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By Patrick Anglin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When he was hired to take over as head coach this past summer, Jeff Kampersal knew he needed a strong Director of Operations for his team. The Director of Operations is a prestigious position that operates behind-the-scene for all the Penn State athletic teams. Kampersal didn't have to look far to find his ideal candidate. What better individual for the job than Chris Demczuk, a freshly-graduated Penn State alumnus with four years of intern experience for the hockey team?

 

"They spoke positively about [Demczuk's] work from previous years," Kampersal said. "I thought it was important to have a connection to the past. He already knows all the ins and outs."

 

Demczuk had spent the last four years as a Penn State student pursuing a bachelor's degree in journalism. During his studies, he served as a student intern for the team. After graduating in the spring of 2017, Demczuk accepted a full-time offer as the Director of Operations for the women's hockey team. His journey has been an exciting one so far, centered around a deep love for the sport of hockey.

 

"I actually decided to come to Penn State because they were getting a Division I hockey team," Demczuk said. "I was a big college hockey fan and I was looking into sports journalism, so I figured what better place than Penn State, because they have so many great athletic teams and you can meet so many more people than you could at a smaller school."

 

Demczuk enrolled at Penn State in the fall of 2013, and immediately took the necessary steps to get involved in his favorite sport in any way possible. The rest is history for him.

 

"I started right away, my first year, as an intern." Demczuk said." The next year they needed someone to travel with the team, so I started to travel my sophomore year through my senior year."

 

Traveling on the road is both a pleasure and big responsibility. Demczuk enjoys the opportunity to see new places but is also kept very busy on the road trips.

 

"On the road, my biggest responsibility is video," Demczuk said. "Cutting clips during games and ensuring that our hockey technology is up and running so that coaches and players can analyze film. Also, making certain that logistically our travel runs smoothly."

 

The move from student intern to Director of Operations is a big one, but Demczuk's skills and experience made it a seamless transition for both him and the team.

 

"My senior year, I took over more of the tasks around here, such as the meal planning," Demczuk said. "Now I'm full-time and I get a little bit of everything. The biggest things are logistical tasks like planning trips, setting up meals, taking care of video needs for opponents and for us. Helping the coaches prepare on a weekly basis."

 

It's a lot of responsibility for one individual, but Demczuk manages to stay on top of things due to his efforts to remain organized and his high work ethic. The director of operations also credits his time at Penn State as a major component to his success.

 

"A lot of it is knowing people around campus, and knowing the campus," Demczuk said. "I understand what the girls do on a daily basis. I understand their work-load outside the rink. I understand having to walk across campus to class since I had class there too."

 

Not only was attending Penn State beneficial to him, but Demczuk also mentions that his time in the journalism major has set him up for monumental career success.

 

"A large portion of my job is communication, with other teams, with the [team] staff, our players and coaching staff," Demczuk said. "My journalism degree has definitely helped with that."

 

As Kampersal has said, Demczuk has both a wide base of knowledge on how the team should operate and the insight to take care of business when needed. The entire coaching staff is impressed with his ability to go above and beyond what is asked.

 

"There are little things that I don't even know about that he does that help us run smoothly," Kampersal said. "He takes care of things almost instantaneously. The meals on the road, the video breakdowns, the playbooks that he makes for us. He does all that stuff without direction. He just takes initiative and gets things done. He's been awesome."

 

Kampersal summarized his thoughts on Demczuk with a laugh and a smile.

 

"Hopefully Chris will be around here for a long time."

 

Demczuk also hopes to be around for a while, and has greatly enjoyed his time working with Penn State athletics so far. His mantra is a simple one:

 

"I just like watching hockey and being a part of it."

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By Patrick Anglin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Every university wants to build an elite coaching staff for its varsity sports. The administration wants to bring in the best, and choose individuals who will make their teams better. One would hope that each coach on staff has a unique skill-set and perspective, that when combined with other coaches, will create a force to be reckoned with. An ideal coach will push their student-athletes to be the best they can be, and then some. That's why hiring Celeste Brown as an assistant coach was a no-brainer for Penn State and women's hockey head coach Jeff Kampersal.

