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VIDEO: One-on-one with Jeff Kampersal

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It has been a little more than a month since Penn State Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour announced that Jeff Kampersal would take the reins of the Nittany Lion women's hockey team as the second head coach in program history.

Since his arrival on campus, Kampersal has been hard at work, securing his staff and of course, hitting the road recruiting. 

Catch up with Kampersal for a closer look at what fans can expect to see in Pegula Ice Arena this year as well as a snapshot of what's to come for the Nittany Lions in terms of his coaching philosophy and what matters most.



By Tom Shively, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - The regular season has come to a close, and now it's crunch time. Every play counts, and the Nittany Lions are getting into peak shape for the upcoming CHA tournament.

The single elimination format can be tricky for some, but the Nittany Lions are used to pressure and taking things one game at a time. It's something they've been doing all season and it doesn't change now.

"Preparation is no different, I think it's always important to keep everything familiar," interim head coach Dean Jackson said. "We're just doing what we do on a day-to-day basis."

There is, however, a bit more swagger in the locker room considering the team had a strong showing the last two weeks against Robert Morris and Syracuse, the top two teams in the conference. Every game matters, and it's almost like a fresh start for this team that has battled back from its share of adversity. 

"It's exciting. It keeps everyone upbeat and keeps everyone focused," Jackson said. "Everyone knows at this point of the season, it's a do-or-die mentality and it's amazing how teams really rise to the occasion when it's that circumstance."

Penn State finished conference play with 18 points, earning the No. 4 seed in the tournament. They will take on No. 5 RIT in the first round on Thursday, a team they have had some success against this season. 

The Nittany Lions swept RIT early on the road before earning a win and a tie at Pegula Ice Arena. In the tie, Penn State trailed by four goals in the third period before mounting a serious rally to force overtime and eventually a draw.

"When we played them up there [at RIT], we played a real solid weekend, we played some really good hockey," Jackson said. "In the second half when we saw them, we played really well in the first game. In the second game, they got out on us early but it was tremendous to see us bounce back and score four goals in 20 minutes."

With a win over RIT, the Nittany Lions would face No. 1 Robert Morris or No. 2 Syracuse in the semifinals, No. 3 Mercyhurst and No. 6 Lindenwood round out the bracket. 

This year's tournament will once again be held at the HARBORCENTER in Buffalo, the site of last year's CHA tournament as well. The Nittany Lions reached the semifinals of that event, losing in heartbreaking fashion to Syracuse in triple-overtime. 

"That's important, it's familiar," Jackson said. "When you start getting into venues where there's no experience there, we don't know what it's like. It takes a settling in period, trying to get acclimated. Fortunately, we've been up there before, so there's no real curveballs being thrown at us in the facility."

Puck drop is set for Thursday at 7:30 p.m. against RIT. Should the Nittany Lions win, their second game will be some time Friday afternoon against Robert Morris, with a berth in Saturday's championship game at stake. The winner of the tournament will receive the CHA's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, which begins the following week.


By Tom Shively, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - Senior weekend has come and gone, and the Nittany Lions find themselves in a similar position to where they were one week ago. They showed growth and improvement from the first to second game, but were ultimately unable to come away with a victory against Syracuse, dropping a 5-1 decision on Friday night and a 2-0 result Saturday.

On Friday, Penn State was never able to find an offensive rhythm, being outshot by the Orange, 29-17. The lone Penn State goal came from senior forward Amy Petersen early in the third period to cut the lead to 2-1 at that point. Laura Bowman and Bella Sutton picked up the assists. 

For Bowman, the assist was her 32nd point of the season, giving her the Penn State record for points in a single season.

Ultimately, the Nittany Lions were not able to mount the comeback.

"We just needed to buckle down," interim coach Dean Jackson said. "[Our defensive zone] is something we've been very solid with in the last month or so. A couple of mishaps here and there, and they capitalized. We clean up that, we don't give up the goals that we gave up today."

