competitive, and it's a really good environment to come to practice to everyday."

Practice has incorporated half-ice and full-ice game situations as well as conditioning drills. From a coaching perspective, the year has gotten off to a progressive start.

"The effort, the intensity, the pace, and the enthusiasm are exactly where we want it right now," said Brandwene. "Lot's of work still to do. Any a number of things to work the kinks out of and clean up, but we're making good progress."

A big reason why practice has started so smoothly is due in large part to the newly appointed leadership. Yoxheimer and fellow junior Jordin Pardoski were voted on by their fellow teammates as the captains this season, while junior Sarah Wilkie and sophomore Laura Bowman both earned assistant captain duties.

"We're all honored that we were voted by the team to be captains, and we hope that we can represent the team well," said Bowman.

And, despite earning team leadership honors, the two captains and assistants plan on acting the same on and off the ice as they have in previous seasons.

"It doesn't really mean anything different than we were last year and in previous seasons," said Pardoski. "It's just us stepping up and being able to be leaders vocally or leading by example."

Although a letter distinctively separates the four captains from the rest of the team, according to Yoxheimer, each player on the squad adds a unique characteristic that makes for a well-rounded group.

"We have a lot of good leaders on the team who aren't captains, too," said Yoxheimer. "It adds to the whole environment of the team. Just having other leaders creates a positive ripple effect with everyone."

Penn State's first game of the season is this upcoming Friday, and due to the lengthy offseason, the Nittany Lions have been anticipating this game for a long time.

"We've been preparing for this since the end of the last season," said Wilkie. "Everyone has been thinking about this day and really focused and excited to get to the game Friday."

Even though the game Friday is simply an exhibition, the competitive ambiance that has overtaken the Nittany Lions has created a game-like mindset for the contest.

"We are not looking at Friday's game as an exhibition game," said Pardoski. "We are acting like Friday's game is our first real game of the season. We're pumped and ready to go for the game."

The puck drops at Pegula Ice Arena at 8:00 p.m. on Friday as the Penn State's season commences against the Western Ontario Mustangs.

"It's so great to be rocking and rolling now," said Brandwene.

Barbour Eager to Lead Penn State Athletics

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 18th of August cannot come soon enough for Sandy Barbour.

Introduced as Penn State Director of Athletics on Saturday afternoon, Barbour is thrilled to begin her tenure as the leader of an athletic program that aspires to continue its long history of excellence on and off the field of play.

"When you spend a professional lifetime serving institutions and most importantly students, you dream about coming to a place like Penn State," Barbour said. "You dream about the opportunity to lead a program like Penn State athletics. Why? Because it represents the opportunity to have it all: Athletic excellence, academic achievement, community engagement and fiscal responsibility. So thank you, Eric [Barron]. I am absolutely thrilled, over the top excited about this opportunity and about being the athletic director at Penn State."

A graduate of Wake Forest where she was field hockey team captain, Barbour grew up on the East Coast and has always had a deep passion for Penn State University and its athletic department. That's what drew her to the position when she originally spoke with President Barron about the opportunity.

Immediately, Barbour felt a connection with the people, pride and remarkable accomplishments of Penn State University and its athletic department.

"I love the 'We Are Penn State.' I particularly love what it stands for. It stands for family," Barbour said.

Barbour desires to see national titles in all 31 sports on campus. But first and foremost, she will strive to lead a department with student-athletes who are elite performers in the classroom.

"We are athletic programs again that are all part of a university," Barbour said. "Our student-athletes will be students first, Penn State is incredibly proud of the academic performance of their students and we will continue to be."

Eager to hit the ground running when she begins her duties as athletic director in 23 days, Barbour wants to learn from everyone in the department, especially the head coaches leading Penn State's 31 athletic teams.

"Unity doesn't mean one opinion, and I actually embrace that, embrace the diversity of opinion, diversity in a variety of different ways, and I actually think that will make us stronger in our ability to move forward," Barbour said. "As I said before, I have something to learn from everybody, and I'll be doing a lot of listening."

Numerous head coaches were in attendance at Saturday's introductory press conference. The coaches and athletic department staff then had a chance to mingle with Barbour at a private reception before she boarded a flight to Chicago for Big Ten meetings. The head coaches in attendance exuded great confidence in the future direction of the athletic department.