 

"I remember coaching against her when she played at RIT," Kampersal said. "She's super competitive, and we wanted somebody who had moxie and grit. Somebody who would instill toughness into the players. She's a tireless worker, she was that as a player and is now that as a coach."

 

Kampersal was impressed with what Brown was able to do on the ice, and for good reason. During her playing career at RIT, Brown tallied a 15-2 postseason record including a Division III National Championship in 2012 and consecutive CHA titles in 2014-15. She was a two-time captain with 42 goals and 28 assists, with nine of her goals coming as game-winners. After graduating, Brown spent a year playing professional hockey in the NWHL with the New York Riveters. Then, the next year, she played professionally for the Connecticut Whale while serving as an assistant coach at Connecticut College. Brown emphasizes that her success as a player wasn't due to talent, but to her mindset and attitude.

 

"I wasn't an amazing player, but I figured out how to get where I needed to be," Brown said. "I outworked people, and that's my main thing. Yeah you can be super talented, but if you don't have the work ethic, grit, determination, and the willingness to sacrifice as a player, I don't think you'll get to level you can be."

 

Brown enjoyed her time playing professionally and coaching at Connecticut, but was ready to take the next step in her career by joining a top program. It just so happened that a school at the top of her list had an opening.

 

"What drew me to Penn State was its unbelievable potential," Brown said. "I played in the CHA, as Penn State joined the same time that RIT did. I remember being here as a player, and even back then, we all knew this place was special. I knew this place could provide excellent support for not just athletes but also students. Seeing that drew me in from the get-go."

 

It wasn't just the school that caught Brown's attention, but the team itself. Specifically, it was the top-tier coaches that had already joined the staff.

 

"PSU hired two top-notch coaches in Kampersal and Coomey," Brown said. "Coming here was like finding a golden ticket. Working with those two has been extraordinary, has been wonderful. I'm very fortunate, and what I like about them most is that they value my opinion just as much as if I was a long-tenured coach."

 

Since joining Penn State in July, Brown has certainly established herself as a key component of the team's success. She's received high praise from everybody in Pegula Arena, from the other coaches to the players.

 

"Our players respect her," Kampersal said. "She certainly has the clout in the CHA for our players to respect her, but they also respect her for her work ethic that she brings every single day. The energy, the passion. Her being young is a positive because she can relate to them well. They can relate on a lot of things and the players can go to her and talk about personal things."

 

This year is Brown's second year of coaching overall, but she doesn't think being young puts her at a disadvantage. In fact, she's certain that it gives her a unique perspective and helps her communicate with her players.

 

"The landscape of women's hockey has changed, and me being a recent graduate and recently playing pro for two years gives me a different outlook than other coaches might have," Brown said. "I have walked through these girl's shoes, so I feel like I can relate with them."

 

The players agree that Brown is extremely approachable, and that her youth and energy, and the balance between being a coach and being friendly are all what makes her coaching so effective.

 

"During practice she has a fun side," freshman Sophie Slattery said. "She'll participate in our shootouts and give tips. When it gets to game time she's very serious about what she's doing."

 

It's not just her attitude that makes her a great assistant coach for the team, but also her mental and physical gifts when it comes to the game of hockey.

 

"She's a great coach and we love working with her," sophomore Brooke Madsen said. "She was a pretty good player a couple of years ago, so she has a lot of knowledge on the talent part of the game. Stick-handling, skills, playing off the zone, being creative, creating chemistry with our lines, she knows it all and does it all."

 

The players also noted that they admired her competitive nature, and how she takes the time to focus on everyone equally.

 

"You can definitely tell how much she genuinely wants to be here and how much she wants to develop each individual player," Slattery said. "She has a ton of tips for everyone, on how to develop our individual game."

 

Brown has already seen a lot in her young hockey career, before as a player and now as a coach, and she's excited for the future. She lives by a mantra that she hopes she can instill upon each and every player she coaches.