Not to be forgotten Friday night was the senior ceremony postgame, as Petersen, Bowman, Kelly Seward and Sarah Nielsen were honored for all they have contributed to the Penn State program in their four years on the team. 

That senior group led a strong effort Saturday, only surrendering two goals while limiting Syracuse to 23 shots. One of the two goals cannot be blamed on the defense, as it was an empty-netter late in the third period.

"Defense is something we wanted to focus on," Jackson said. "We brought it to the attention of the team postgame yesterday and then again today in the post-video session with the team. That was something we had been really strong at in the last little while and we wanted to make a point to get back to it."

Hannah Ehresmann put in a great effort in goal for Penn State as well, stopping 21 shots and only allowing one goal. She kept the Lions in the game, but in the end, they weren't able to put enough together on the offensive end to come out with a victory. 

"I thought we played extremely well, it's just one unfortunate event that got us down," Jackson said. "We had some opportunities and we executed the game plan really well. Give their goaltender credit, she made some big saves when we had those opportunities." 

The weekend's results, coupled with Mercyhurst's sweep at RIT, cement the Nittany Lions into the No. 4 seed in the upcoming CHA tournament. They will play No. 5 RIT on Thursday with an opportunity to face top overall seed Robert Morris if they beat the Tigers. 

The arrival of the tournament means a reset of sorts, as the only thing that matters from here on out is winning hockey games. If you win, you get to keep playing. 

"There are still a lot of positives. It's a reminder that we have an opportunity to play in the playoffs in this one game elimination. Anything can happen and we're in good shape," Jackson said. 

The first game of the tournament will be on Thursday at the HARBORCENTER in Buffalo. The time of the game is yet to be announced.


By Tom Shively, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - A lifetime of hard work. An eternity of practice and workouts. Four years donning the blue and white uniform.

One series.

That's all that remains at Pegula Ice Arena as four seniors will say farewell this weekend to the building in which they made so many memories.

"My favorite hockey-related memory is when we swept Mercyhurst," forward Laura Bowman said. "They were ranked No. 6 and we swept them." 

"Not hockey related, we got back from a road trip and we made it to the fourth quarter of the Ohio State (football) game," forward Amy Petersen said. "So that was pretty cool to be a part of since that's just a Penn State thing." 

Bowman and Petersen are joined by forward Sarah Nielsen and defenseman Kelly Seward to round out the senior class, a class that has won 42 games in its time at Penn State, the most in the brief history of the Division I hockey program. 

"They've been an instrumental part of building this program for the past four seasons," interim head coach Dean Jackson said. "They're definitely going to leave their mark. They made a big impact academically, athletically, and throughout their four years the program has achieved some firsts in statistical categories. They're all a big part of that." 

The last few weeks of a season can always be hectic, especially for those about to move on from the program, but the players are doing their best to not focus on the senior festivities surrounding this series. They want all attention on their play. 

"I haven't thought about [senior day] on my own, only when other people mention it to me," Seward said. "Especially with the last couple of weekends, the team has been playing really good and hockey has been the focus." 

This series is huge in terms of momentum for the Nittany Lions, as they come off an impressive split at No. 8 Robert Morris last weekend, and have won three of the last four. Syracuse comes in comfortably in second place in the CHA, and a good showing from Penn State will certainly give them some confidence headed into the CHA tournament next weekend in Buffalo. 

"Playing them right before playoffs, it just makes us want to beat them that much more when it comes to playoffs," Nielsen said. "I love it."

Penn State currently sits a point behind Mercyhurst for third place heading into the final regular season weekend. 

More than anything though, the seniors want to go out on a positive note, understanding the opportunity they have at hand and how important it is to them to finish the job.

"We're excited for the whole weekend," Bowman said. "I think we're most excited for the game since last time we played them, we had a few girls out. This time, we have a lot of them back. We're excited to show them what we have."