"There is a culture, history and tradition of tremendous academic achievement at Penn State and that will continue," said head football coach James Franklin. "I know it's important to our president, athletic director and all of our coaches. That will continue. I know we'll spend as much time as we need to so we can start building."


"I am truly thrilled that Sandy Barbour will serve as the next athletic director for Penn State," Lady Lions head coach Coquese Washington said. "Sandy is a strong, dynamic and passionate leader. She is also an incredibly smart visionary and strategic thinker. It is exciting to imagine all the ways Penn State University, and Penn State athletics in particular, will be positively impacted by her leadership."

"I loved everything I heard today," head women's hockey coach Josh Brandwene said. "She has passion, vision and just a great understanding of the Penn State community. Both as a head coach and as an alumnus, I am really excited to start working with her."


Barbour will return to California in the coming days to prepare for her full-time return to Happy Valley on Aug. 18, and the new leader of Penn State Athletics is fired up to get started.

"We are Penn State. I'm all in. I'm ready to get going," said Barbour.

 


Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

VIDEO: Pegula Ice Arena Playing Surface Set for Year Two

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The playing surface inside Pegula Ice Arena was a hub of activity on Wednesday as a crew worked to paint the lines and center logo in preparation for the 2014-'15 season.

Led Chris Whittemore, head of facilities management at Pegula Ice Arena, the line painting on the surface took roughly four to six hours, while the intricate process of putting the ice back into the arena takes a few days before it is at the ideal thickness for competition.

Whittemore said the crew of six to eight people installs four to five layers of water (ice) before applying three coats of white paint. Another five to six layers of water are added before the lines, logo and creases are painted. From there, the crew seals the playing surface before adding an inch to an inch and a half of ice to build thickness, a process that takes three to four days. The ice then strengthens over time as more skating takes place on the surface.

Penn State's second season inside the sparkling facility begins in the fall.







Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Players Reflect on Historic Campaign

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 2013-14 Penn State women's hockey season was monumental in numerous capacities. The young, aspiring program took leaps in its second year of existence with numerous individual and team accolades--displaying its inevitable destiny to grow in coming years.

"Our program has made tremendous steps since day one, both on and off the ice," said senior assistant captain Jenna Welch. "The opportunity of a lifetime lies at our fingertips. I can see this program accomplishing something big in the future."

The Nittany Lions completed their inaugural season in Pegula Ice Arena with a 4-29-3 overall record and a 1-18-1 record in College Hockey America play. Despite the uneven tilt in results, the Blue and White showed grittiness and resilience throughout the season, providing promise for the future.

"There have been a lot of underclassmen stepping up as leaders and they're a very hard working group of girls," said senior captain Taylor Gross. "I am very confident in the girls on the team now and I am so excited to see them grow as players and people even more than they already have."

The season officially came to a close for head coach Josh Brandwene's squad the first weekend in March after the Lions were swept by RIT in the first round of CHA playoffs. Just like many of the games throughout the regular season--the Lions hung with their opponent until the final whistle in the playoffs.

At season's beginning in October, Penn State leaped out to a promising start. With a tie and a win in the first weekend at Vermont, the team returned to Pegula Ice Arena for an eight-game home stand to christen the state-of-the-art facility and in the second ever women's hockey game in the new arena, Penn State earned its first home win behind a third period power play goal from freshman Laura Bowman.

Offense
Midway through the second full season of Division I play, the offense hit a bit of a lull, but regained its stride in the tail part of the schedule.

"I think that our offense performed very well this year besides the drought in the middle of the year," Gross said. "We improved throughout the entire year."

In all, 12 Nittany Lions registered a goal while 19 student-athletes tallied at least one point. By far the most promising aspect of the offensive unit was the production from younger players.

Bowman, a freshman, led the team in goals with 10 and ranked second with 16 points, earning her a spot on the CHA All-Rookie Team. Fellow freshman Amy Petersen ties for fourth on the team with five goals and 15 points, with sophomore Hannah Hoenshell leading the way in points for the Blue and White with 17.

Despite the success from the underclassmen, the senior leaders wished they had seen even more from the whole team.

"For the most part I feel like we did a decent job [converting our scoring chances], but we definitely could have capitalized on a few more opportunities to bury the puck," Welch said. "Just watching the way we moved the puck in the playoffs compared to the beginning of the season says a lot about the work ethic of our team and coaching staff in trying to improve every day."