 

"You just have to do it," Brown said. "Follow your dreams. Which sounds cliche, but you just can't take no for an answer. If the road changes, you just have to change with it. You'll never know where you are going to end up until you are there, so it's all about the journey. Once you're on top of the mountain, you can look back and see, and then you'll understand it."

 

The women of the ice hockey team will continue on their journey, and can feel confident that they have a great guide in Brown. Her competitive nature and love for the game, along with a broad number of life experiences already piled up, have her ready to take on any challenge that comes.

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By Patrick Anglin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - They say that success is built from the top down. Penn State women's hockey head coach Jeff Kampersal would agree with that statement, and that's why he has hand-picked a staff of assistant coaches that he is confident will put his team in the right position to succeed. One of these assistant coaches is none other than Allison Coomey, a longtime lover of the game, a former player who has transitioned from being a student of hockey, to a mindful mentor for a new generation

 

"There's a lot to like about Allison," Kampersal said when asked about his assistant. "She's just a really good person with a great hockey knowledge and great hockey background. She's been in good places and learned a lot, which she brings to the table now."

 

Kampersal couldn't be happier with his assistant coach, and believes she's already exceeded his expectations.

 

"She's someone who is incredibly genuine, kind and smart," Kampersal said. "She's a really good person, I've known her for a long time. I coached against her when she was a player at Niagara, and occasionally against her at BU. She's mature, responsible, and somebody you can count on. She can relate to the players and speak to them honestly with integrity."

 

Coomey may be new to Penn State, but she's been a part of the sport of hockey for quite a long time. She hails from Baldwinsville, New York, a small town approximately twenty minutes north of Syracuse. In 1998, she traveled westward to attend Niagara University, where she was a dual-sport athlete. On the ice, she served as an alternate captain her senior year and helped push her team to a NCAA Frozen Four appearance. Off the ice, she was chosen as the lacrosse team's rookie of the year in 1999.

 

Coomey is a firm believer that her athletic experiences have helped mold her into the coach that she is today.

 

"It helps me understand the players and gives me the empathy to work with them," Coomey said. "I let them each know how important their role is and how they make the team better."

 

The biggest endorsers for Coomey would have to be her players, the individuals that she dedicates her time and energy to. They appreciate everything she does for the team, and all point out that her knowledge of hockey has helped them grow as players, and continues to do so every day.

 

"We love coach Coomey," said Katie McMillan, a sophomore defenseman. "After every shift if we made a mistake or there is something we can tweak, she'll point it out to us and give us some good feedback."

 

"She's an awesome positive reinforcement," said Abby Welch, a sophomore forward. "She always pushes us, she's been an awesome coach."

 

Coomey loves to coach her players up on the ice, specifically on the defensive side, but she also wants them to become the best they can be in other aspects of life as well. She understands that there is a future for these young women beyond college hockey.

 

"There is a professional league, but we aren't getting paid what the guys are. So [education] is huge, we put it above everything else here," she said.  "We want our kids to get degrees, and to be better people and be better student-athletes."

 

Commey spent the last nine years of her career as an assistant coach with Boston University before joining Kampersal in Happy Valley this year. She is just finally starting to get comfortable at Penn State, an area that she has never experienced anything like before.

 

"So far it's great," Coomey said. "Obviously it's a bit different coming from Boston, leaving a city and coming to place where everything that revolves around the university. It makes for a really cool environment, not just the students but for all of us who work here. It's been a great transition."

 

Coomey has lived a storied life so far, making sure to enjoy it every step of the way. When she's not working with the team, she tries to stay fit and read. When it comes to life, she has a very a simple philosophy.

 

"The biggest thing is love what you do. I went to school for education, and now I get to teach what I love. We work to make them the best hockey player they can be, but off the ice we want to prepare them for the future. Hockey teaches you so many things, like how to work with others, and I think that's the true goal for this program."

 

Coomey hopes to push herself to grow as a coach, and to push her players to be the best they can be, on and off the ice. When asked about what the future holds in store for her and if there is a possibility of head coaching in her future, she was all smiles.