"They're going to be a team that plays 200 feet, they work extremely hard," Jackson said. "They're a quick team and they compete. It's going to be a lot of similarities to what we saw last week in Robert Morris, and we're certainly up to the task." 

Don't miss the last chance to see the Nittany Lions at Pegula until the fall. The series begins today at 4:30 p.m. and concludes tomorrow at 2 p.m. Senior recognition will be held after the conclusion of tonight's game.


By Tom Shively, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - We hear it all the time in sports. It's not how you start; it's how you finish. While it may be an old saying, it certainly applies to this year's Penn State women's hockey team.

The Nittany Lions' regular season concludes with series at No. 8 Robert Morris and home against Syracuse, currently the top two teams in the CHA.

Coming off a sweep at Lindenwood last week, these series give the Lions a chance to see how they match up with the competition.

"It gives us a lot more confidence," sophomore defenseman Kelsey Crow said. "Going into these next two weekends, we're going to come out much harder and we're going to stick to our game plans and stick to what we're doing best."

With the CHA tournament less than three weeks away, the next couple weeks will be telling of how the Nittany Lions will fare in Buffalo.

They are currently slotted as the No. 3 seed and, pending a win over one of the bottom teams in the conference, they would face either Robert Morris or Syracuse in the second round and presumably the other in the championship game if they advance. 

"You want to play these teams at the end of the season," interim coach Dean Jackson said. "It gets you really prepared for that playoff, that one-game elimination. To play No. 1 and 2 really sets the tone and gets our team in the mindset of that playoff format right now."

"It really gets us in the mindset that this is playoff hockey and this is what it's going to be like," freshman forward Brooke Madsen said. "We need to come out hard every shift."

As far as this weekend against Robert Morris is concerned, the Nittany Lions are continuing to trust the process and hope to ride that momentum from the aforementioned sweep. 

"It's a pretty consistent theme for us, just be disciplined within our systems," Jackson said. "We just want to continue to keep it simple but with pace that's going to be difficult to play against. We believe that what we have in place is difficult for our opponent to counter. When you have confidence in that as well, it makes a big difference." 

Penn State also has to be smart on the offensive end, considering Robert Morris goalie Jessica Dodds is one of the best in the CHA, sporting a .922 save percentage.

"With her or anyone else, I don't think it's any mystery," Jackson said. "You want to play percentages. You have to shoot the puck to score goals. We want to get pucks on net, force her to make a save, and control some rebounds under pressure." 

The Nittany Lions are looking for a bit of redemption as well, letting the two games earlier in the season against Robert Morris slip away from them at Pegula thanks to strong performances from forwards Brittany Howard and Jaycee Gebhard. 

"They're a well-coached team, every player is a threat," Crow said. "It's not like we can take a shift off. Even though we probably want to focus on them, we're not going to change what we do because of them." 

"We just have to come out faster and stronger than them and limit their time with the puck in the offensive zone," Madsen said.

The series at Robert Morris begins tonight at 7 p.m. and concludes tomorrow at 3 p.m. The Nittany Lions are currently one point ahead of fourth-place Mercyhurst in the standings.


By Tom Shively, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - As the season draws closer to a conclusion, we take a look back at some of the bright spots that have shined throughout the year. One of those top performers on the women's hockey team this year is sophomore forward Meike Meilleur, who has stepped into a prominent role in 2017. 

After not netting a goal in her first season with the Nittany Lions, Meilleur has consistently stepped up in big moments for the team in 2016-17.  She has tallied six goals so far in her sophomore season to go along with four assists.

"I think [the key] is coming back here and knowing the ropes," Meilleur said. "Every year, the girls go as a team and you get a lot of help from the coaches. I think it's just building on confidence and overall in practice getting better every day."

The second time around is almost always a time for vast improvements, as student-athletes are past the adjustment period and can now focus on bettering every aspect of their craft. A second year of experience also helps to solidify that sense of familiarity within a program in order to take that next step in development.