Defense
Defensively, Penn State displayed composure from top to bottom all year. Graduate student Lindsay Reihl mentored freshman Kelly Seward throughout the season as they challenged one another to become better overall players every single day.

"Overall, our defense has a lot of depth," Gross said of her teammates.

The team totaled 594 blocked shots this season to help out goalkeepers Nicola Paniccia and Celine Whitlinger. The nearly-600 blocks dwarfed the opponents' total of 398. Seward led the way for the Blue and White with 57 blocks to her name in a very impressive freshman season and her counterpart Reihl ranked second 55.

In Paniccia's senior campaign, she saved 773 shots while posting a .913 save percentage in 22 starts. Oddly enough, Whitlinger's save percentage matches that of her senior mentor as the sophomore turned away 559 opponent shots and earned three of the team's four wins.

Sky's the Limit
The maturity and determination within this young team and even younger program provides light for the future in Hockey Valley. Penn State was awarded the Team Sportsmanship Award by the CHA at season's end while Gross earned the Individual Sportsmanship Award in the conference.

Players and coaches will look back at monumental events like move-in day to Pegula Ice Arena, the first game in the 'New Den' and a record-breaking crowd in the Lions' Skate for the Cure game. All of these point towards a bright future for the second year program.

"I will always be so appreciative of the opportunity to have played at this amazing university," Welch said. "T
he experience I had here has helped build me into the person I am today, and is one I will remember for the rest of my life. I encourage the girls to always remember how blessed they are to have this opportunity and enjoy every second of being at Penn State."

 

--NITTANY LIONS--

Reihl's Poise, Consistency Prepares Lions for Future

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the Penn State women's hockey team is preparing for the College Hockey America Tournament, some student-athletes can't help but reflect on their careers that are nearing an end.

"This team has meant the world to me throughout my Penn State career," said graduate student Lindsay Reihl.

The assistant captain has appeared in all 69 games that the Nittany Lions have played since moving to the Division I level of competition in 2012-13. Her consistency, durability and gritty efforts have been a cog in the Blue and White's defense since the birth of the program and she earned the "A" patch prior to the 2012-13 campaign.

"She has had a fabulous run here at Penn State," said head coach Josh Brandwene. "She's been at her best when she is making consistent simple decisions and I've been really pleased with her play and her efforts these past years. She is someone with experience and is a veteran Penn Stater so assistant captain was a great fit for her."

On and off the ice, the 5-foot-4 defender has helped her team grow into the best, cohesive unit that it can be. She joined the club team in 2009 as a freshman and earned Defensive Player of the Year honors her freshman, sophomore and junior campaigns.

"I watched this team grow from the club level to the varsity level and being a part of that was something that was unique and is a huge part of me and my identity here,' Reihl said.

Currently earning her master's degree in academic counseling, Reihl plans to remain in Happy Valley the next few years to complete her degree and then pursue a career as an educational counselor at the high school level. This is her last season competing collegiately, but she knows that the sport of hockey and Penn State will stay close to her for a lifetime.

"There are girls on this team that I know I will be lifelong friends with," she said. "I'm sure I'll play hockey in the future because I'll always be playing hockey...but nothing will compare to this level or playing at Penn State."

Reihl's impact on the coaching staff and her teammates has been undeniable in her time wearing the blue and white.

"Her poise and how she conducts herself as a mentor has been very beneficial for this young team and I am very appreciative," Brandwene said.

"Lindsay has been there for me the whole season and she has really helped me develop and taught me a lot," said freshman defender Kelly Seward.

Reihl is one of five student-athletes that will be suiting up for the last time this season. Seniors Taylor Gross, Jenna Welch, Nicole Paniccia and graduating junior Tess Weaver join her. Although the program is young, these departing Nittany Lions are confident that team will continue to grow after they graduate.

"The younger girls on this team are absolutely going to carry the team for the next few years and it is going to continue to develop into an amazing program," Reihl said.

This weekend, the team heads to Rochester, N.Y., for a three-game playoff series with RIT. The winner of the series will advance to play No. 1 seed Mercyhurst in Erie, Pa.

"Heading into the playoffs--I'm excited but I'm sad that it is going to be my last handful of games," Reihl said.