 

"Every year I go back and forth," Coomey said. "All I can say is that I like what I'm doing now."

 

Here's hoping that Coomey stays with Penn State for a long time, and continues to instil her values upon the young women and push the program forward.

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By Patrick Anglin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As it has been said all year, the Penn State women's hockey team isn't afraid of any opponent. They know they are a young program, but are proud of the direction that they are headed. Spearheaded by a formidable defense, they believe they are close to taking the next step. Senior Christi Vetter believes it's a result of the team's burning desire to outwork everyone else.

 

"I think one word that really describes our girls is grit," Vetter said. "We're grinding it out on the walls, in the corner, and we're busting our butts. We need to keep striving to be the grittiest team out there. We're going to push each other like we always have, and we're almost there."

 

The mantra for the team the entire season has been to hustle for a full three periods no matter the score, and that was apparent in their intense efforts in both the 3-1 loss and 1-1 tie against Mercyhurst this weekend. Sophomore goalie Daniella Paniccia credits the team's mentality and identity for their success.

 

"We're a blue-collar team, we're good at facing adversity," Paniccia said. "We've built an identity as a hard-working program. Like coach always says, we have to play hungry hockey."

 

Head coach Jeff Kampersal is a firm believer in his players, and notes their continuous improvements, He agrees that the girls are working hard, and that it is showing on both ends of the ice, especially on the defensive side.

 

"We have flashes of really good defense," Kampersal said. "Our goal is to let up only 7 shots or less a period, and we're right around that. We're pinning hard and being physical."

 

The defense has been adjusting on the fly and playing hard against solid offensive teams, something that can be seen in their recent performances. As Kampersal has previously lauded, the team's shot-blocking is one of its best assets. The team recorded 40 blocks over the weekend against Mercyhurst. Vetter credits the goalies for helping the team get in position to block shots.

 

"We talk to the goalies and they give us pretty good advice," Vetter said. "They now how to block shots."

 

Both goalies for the team played this weekend, senior Hannah Ehresmann on Friday and Paniccia on Saturday. Each posted strong performances in their starts, Ehresmann recording 25 saves while Pannicia totaled 34.

 

"The sport should almost be called goaltending," Kampersal said. "It's such an important position."

 

Both girls have been playing excellent as of late, and Pannicia's 34 saves was a new season high for her.

 

"Some games the shots just add up," Pannicia said. "It felt like a fast-paced game, those are my favorite games with lots of shots. It's easier to stay focused."

 

Coming up, the team has a long road stretch ahead, not returning to Pegula to play until next calendar year. To be successful on that stretch, the girls will need to continue to learn from their experiences and play a tough, physical style of hockey led by their tenacious defense.

By Patrick Anglin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It's well known that the Penn State Women's Hockey team works hard on the ice, but they also make an extra effort in their community to make a difference. From community service events to trick-or-treating with local kids to postgame skates with their fans, these women go the extra mile to bridge the gap between players and fans.

 

After the second game of each home series so far this season, the athletes have hang around the rink for a little extra fun. They've just finished an entire weekend of hard work, and yet they are still smiling and eager for one last event. Postgame skates, a popular event where community members can rent complementary skates and join the players on the ice, are just as fun for the players as they are for the fans. Senior forward Aly Hardy boasted a wide smile when asked about the event.

 

"For us, it's so much fun," Hardy said. "Seeing little kids, college kids, parents, and grandparents all come out, and whether if they know how to skate or not, it's so fun to skate around and see everyone having a great time."

 

The team believes that the skates provide not just an opportunity to wind down after an eventful weekend, but also interact to with their biggest supporters. They use the opportunity to talk with the fans and make genuine connections with them.

 

"I think it's a big deal for us and them," Hardy said. "It gives [the fans] an opportunity to interact with us and get to know us as people."

 

Hardy acknowledges the fact that the team loves their fans, and that they help keep them motivated at times. As a fresh program barely six years old, the team is still growing a fan base. For the players, they are taking the time to enjoy the moment and appreciate every person who comes to watch them play.