"It's a lot better, coming back and knowing the 'dos and don'ts' of everything," Meilleur said. "Knowing what you're expected of, coming to the rink and just trying to get better every year."

Teammates and coaches are taking notice as well, as Meilleur has started to find her groove, which has significantly increased her confidence.

"She's really grown a lot this year, she's become a little goal scorer," senior forward Amy Petersen said. "That's great, we need that on this team. She's really found her role on the team and I think she's going to have a great next couple of years here."

"Meike is having a great year, certainly someone you can rely upon for sure," interim head coach Dean Jackson said. "It's good that she's having a breakout year, but that's what you expect of your players. Each year, it's another year of development and experience."

Jackson also touched on the second year as being one without as many questions as the players settle into every aspect of the college game.

"When you come back in your second year in particular, there's no mystery as to who your opponent is going to be, what the speed of the college game is going to be, what the environment is going to be like," he said.  "There's a lot of familiarity there so it allows you to be comfortable within the confines of that game, that weekend." 

Meilleur and the rest of the Nittany Lions have a critical stretch of six games coming up before the CHA tournament, including four away from Pegula Ice Arena. As they prepare for the final stretch, the message is simple: Keep grinding.

"We're just sticking to the basics, getting back to our game plan," Meilleur said. "We'll fine-tune everything and we're very excited. We've got a lot going for us this week."

The Nittany Lions also took advantage of having last week off in order to have that little extra rest and recuperation time as the last stretch is so vital.

"There's definitely a jump in their step," Jackson said. "It's always going to be a fun and exciting time when you have that break. It doesn't matter what level you're at, when you have that break, it gives you an opportunity to take a step back and take some of that pressure off." 

Play resumes this weekend as Penn State travels to Missouri to take on Lindenwood Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m.


By Tom Shively, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - To say five months of college hockey can take a toll on the body and mind would be an understatement. Having to be your best at all times and going out to battle twice a week begins to leave its mark after a while.

Luckily for the Nittany Lions, they have a chance to step back this week as they prepare for their final six games of the regular season. The bye week give the team an opportunity to recuperate and get set for that final push towards the conference tournament.

"We really took advantage of this opportunity to continue the flow and the pace that we've been working with all year," interim head coach Dean Jackson said. "It's an opportunity to continue to work on our game plan moving forward." 

The coaching staff took the time to work on the specifics during the off week, working with the players on skills such as trying to play the puck out of the defensive zone. 

"It's certainly a skill. A lot of times our opponents are going to pinch us so we need to protect [the puck] and pull off the wall, because that's a space that's going to be open. That's where you're going to make your play," Jackson said. 

Abby Welch was the player working on the drill during press time, but it's something several players on the team have gone through over the past few days.

As far as consistency is concerned, the team hasn't let up at all in practice, trying to maintain their high level of performance that they have done so far throughout the season. This week is seen as a time to really focus in on the team's goals and gear up for the final stretch.

"We're not really doing anything different than what we've done in the past," Jackson said. "We'd like to enjoy our time out here for sure. Obviously with a purpose, whether it's defensive zone aspects, offensive zone, neutral zone and scoring drills. Every week, we always focus on certain points so this week wasn't any different. There's a consistent theme throughout this week as there has been on weeks of games. The big thing is to keep the message positive and keep it flowing, we still want to make sure they are enjoying their time on the ice."

While the team is enjoying its time on the ice, the group will still be goal-oriented.  

"We still have some goals that we've had previous to the break," Jackson added. "This gives us an opportunity to continue working on the little aspects of our game that will make a difference. What we want to do is be prepared for every opponent that we have coming up. We definitely want to make a big run in the playoffs. When you get to the playoffs, anything can happen. Whatever happened in the regular season doesn't apply, so it's a lot of fun."

Four of the last six games are on the road, including trips to Lindenwood and Robert Morris. The Nittany Lions host Syracuse on Feb. 24 and 25 before the conference tournament begins on Mar. 2.