Penn State dropped three of the four contests with the Tigers this season and earned a 2-2 tie against the rival squad at home in January. Friday's puck drop is set for 7 p.m., Saturday's game will begin at 2 p.m. and Sunday's game--if necessary--will also faceoff at 2 p.m.

 

--NITTANY LIONS--

Tremendous Effort Displayed on Senior Weekend

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "I think for us as seniors, we got a chance to be in a position that a lot of people aren't lucky enough to have and that's starting a new program, starting a new culture and making history," said senior goaltender Nicole Paniccia following the final home series for the women's hockey team.

Weaver-Tess.jpegPenn State came up short in both games against No. 8 Mercyhurst over the weekend, dropping Saturday's (Feb. 15) contest, 4-0, and Sunday's (Feb. 16) battle, 4-1, to the Lakers. For captain Taylor Gross, assistant captains Lindsay Reihl and Jenna Welch, and fellow seniors Paniccia and Tess Weaver--Sunday was the final time these Nittany Lions skated out in front of their home crowd.

"Obviously it is really emotional and I'm an emotional person," said Gross, who served as the program's first-ever captain. "It's been an awesome two years here and I would make the same decision over and over and over again."

The decision Gross is referring to was the choice to transfer to Penn State from Connecticut after her sophomore season. Welch and Paniccia also began their careers as Huskies and transferred in the same season that Gross did.

"The collective culture that they've created here has been outstanding," said head coach Josh Brandwene. "What they've done is 'pay it forward' for this program for years to come, and I'll never stop being grateful for that."

Following Sunday's tight contest, the senior class was honored with a ceremony on the ice in front of their teammates, families and friends.

"This was a special weekend for this program for so many reasons," Brandwene said. "With our seniors--I don't even know where to start to describe how grateful I am for their leadership and how well they've represented this program."

The weekend series was special for reasons beyond appreciating the senior class. The Blue and White put up a very impressive performance against the No. 8 team in the nation, holding the Lakers to eight goals compared to their last series in which they allowed 15.

"I've been saying this pretty consistently the past few weeks and it's who this team has become in the last six weeks," Brandwene said. "You can sharply see the 'compare and contrast' from the end of our first semester against Mercyhurst to now."

To hold the visitors to nearly half the goals as the last series in December, the Nittany Lions exhibited a calm and collected demeanor. Paniccia and fellow goaltender Celine Whitlinger turned away a combined 78 shots against the 11-time College Hockey America champions.

"This weekend was a gritty effort, especially in our defensive zone," Brandwene said. "For us to go right down to the wire with them [Mercyhurst]--that's playoff style hockey."

The only Penn State goal of the weekend was scored by sophomore Hannah Hoenshell in Sunday's contest--it was her fifth strike of the season.

The home schedule is all wrapped up for the inaugural season inside Pegula Ice Arena, but the season isn't over yet for Brandwene's squad.

This weekend the squad will head to Neville Island, Pa., to take on Robert Morris for the final regular season series of this campaign. Following that, the Nittany Lions will compete in the first round of the CHA Tournament at the conference's highest seed.

"I am going to be really sad for this experience to end but we still have games left," Gross said.

When the five seniors step off the ice for the final time, it certainly won't be the last time their presence is felt in Happy Valley.

"They are special people and they are leaving a tremendous legacy behind," Brandwene said.

 

--NITTANY LIONS--

Many Positive Takeaways From Hard-Fought Weekend

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By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's hockey team dropped two tight contests to Lindenwood over the weekend, coming up just one goal shy in each matchup against their conference foe. Saturday's (Feb. 8) showdown ended 2-1 while Sunday's (Feb. 9) barnburner ended 4-3 in overtime, both in favor of the opponent.

Hoenshell-Hannah (3).jpegSunday's overtime loss was especially heartbreaking, as the Nittany Lions dominated the third period in which they put up two goals--only to lose in overtime. In the extra frame, the Blue and White fired eight shots on goal compared to the visitors' single game-winning shot.

"When you fight that hard, that's what makes it tough," said head coach Josh Brandwene.

The Nittany Lions have been ending up on the short end of the stick in terms of shot quantity vs. their opponents this season (725 to 1,209), but that wasn't the story against Lindenwood.

Brandwene's offense posted 93 shots compared to just 54 for the visiting Lions.