 

"We recognize the people that come out to most of our games, it's really cool to see people who are supporting us," Hardy said. "We are a new program... so it's really cool to see that more and more people are coming and realizing that we're up and coming."

 

The team's community efforts don't stop there though, as Hardy mentioned that she makes a serious effort to get the team involved in many other ways.

 

"I'm the vice president for the Student-Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB), so that gives us a lot of opportunities to get involved in the community," Hardy said. "I oversee the special events committee, which oversees community service events, so it's really important personally to try and out go out in the community and get those people involved in hockey and athletics in general."

 

Hardy uses her position to organize community service events for all Penn State athletes to get out and give back to those who have given them so much.

 

For head coach Jeff Kampersal, life at Penn State is about so much more than just hockey; it's about building a strong foundation and connection between the team and the people of the community. Kampersal was born and raised in New Jersey, but has recently moved to the State College area after taking the head coaching job this year.

 

"Growing up I had never been a part of a community," Kampersal said. "But here it actually feels like a family."

 

Since taking the job, Kampersal has gotten much closer with his players, staff, and friendly neighbors. To him, the things that his players do with the community are both inspiring and a source of great pride for Penn State athletics. An example of the love that his players have for the community came just recently on Halloween night.

 

"My son and daughter were trick or treating... and three-quarters of the team had shown up by the end of it," Kampersal said. "Some of them in bunny costumes, some of them dwarves. They went all out and they walked with helped my kids and the other kids in the area."

 

Kampersal knows just how important it is for the team to get out in the community and try to make a positive impact. He's not only proud of his team, but also proud of the support that the fans show in return.

 

"By the tunnel during games, we have a bunch of kids hi-fiving our players," Kampersal said. "It's awesome to see... we're starting to see new kids and that's even better."

 

As the team has said all year, they are determined to establish a strong winning culture at Penn State. However, they also want to utilize that same mindset off the ice. They know they have the means and opportunity to build a strong community around them, and they simply want to do what they can to give back to the fans. Whether it be through trick-or-treating in bunny suits or holding hands as they teach kids to skate, these student-athletes are always willing to help those who love them the most. 

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By Patrick Anglin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Senior forward Christi Vetter spoke about her teammates with great pride following a question about their impressive performances over the past two weeks.

 

"We don't give up," Vetter said. "That's one of those things that I can trust every single one of the girls on this team that they are not going to give up. Even when that final buzzer is done we are going to work all the way through that period. We are going to keep pushing that team and make them earn a win over us."

 

Vetter's words rang true and her statement was made apparent after taking ninth-ranked Robert Morris to overtime in back-to-back games. The team also fought hard into extra time in their last two games the weekend previous, against Merrimack.

 

During the first game of the series against Robert Morris, the Nittany Lions showed just how much fight they have in them, and why they choose to never give up.

 

Down 2-0 heading into the second period of the game, Penn State refused to give up, and would not be deterred in the efforts. The entire team showed their passion and fought hard to even the score, and even took the lead at one point during the third period before ending in a 3-3 tie. Junior defender Kelsey Crow explained how the team's mentality aided them in the comeback performance, and what message she wants her teammates to receive.

 

"We're mentally tough," Crow said. "Who cares if your down 2-0? Fight!"

 

Head coach Jeff Kampersal was proud of his team for not quitting and fighting back until the very end of the game.

 

"To be down two and battle back, it's certainly admirable," Kampersal said. "They are determined, they have grit. I love them for that."

 

Going into the second game, Crow made it clear that the team wanted to outperform themselves from the night previous.

 

"Our first couple series, we had a slow second game," Crow said. "But I think we recently we've shaken that."

 

The team came out ready to fight in the second game, and it was anything but slow as Vetter and sophomore forward Brooke Madsen each scored in the second period. After a late goal by RMU in the third, the teams battled it out in overtime before tying again, this time with a score of 2-2.

 

"We worked hard... I thought we were great," Kampersal said. "We competed. It's just down to working harder and doing better."