By Tom Shively, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - Three weeks ago, when asked about her personal goals, senior Laura Bowman talked about wanting to make it to 100 points. In the third period of Saturday's game, that became a reality as Bowman tallied her most significant point on an assist to Amy Peterson.

 Bowman had two assists in the game and is the first player in Penn State history to cross the century mark in points.

"Honestly, when it happened, I didn't realize it," Bowman said. "I knew I hit 99, but then when I hit the 100 I kind of forgot about it. Amy had such a great shot. I just threw it in front of the net and she bounced it off the post and in. I was just so happy that we were getting closer and closer to them." 

Despite Bowman's achievement, the Lions came up just a little short, losing a hard-fought 4-3 decision to the Mercyhurst Lakers. Bowman remained positive after the game, keeping her mind focused on the road ahead.

"There's a lot of hockey left, I think this team only has up to look. I think we're going to do some great things later this season and I'm going to expect some big things from everyone else too," she said.  

The result didn't come without drama, as the Nittany Lions erased a two-goal deficit early in the game and had multiple quality chances to tie the score in the third period. 

With just about seven minutes remaining, Bowman found Petersen on a centering pass to the weak side which led to a wide open shot on net that was thwarted by the glove of the Mercyhurst goalie at full extension. Not long after, a shot from the point clanked off the goalpost, one of several Penn State shots that drew iron throughout the game.

"They're game-changers," interim coach Dean Jackson said. "I think today we hit four or five posts. Give the goalie credit [on Peterson shot], she made a terrific save. Amy got a lot of wood on it and it was a rocket to the weak side. Those ones sting. You feel as if you've got it and then you just feel like you literally got robbed. But we kept going and that's excited. We didn't fold and we kept pushing." 

"It's frustrating, but it's also good to see that we're getting chances and pucks on net and really testing the goalie," Bowman said. "Yesterday, we weren't really getting that many chances, but today seeing those was really helpful. I think that our team is resilient enough to be able to handle that."

Plenty of resiliency was present at Pegula Ice Arena in the stands, as the annual Skate for the Cure game not only helped raise funds, but also recognize some of the breast cancer survivors in the crowd. The largest crowd of the season (990) welcomed the survivors with a loud ovation and made the entire afternoon very enjoyable. 

"It's always great, I love our pink game," Bowman said. "We always have such a great crowd and it's awesome to see everyone support such a great cause and we really love skating for a great cause in front of that many people." 

"That was fantastic," Jackson said. "I've only been here since the beginning of the season but that was definitely the largest crowd that I've seen. You could see the enthusiasm that they had so it was really nice to see them engaged and involved." 

Saturday also served as the final postgame skate opportunity, giving the large crowd a chance to interact with some of the players while having some fun.

The same could not be said for Friday night's game, as the Nittany Lions fell in a 6-0 defeat in the first game of the series.

"It wasn't the prettiest of games for 60 minutes," Jackson said. "Certainly a penalty-filled game and when that happens, there's no flow to the game. It's tough to build any type of momentum." 

Ten penalties in total were called on Penn State, equating to an entire period of playing with a man down. 

"We've got to move our feet, we've got to be in the right positions," Jackson said. "We've got to anticipate the plays. When we get caught out of position and don't move our feet, that's when the sticks come out for the hooks and trips and interference."

The Nittany Lions are off next weekend before starting a four-game road trip consisting of visits to Lindenwood and Robert Morris in back-to-back weeks.

As always, it's time for the Nittany Lions to keep looking forward.

"It's always difficult to walk away from a weekend 0-2," Jackson said. "I think yesterday we definitely didn't deserve that, but I think today we played well enough to be on the other side of the column. There are certainly some things we need to clean up and I'm really looking forward to tackling Monday."


By Tom Shively, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - As the temperature dropped, so did the beat on Wednesday night in Freeman Auditorium as members of various Penn State athletic teams came together for the annual SAAB Lip Sync Battle benefitting THON. 

