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Happy Thanksgiving from Penn State Athletics

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - 'Tis the season for giving thanks, and the Penn State Athletics would like to take an opportunity to say thank you to the loyal fans on Thanksgiving.

As you sit down with family and friends to eat your traditional meal while the Lions and Cowboys host their annual Thanksgiving day home games, Penn State Athletics would like to thank you, the fans, for the unrivaled support you give every team on campus.  Penn State's teams would not be the same without the greatest fans in college sports.

As a token of their appreciation, several student-athletes from teams on campus would like to say thank you and Happy Thanksgiving for the support you give them throughout the athletic season.

Coach Brandwene Update

By Tyler Feldman, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Those close to freshman forward Aly Hardy know that she is a well-rounded individual. She is not only a dedicated hockey player, but also a saxophone player and dancer.

Her smooth saxophone and dance abilities translate well onto the ice where she displays orchestrated skating with her line mates, as well as a unique barrel of stick handling skills.

She is making the most of her opportunities and impacting play through her constant progression, feisty play and work ethic.

The St. Albans, Vermont native has seen playing time in the past four games has jazzed up the program and was a contributor to three Blue and White wins during that four-game span.

Her hard work even translates into the players lounge at Pegula Ice Arena where she enjoys competing in 'Just Dance' on Xbox and at the Ping-Pong table, as well.

"Well I play ping pong mostly with [Hannah] Bramm because I can't play against Jill [Holdcroft] anymore because she makes me mad," said Hardy.

In fact, according to Hardy, the aforementioned statement is her favorite aspect of the state-of-the-art Pegula Ice Arena.

"I'd probably have to say the lounge," said Hardy. "The couches are really comfy, and I really like how we have Xbox and we play 'Just Dance' sometimes and the ping pong table definitely."

Music, dancing and ping-pong aside, Hardy intends to continue to jazz up Penn State as she progresses into a more experienced performer on the ice. 

By Tyler Feldman, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State women's hockey concluded the weekend on a high note with a 3-2 overtime win over RIT on Saturday. Head Coach Josh Brandwene continues to commend the freshmen class on their consistency on the ice.

"They just continue to grow every single day," said Brandwene. "The effort is always there. The poise continues to get better with great jobs at both ends of the ice, and a tremendous performance by Hannah [Ehresmann] in net."

Caitlin Reilly, CHA Rookie of the Week, boosted the Nittany Lions with two goals on Saturday including the game-winner in overtime. Reilly's first goal came in the first period with assists from Amy Petersen and fellow freshman Remi Martin. However, Reilly's game-winning goal was a total team effort.

"Great pressure at the offensive blue line by Amy Petersen," said Brandwene on how the play started. "Just a really smart hockey play with a nice chip and support from Laura Bowman. And, a great heads up play by Laura to feed Caitlin in the slot. Caitlin stuck with it and on her second opportunity threw it on net, and when you put pucks on net great things happen."

Making the necessary adjustments from a loss to skate to victory the next day speaks volumes to the type of program Brandwene and his players are creating.

"It says everything about the team family environment that we have," said Brandwene. "They are a great group. They bring tremendous enthusiasm and a great effort to the rink. We have a great group of leaders and veteran players who are tremendous veteran leaders for them."

Not only have the freshmen shined but also special teams.

Penn State's penalty kill was perfect against the Tigers, holding them scoreless on six opportunities. According to Brandwene, Bowman, Petersen, Emily Laurenzi, Micayla Catanzariti, Hannah Bramm, and Sarah Nielsen continue to positively progress on the disadvantage.

"A great week of practice from the penalty kill this week and an excellent effort on Friday and nice adjustments as well on Saturday," said Brandwene. "Great effort. Great poise. Great adjustments."

After going 0-for-3 on the power play in Friday's loss, the Blue and White scored on the player-advantage in Saturday's win. Freshman defenseman Bella Sutton netted the game-tying goal while on the power play with 5:06 in regulation.

"They remain patient and poised," said Brandwene on his power play. "We had good looks all weekend, and they made some just nice, simple adjustments to find some open space and open lanes, and I'm really proud of their effort, as well."

After nearly a month away from home, Penn State finally returns to Pegula Ice Arena this upcoming weekend for a two-game conference series against Lindenwood.


By Tyler Feldman, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Already 12 games into the season, Remi Martin from Littleton, Colo., has positively impacted Penn State's defense. She's a big reason why the Blue and White are allowing just two goals per game.

College Transition

Transitioning to collegiate play can be challenging, but for Martin, having junior Jordin Pardoski as her defense partner has smoothened the process.

"I've definitely learned to be a little bit more mature, communicate better, and be open to her constructive criticism," Martin said about what she's learned from Pardoski.

Martin has certainly taken a hefty load of advice from her defense partner, but she has also taught Pardoski a few things, too.

"I've learned a lot from [Martin] even though I'm older," said Pardoski. "She's a great player on and off the ice. Just communicating wise I've learned from her style of play. We play really well together on the ice, so we accommodate each other."