 

Kampersal credited his team's tenacious defense as a key to tying against a talented offensive team like Robert Morris.

 

"Our kids really defend hard. We don't give up many shots," Kampersal said. "[Vetter] is an insane shot-blocker. She knows what the shooting angles are and when to go down, so I give her a lot of credit for that."

 

Vetter ended the weekend with seven of the team's 49 blocks.

 

Moving forward, the team will continue to fight side by side for one another, and hopes to turn their close games into wins.

 

"I think what our coaches have taught us is that they have confidence in us, and certainly we have confidence in ourselves because we're fighters," Crow said. "We don't care what the score is, we're going to be keep going until the last minute."

 

Kampersal agreed with the sentiment that he and his staff has absolute confidence in their players.

 

"We have great expectations to win every game," Kampersal said. "They should too, when they play they are a very good hockey team."

 

Penn State will have the chance to showcase the fight in them in the upcoming home series against Mercyhurst next weekend.

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By Patrick Anglin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After 60 minutes of intense play, the two teams gather at their respective bench. The coach huddles the team and discusses strategy. The players catch their breath, get some water, and stretch. All of this is in preparation for one final battle, the ultimate closing scene of the evening. The next five minutes will be played with all heart and courage. What is being described of course, is sudden death overtime in college hockey.

 

Overtime in hockey is an exciting and intense event to say the least. Players have worked hard and given all they had, only to end regulation with the score even. They now have one final sliver of time to try and score a single goal and earn a hard-fought win. The Nittany Lions like to thrive in these situations, and practice for it accordingly. Penn State women's hockey head coach Jeff Kampersal chooses to downplay the significance of the overtime period, with the idea that cool heads will prevail.

 

"We try to set our practices up like five minute games, so we're competing for five minutes and just trying to win that five minutes," Kampersal said. "We try to break down periods into four, five minute games, so that overtime, a 13th period, is just another game."

 

Kampersal's strategy is a great way to prepare both physically and emotionally for a grueling overtime period. Coaching wise, he tells his team to stick with what they know and play smart.

 

"We try not to get too excited, and stay focused on what's working," Kampersal said. "[There are] little tips I'll try to give them, but it's a non-panic situation for us."

 

It's not easy mustering the energy and strength to perform at the top of your game after playing a full three periods, but the Nittany Lions pride themselves on their training and preparation. Freshman forwards Katie Ranking and Natalie Heising both spoke on how the team gears up for extra time.

 

"It's a mentality thing, coming into overtime everyone knows that they have to step up their play so we can get the win," Rankin said. "We train so that if we are put in that position, we can come out even harder than we did in the first, second, and third periods."

 

"We practice for overtime with our conditioning," Heising added. "We have the legs, energy, and intensity for it, so we can go and get the win."

 

The duo stressed that the team is pushed by its competitive edge, something they believe helps them in all facets of their game. As natural competitors, the team as a whole hate to lose, and ending in a tie could be considered just as tough on them.

 

When asked their thoughts on ties (the team has tied once this season), both Heising and Rankin simultaneously gave the same reply: they don't like them.

 

"With a tie it's even, but every game we're looking to win. That's our goal," Rankin said. "If we all just have a competitive mentality; we can get it done."

 

"It's frustrating to end in a tie," Heising said. "Because it makes you think that you could have given a little more.

 

The team likes to treat losses and ties in the same manner when they reflect back and prepare to move forward

 

"It's all about channeling that anger in a positive way and coming out even harder," Rankin said. "[It's about] having a positive mindset and mentality... let's flush any negativity down the toilet and focus on the task at hand."

 

Rankin put her words to action in the matchup against Merrimack last weekend. In the first game of the series, Penn State was defeated in the overtime period. However, the next day the team was able to get the best of their opponent, thanks to a clutch game-winning overtime goal from Rankin herself.

 

"[It was] such a crazy feeling. Anyone that has asked me about it so far, I've described it as an incredible rush, a feeling like no other," Rankin said. "I was just happy to be able to contribute to the win. It's a feeling I will never forget."