The event, now in its second go-around, has gained notoriety because it is one of the few events throughout the year, outside of THON itself, where most Penn State teams come together to support a common cause in the same place. 

Aly Hardy, Kate Rydland and Kelsey Crow represented the women's hockey team, performing a stirring rendition of Beyoncé's "Single Ladies" in front of a packed house.

 "It's something for a great cause, we're raising money for that," Hardy said. "To be able to raise money and do something fun at the same time, to have our friends come out and make fools of ourselves, it's a lot of fun and it goes towards something so special."

Seeing the entertaining side of some of the other Penn State student-athletes is always an enjoyable experience, especially in something as fun and playful as a lip sync battle. 

"We don't get to see that a lot, so it's really special when everybody gets together. Not all teams could come out, but we had a lot of people there. It was a good turnout," Hardy said.

Unfortunately for Hardy, Rydland and Crow, they were outdone by the women's soccer team's performance of Sia's "Chandelier" which earned the top spot.

"They did a really good job," Hardy said. "We didn't get to watch it, but we saw a video after and they did really well."

 The team is helping out the community on the ice too, as this Saturday marks the return of the annual "Skate for the Cure" game at Pegula Ice Arena. The game aims to help raise funds for cancer research and is always one of the premier weekends for women's hockey.

 "It's really something special to skate for something that's bigger than you," Victoria Samuelsson said. "You realize that you have it great here and to play for them means a lot." 

"It's a big deal for this team," coach Dean Jackson said. "They hold it at a special place in their heart and they take a lot of pride in what the university does and now with the program helping out in that cause." 

Pegula will be decked out in pink, as fans who wear pink to the game will get in for free. Last year's edition of the game drew 1,373 fans, the highest total for that season.

The "Skate for the Cure" game will be at 2 p.m. Saturday against Mercyhurst. The teams also face off Friday night at 6 p.m. 

SAAB Hosts Lip Sync Battle to Benefit THON

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Filling the HUB-Robeson Center Freeman Auditorium with Penn State students and Nittany Lion student-athletes, the Student Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) hosted its second annual lip sync battle Wednesday evening.

In a full for the kids effort, the annual event benefits THON, Penn State's Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon to support pediatric cancer.

Featuring musical lip syncing acts from 11 different Penn State Athletics programs, months worth of planning and preparation finally came together in an energetic evening for a tremendous cause.

"I think it just bring out more of the sense of community that we really already have in athletics," track and field sophomore and lead event coordinator Tess Kearns said. "We're so strong all together but to be able to something for THON and see the impact that it's making every year - if we could just raise that number even a little bit on final reveal, that would be all the difference."

From lip sync covers ranging from Justin Beiber mixes to Beyoncé, Sia and School of Rock, the event, which was open to all to attend, brought laughs throughout the night with guest judges featuring director of student-athlete welfare and development Liz Johnson, director of Penn State's John Curley Center for Sports Journalism, John Affleck and Penn State Blue Band drum major Jimmy Frisbie. 


Penn State women's volleyball highlighted early with their Justin Beiber mix, followed up with women's soccer's rendition of Sia's "Chandelier" midway through the program. 

"SAAB THON is my favorite thing in the world," said SAAB THON chair Angela Widlacki, a member of the Nittany Lion women's soccer team. "Being able to come out here and see this huge crowd, it means so much to us and I know it meant a lot to our family the Messina's." 

Men's hockey and defending SAAB lip sync battle champion wrestling closed out the evening lip syncing to a pair of movie tunes featuring "Zach's song" from School of Rock and "Breaking Free" from High School Musical. 


With the final scores tallied, the panel of judges voted Penn State women's soccer duo of Widlacki and Liisi Vink-Lainas in the top spot this year to earn the golden microphone. Men's hockey finished second, while wrestling claimed the third-place finish.


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