"Our goal is to get ten to fifteen shots per period and we hit that mark this weekend," said sophomore Hannah Hoenshell, who assisted two goals on Sunday. "We had some good quality chances throughout the game. Obviously we didn't bury all of those chances and that is frustrating."

Hoenshell's vision on the ice is complemented by freshmen line mates Laura Bowman and Amy Petersen's ability to light lamp. Their line has established itself as a legitimate scoring threat throughout the season and has developed an undeniable chemistry.

"I think we are working really well together and they (Laura and Amy) are both doing a good job of finishing the chances they are getting," Hoenshell said. "We are all setting each other up pretty nicely."

"Hannah had her feet moving today and when she has her feet moving, she's fun to watch," Brandwene said.

This was the first home series in which Penn State truly dominated the scoreboard in shot totals and also kept the puck in the offensive zone for the majority of the battle, making the two losses particularly frustrating.

Coming up clutch in the third period of Sunday's near comeback was sophomore defender Jordin Pardoski, who scored the game-tying goal with just over a minute and a half remaining in the third frame.

"I couldn't be happier with Jordin Pardoski's play both as a defender and a leader," Brandwene said.  "She stepped up to the plate big time this weekend when the team needed her."

Pardoski's slap shot goal energized the Nittany Lion bench and gave the team momentum as they headed into the extra period. Penn State came out of the brief two-minute intermission firing on all cylinders, but couldn't fend off Lindenwood's breakaway that ended the contest.

"It was a fun game to play in," Pardoski said. "I like playing them (Lindenwood) because the defense really gets involved."

The high quality and improved quantity of shots was an impressive feat of the weekend and was something that the team will look to build on. Adding to those high shot totals on Saturday was senior assistant captain Jenna Welch, who scored her first goal of the season and the team's only goal in the 2-1 defeat.

"I'm all about effort and heart and these kids played with a ton of both this weekend," Brandwene said.

Penn State rounds out their home schedule against College Hockey America opponent Mercyhurst this weekend. Saturday's puck drop is set for 8 p.m. and Sunday's senior day showdown is slated to start at 1 p.m.

Seniors Taylor Gross, Nicole Paniccia, Jenna Welch, graduate student Lindsay Reihl and Tess Weaver, a junior who completed her degree in three years, will take the ice at Pegula Ice Arena for the final time in the blue and white uniforms.

 

--NITTANY LIONS--

By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "The people that needed to win today won today," said head coach Josh Brandwene after Saturday's Skate for the Cure game against RIT, "that's the children of THON, and Pink Zone."

Bowman-Laura (3).jpegDespite a valiant effort from the Penn State women's hockey team on Friday and Saturday, they came out of the weekend without a win. Friday's fast-paced performance earned the Blue and White a 2-2 tie while Saturday's emotional contest ended, 3-1, in favor of the Tigers.

"Certainly it wasn't the hockey result we were hoping for, but certainly a great result for two great causes," Brandwene said after Saturday's game. "I could not be more proud of the Penn State community today in their support. It warmed my heart to see that kind of support."

The two games marked the fourth and fifth games in an eight-day span for Penn State. That busy schedule included a road series at Syracuse and an away game at Princeton.

"We've expended a heck of a lot of energy these past eight days," Brandwene said.

Despite the physically trying schedule, players and coaches didn't use their fatigue as an excuse for coming up on the short end of the stick.

"Not making excuses--but after five games in eight days I think we were kind of tired," said freshman forward Laura Bowman. "We were looking for a spark in (Saturday's) game but couldn't find it until late in the third period."

The series was one of the best executed, competitively played and emotionally charged of the season for the Nittany Lions, who consider RIT a rival team. Crisp passes, fast skating and energetic play defined the weekend for Penn State.

"They are now doing the things they need to do to win a playoff series, and it's a matter of it becoming a habit and a consistent habit," Brandwene said.

The team's execution over all areas of the ice was in large part provoked by the energized, record-breaking crowd of nearly 1,800 fans on Saturday.

Many in attendance were dressed in pink or gold to support the causes of THON and Pink Zone as well as the Nittany Lions who donned pink jerseys with gold skate laces and gold stick tape.

"That was the largest crowd we've had and it was so amazing to play in front of that many people, Bowman said. "Our team really rides the waves of emotions and the fan base really helped us (on Saturday)."