 

Hockey is an intense, fast-paced game that lives off emotion and momentum. The Nittany Lions hope to carry their momentum from last weekend as they move forwards into the season. Next time that an overtime period rolls around, the team can take comfort in the fact that they are prepared, and that winning won't be too much of a challenge.

 

After all, they've done it before, and they are confident they can do it again.

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By Patrick Anglin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "There's a lot of sleeping."

 

Those were the exact words of junior defenseman Kelsey Crow when asked about what happens on road weekends. The same exact statement was also uttered by head coach Jeff Kampersal and sophomore goalie Daniel Paniccia. This isn't surprising, as traveling across the country and playing a physical sport like the game of hockey can be extremely draining. However, there is more to the four-day expedition that is a road-weekend than just sleeping.

 

The team's journey begins early on Thursday morning for a Friday-Saturday series, when they meet at the team's home Pegula Ice Arena, and load all of their belonging and equipment onto a team bus. The ride can be a breeze or drag on for hours, but it serves as the perfect time for players to bond with one another. The girls like to play all different types of games and activities to pass the time.

 

"'Heads Up', the phone game," Paniccia said. "We love to play that."

 

"Heads Up" is an app game in which one player holds the phone on their forehead so that they cannot see the word or phrase, and other players yell out hints to help them guess. The game is a favorite on the team, but they also find other ways to pass the time while showcasing their many talents.

 

"Sometimes we also do karaoke and stuff. We get to hear some beautiful voices," Paniccia said with a smile and laugh.

 

"There's different sections of the bus, I'm usually in the back," Crow added. "We're the annoying, loud bunch."

 

Once arriving at their destination, the team checks into the hotel where they will be staying for the weekend. By the time they finally settled in, everyone is usually stiff and worn down from the bus ride, so they usually spend that night relaxing.

 

"We try to have them live as normal as possible," Kampersal said. "Get there, wind down, sometimes watch a movie. On most trips, I try to work out."

 

Kampersal isn't new to road weekends in hockey, but it is his first season with Penn State, after spending 21 seasons coaching the Princeton Tigers prior to joining the Nittany Lions. He is still adjusting to traveling and bonding with a completely new team.

 

"Going out in blue and white is still a very surreal thing for me," Kampersal said. "But once the puck drops, there is a game to be won. I look forward to making memories with these girls."

 

One of the perks of competing against teams across the country is being able to see the various host cities. So far this season the team has been to Minnesota, and is headed to Massachusetts this weekend. During the weekend, the players have some free time upon arrival and between games to explore the host cities.

 

"It's nice seeing different places," Paniccia said. "Boston for example, is really cool. It's a really nice city, one of my favorites. It's so fun to travel."

 

Other players find joy in road trips in other things, such as the opponents that await them.

 

"I really like it because I get so bored playing the same people," Crow said. "Different teams have different styles. We get to play a lot of good out of conference teams on our trips."

 

The team enjoys the perks of being student-athletes and having the opportunity to travel and represent the Blue and White, but they also point out that it comes with some drawbacks.

 

"It is so hard when we leave Thursday mornings, that's two days of classes we miss," Crow said, a junior psychology student. "I'm starting my 400 level classes and it is really important to get ahead, go see TA's and go to office hours."

 

As most Penn State students come to learn, as involvement and responsibilities grow, finding time to complete schoolwork can be quite difficult. However, the team prides itself on its ability to excel both on and off the ice working hard to master personal organizational skills that will benefit them now and moving forwards into the future.

 

"You definitely have to manage your time well when a road trip is coming up" Paniccia said. "You have to stay on top of your work."

 

Of course, with academic advisors and a staff to help them, road weekends aren't a challenge for these hard-working women.

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By Patrick Anglin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The sound of pads crashing into the glass. The sight of skates in the air as players fly across the ice. This was the scene for most of the weekend at Pegula Ice Arena. Penn State faced a great opposition this weekend, with the reigning national champions No. 2 Clarkson coming to town. The Nittany Lions were not fazed however, able to stand strong and match their opponent's physicality.