Building Chemistry

Having chemistry on the blue line is integral to defensive success for the Nittany Lions. Still early in the season, Martin and Pardoski have developed into one of the strongest defense pairings in the CHA.

"We mesh well because at the same time we're both defensive-minded," said Martin. "She trusts me and I trust her with the puck, so we both support each other."

It's not just her relationship with Pardoski that makes the team so special to Martin. In fact, the freshman finds it unique that she relates well with all of her teammates.

"It's really welcoming here," said Martin. "Everyone on the team I relate with individually on a different level."

Martin brings a skilled and physical presence to the team. She's blocked 12 shots in addition to tallying one assist thus far. She notes the reason for her early success is due to her communication development.

According to head coach Josh Brandwene, Martin is a "multi-dimensional defender" who balances her skills evenly in both the defensive and offensive zones. She is a strong skater with excellent vision, a hard shot, and the ability to create puck movement.

Favorite Parts of Penn State

It doesn't matter if she's on or off the ice, Martin simply enjoys being around her teammates.

"My favorite thing about Penn State is definitely being around my team because I love my team," said Martin. "And I would say coming to the rink everyday and practicing and just feeling the camaraderie with everyone on the team.

Her favorite part about Penn State is one thing, but playing in the state-of-the-art Pegula Ice Arena presents another area of campus that Martin finds attractive.

"I would definitely say the training room," Martin said about her favorite part of Pegula Ice Arena. "I go in the hot tub a lot, and I go in the ice bath a lot."

Forward Thinking

Despite being just a freshman, Martin is playing at a skill level that is progressing at a fast rate. Expect her to continue to be a dynamic mainstay on the blue line for the Nittany Lions. 

By Tyler Feldman, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Not only did Penn State (5-4-3) claim its first road series sweep in program history this past weekend, but the Nittany Lions also continued their offensive surge by scoring nine goals in just two games against Colgate (2-7-0).

Playing both games at Starr Rink in Hamilton, N.Y., the Blue and White were the real stars in the two-game weekend series.

A total team effort," said head coach Josh Brandwene. "Great intensity. Great poise. Great focus. Really pleased with the effort this weekend."

The top line of Amy Petersen, Laura Bowman and Hannah Hoenshell scored seven of nine goals to lead Penn State's brushing of Colgate.

Their results speak directly to their process and their effort," Brandwene said in regards to his top line. "They're competitive people. They just continue to work hard and get better every day."

In Friday night's contest, Penn State used a four-goal second period to paste Colgate, 6-4. The top line totaled five goals, with Bowman and Hoenshell each scoring twice and Petersen scoring once.

Shannon Yoxheimer was another Nittany Lion to score in Friday's high scoring affair on a gorgeous move through three Raiders to find the back of the net.

Fantastic move," said Brandwene. "Fantastic burst of speed. She too and her line continue to get better every day. Their process is excellent, and they are seeing the results as well, and that's a great thing for our hockey team."

While offense was the focus in game one, Saturday's venue featured discipline on defense as the Nittany Lions squeezed Colgate, 3-1.

"Our decision-making on Saturday was outstanding, and that's something that we want to continue to build on," said Brandwene.

Trailing 1-0 after one period of play, the Blue and White used two-second period goals from Bowman to regain the lead. Then, an empty netter from Sarah Nielsen sealed the rinsing of the Raiders, 3-1.

The adjustments that Penn State made on defense after the first period allowed the Nittany Lions to find success in the final 40 minutes of play.

"The team did a great job of sticking with the game plan, maintaining focus on the process, and it was a terrific team effort," said Brandwene.

With 12 games under their belt, the Penn State freshmen continue to make strides on and off the ice. In the two weekend wins, first-year defenseman Bella Sutton blocked six shots, while fellow rookie Caitlin Reilly tallied an assist on Yoxheimer's goal in the Friday's game.

"As a group they continue to get better," said Brandwene. "They're very hard working, very coachable and their process continues to be excellent as well."

Since taking the head coaching reigns three years ago, Brandwene is very pleased with the progress his team has made since its inaugural Division I season in 2012.

"It is a great pleasure for me to watch the student-athletes in our program get rewarded for their hard work," said Brandwene. "I'm grateful every day for the opportunity to work with this fabulous group of student-athletes."

The Nittany Lions return home to practice this week before traveling to Rochester, N.Y. to face off against conference foe RIT on Friday and Saturday.

By Tyler Feldman, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Left winger Amy Petersen may don the number nine on the back of her Blue and White jersey, but it's the number eight that stands out through ten games played this season.

The sophomore from Minnetonka, Minn., has already netted eight goals (three power play goals) on the year to lead Penn State's offensive attack. 

"Our team as a whole puts a lot of work in the weight room and work really hard on conditioning and getting stronger," said Petersen. "A lot of that has helped me score more goals."

Prior to Penn State

Prior to Penn State, at Minnetonka High School, Petersen accumulated 70 goals and 118 assists over the course of four years playing on a team that earned four straight Lake Conference titles and won three straight Minnesota High School AA championships.

Despite scoring all of those goals in high school, Petersen says that she has never really been considered a goal scorer.