Bowman notched the first goal of the game on Saturday on a laser that narrowly got by RIT goaltender Brooke Stoddart with only 13 seconds left in the period, creating an explosion of energy and emotion from the Penn State bench and the crowd.

"Whenever we score our team reacts so well to it," said senior goalie Nicole Paniccia.

Although Brandwene's squad was unable to match the three Tiger goals scored after Bowman's, the coaching staff was pleased with several facets of their game.

"It wasn't a matter of when we scored or when they scored, it was a matter of consistency," Brandwene said. "I was very happy with what I saw and how hard they fought throughout the weekend."

As the season approaches its end and the team gears up for the CHA tournament, weekends such as this one give the squad a new perspective on their skill sets and their ability to defeat a conference opponent.

"We match up well with RIT," Paniccia said. "Hopefully we get them again in the playoffs."

Six games remain on the regular season schedule, four of which are at home in Pegula Ice Arena and all of which are conference matchups.

All CHA teams qualify for the conference tournament, which begins with a three-game series on Feb. 28 at the higher seed. If the season were to end today, the Nittany Lions would head to Pittsburgh to take on Robert Morris in the first round.

Next up for Penn State is a home series against Lindenwood this weekend. Saturday (Feb. 8) and Sunday's (Feb. 9) puck drops are both set for noon.

 

--NITTANY LIONS--

Nittany Lions Playing for Something Bigger Than Hockey

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pinkblog_9656069.jpegBy Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
On Saturday, the Penn State women's hockey team will host their Skate for the Cure game against RIT with proceeds benefiting THON and WBCA Pink Zone at 2 p.m.

"This is what Penn State is all about," said head coach Josh Brandwene. "Being a part of Penn State is about being a part of something bigger than yourself."

The team will stray away from the Nittany Lions' traditional blue and white uniforms for this game in their attempt to "pink out" Pegula Ice Arena. The pink game jerseys are currently being auctioned off online with the proceeds and other donations set to benefit THON and Pink Zone. The team hosted a similar event last season, but used pink tape on their sticks instead of donning the jerseys.

"I think it's great that we get to show our support for these causes by wearing those jerseys and playing for a bigger purpose," said sophomore Jill Holdcroft.

Cancer has affected or taken the lives of countless individuals connected to Penn State athletics and the entire Happy Valley community. Events such as this game and THON exemplify the strength and sense of unity throughout the community in the fight to cure all forms of cancer.

"It is unfortunate that cancer has probably touched everyone's life in some way, shape or form," Brandwene said. "To be a part of something bigger than hockey and bigger than athletics--something that is so quintessential Penn State--is a great opportunity for us."

Penn Staters going above and beyond for philanthropic purposes isn't limited to fundraisers and charitable events. Just last week, men's hockey assistant captain David Glen completed a five-day bone marrow donation process to help save the life of a woman with leukemia. Glen underwent the donation after learning he was a match through the Match4Kim Drive in November 2012. The drive was held to support Kim Roper, mother of men's lacrosse player Drew Roper.

"Playing for Penn State means much more than just playing your sport," said freshman defender Kelly Seward. "You see things like what David Glen did and it shows what we are all about."

The disease has directly affected the vast majority of Nittany Lion coaches and student-athletes and some have even had cancer during their time at Penn State. Track and field assistant coach Fritz Spence successfully battled his case of acute myelogenous leukemia after diagnosis in 2008. Spence underwent bone marrow transplants and chemotherapy throughout his difficult road to recovery. He attributed his ability to recover to maintaining positive energy and the support he received from the tight-knit Penn State community.

Saturday's game will be the second contest of a two-game series with RIT. The last time these teams met, the Tigers took both games from the Nittany Lions in Rochester. This College Hockey America showdown on Saturday will serve as much more than another conference matchup for coaches and players.

"This game means a lot to me," Seward said. "Recently I lost my grandfather to cancer so I think it will be very special for me to play for this cause."

Fans will be admitted to Saturday's game at Pegula Ice Arena for free and are encouraged to wear pink to show their support for THON and Pink Zone. Puck drop is slated for 2 p.m. with a free skate on the main rink following the game.

"For me, not only as a coach but as an alum, being a part of a special event like this that benefits two tremendous causes is what life is all about," Brandwene said.