I actually haven't really [been known as a goal scorer]," said Petersen. "A lot of high school and even freshman year I was more of a playmaker, getting more assists and trying to set up my teammates."

Development of Goal-Scoring Mentality

As a freshman last year, Petersen assisted on ten Nittany Lion goals, but scored just five of her own.

The five-foot-four forward has already surpassed her freshman goal total by three. She's not quite sure what has changed over the past year, noting that some luck has certainly been involved, but that the coaching staff has helped immensely.

Well, I wasn't scoring at the end of last season, so I was talking with the coaches and telling them that I wanted to stop in front of the net more because a lot of the times I'd just fly by and swing to the corner," said Petersen. "By stopping in front, there are a lot of rebounds and garbage goal opportunities."

When you watch Petersen orchestrate offensive chances on the ice, it is sometimes hard to believe that she is only a sophomore. Her vision, speed and performance make her appear as an upperclassman.

"She's got a tremendous number of reps under her belt," said head coach Josh Brandwene. "She does a great job for us both with the puck and without it. She does great work on the power play and penalty kill. I'm really pleased with the effort that she puts in." 

Sixth Sense

Line mate familiarity has certainly catapulted Petersen to the top of the scoring sheet. Sophomore center Laura Bowman has played alongside Petersen since the two were little and right winger Hannah Hoenshell has meshed comfortably on the top line alongside the two Minnetonkans.

"Hannah and Laura have made a lot of great passes to me and given me chances to score," said Petersen. "The three of us have worked well together the last two years. We have a lot of chemistry between each other, and so we know where each other is going to be, which helps a ton."

Bowman has tallied two goals and seven assists, while Hoenshelll has added two more assists to round out Penn State's number one line.

According to Brandwene, his top line possesses an additional form of communication that makes them so difficult to stop.

"They have a sixth sense, silent communication piece that makes them incredibly effective," said Brandwene.

Looking Ahead

With eight goals and three assists already, Petersen doesn't expect to slow down and neither does her head coach.

"She's a great competitor," said Brandwene. "She's a great teammate. She loves this school. She loves this program. She's a great student as well and that's a fabulous thing."

However, only one thing is on Petersen's mind as she and her teammates look forward to a two-game road series against Colgate this upcoming weekend.

"We're trying to get goals for our team," said Petersen. "If the pucks in the back of the net we are all happy."

By Tyler Feldman, Student Staff Writer
Penn State displayed a terrific response on special teams this past weekend against Syracuse as all three Nittany Lion goals ­were scored via the power play and the penalty-killing unit allowed just one Orange man advantage goal.

In its first CHA series of the season, Penn State (3-4-3, 0-1-1 CHA) fell to Syracuse (2-3-5, 1-0-1 CHA) on Friday night, 3-1, and tied on Saturday afternoon, 2-2.

"I'm really pleased with the overall effort," said head coach Josh Brandwene. "We got great play from both sides of special teams, power play and penalty kill. I love how we've responded to adversity on the road."

In Friday's contest Amy Petersen netted the team's first power play goal of the weekend. With assists from Laura Bowman and Bella Sutton, Petersen managed to even the score in the second period, before falling, 3-1.

Success on the power play continued into Saturday for the Nittany Lions as Bowman scored a special teams goal of her own to tie the tie the game in the first period, 1-1. This time around it was Petersen and Sutton with the assists.

After a Syracuse penalty with 4:20 left in the third period, Petersen notched her second power play goal of the weekend with assists by Bowman and Shannon Yoxheimer to tie the Orange, 2-2.

"It's great battles for loose pucks and maintaining zone possession time by the power play," said Brandwene. "Great communication and great vision seeing passing lanes and great poise, as well."

While Petersen pushes her goal total to eight on the season, as a team, the Nittany Lions converted on 43% (3-for-7) of their man-advantage opportunities against Syracuse.

"Certainly the success on the power play was big for us," said Brandwene. "I really, really feel good about the effort and response that we're getting. It's a total team effort out there for us."

The Penn State penalty-killing units played disciplined hockey, allowing just one Orange power play goal in six attempts.

"On the penalty kill, really good job with skating up ice and great job shutting down lanes," said Brandwene.

With such balanced play on both sides of special teams against Syracuse, Brandwene is certainly pleased with the development and progression of the power play and penalty kill so far this season.|

"It speaks to how coachable they are, and they deserve all the credit for the continued progress we are making on both sides of special teams," said Brandwene. "The continued attention to battling for every loose puck. Winning those 50/50 battles and just sustaining the intensity."

Notable first-year performances this weekend go to defenseman Bella Sutton who tallied two assists on the weekend and goaltender Hannah Ehresmann who stopped 50 shots in Friday's tie.

Having played ten games so far this season, Brandwene is happy with the adjustments and growth of the many freshmen.

"Our freshman class continues to grow," said Brandwene. "They learn. They work. They're willing to get better. I'm really appreciative of their efforts at the start of our season here."

Coach Brandwene Interview

By Tyler Feldman, 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, 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, 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.