 

Head Coach Jeff Kampersal acknowledged the fact that Clarkson was a top-tier program, but credited his players for stepping up to the challenge.

 

"They're a big physical team, really good on the wall and with their 50/50 battles," Kampersal said. "I thought we were ready for them."

 

Both teams played extremely tough throughout the weekend series, showcasing some of the strengths for each respective program. Over the course of the weekend, Penn State got off 31 shot attempts and goalie Daniela Paniccia recorded 47 saves.

 

Clarkson was victorious on both Friday night and Saturday night, with a score of 2-0 in both games. However, there were still many bright spots for the Lions to recognize as they move forward, and many signs of improvement to build upon for future growth.

 

"Everything we practiced, we followed through on," Kampersal said. "I'm proud of our players, I thought they did a great job. Everybody played tough."

 

Kampersal has made it clear what kind of effort and attitude he wants from all of his players. The team is living by the mantra that it's better to be feared.

 

"We want to be really hard to play against, we want to be physical." Kampersal said. "I want teams to know that when they play Penn State, they're going to have to grind to beat us"

 

Kampersal's first season at Penn State is all about competing and creating a culture for the team moving forwards. This includes providing some of the younger players on the team, whom he believes are ready, with extended playing time.

 

"Our freshman... are special players," Kampersal said. "The players we have in the lineup are really coachable, they work hard. When we had Madsen, Heising, Rankin and together on the ice in the last five minutes, we had some offense open up for us." He added that the lines may change a bit in the future, but he likes what he sees from every player that gets an opportunity to play.

 

While the young players show great potential for this season and the future of the program, Kampersal reminded the media that their success wouldn't be possible without strong play and leadership from the older players.

 

"Bella, Crow, and Hardy are great captains and leaders". Kampersal said. He credits the strong leadership from the upperclassmen and the comradery among the players one as of the team's greatest strengths.

 

Senior captain Bella Sutton takes great pride in the effort given by the younger players. She and her fellow upperclassmen are leading by example, and trying to pass on some positive qualities and a strong mindset.

 

"The newbies as a whole are seeing a lot of playing time... we believe in them," Sutton said. "We want them and we need them to be our best players at some times. We want them to step up to the challenge."

 

Both the young and old Nittany Lions will look to step up to that challenge as the season goes on.

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By Patrick Anglin, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Two is better than one, or at least that's how the timeless adage goes. That simple phrase applies to many things in life, including the current goalie situation for the women's hockey team. Why have one talented goalie, when you can have two, both ready to dominate at a minute's notice. That's the current situation for Penn State with goalies Hannah Ehressman and Daniela Paniccia.

 

Senior Hannah Ehressman has spent her last three years at Penn State perfecting her craft, but success in hockey is nothing new to her. Before stepping foot on a college campus, she was already a two-time state champion in hockey at Minnetonka High School in her hometown of Minnetonka, Minnesota. Outside of school, she played three years for the Minnesota Junior Whitecaps and spent two years as a player in the Minnesota Girls' elite league.

 

As soon as she arrived and began her career at Penn State, the accolades began to pile up, including a CHA Rookie of the Week Award and multiple CHA Goalie of the Week Awards. Her achievements don't stop on the ice, as she is proven to be very well-rounded with her success in the classroom. The accounting major has been a member of the CHA All-Academic team her first three years at school, and a member of the Big Ten All-Academic team the past two years, including a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar award.

 

Ehressman's recipe for success in all mediums of life is simple.

 

"It takes a lot of hard work... and being the best you're asked to," she said.

 

For sophomore Daniela Paniccia, Penn State hockey runs in the family; her older sister Nicole was a goalie for the school from 2012-2014. Before she came to Penn State, Paniccia played three seasons for the Oakville Junior Hornets. She is ranked second all-time in the Providence Women's Hockey League with a whopping 14 shutouts.

 

Her career at Penn State has been just as spectacular, earning various accolades through her freshman year. She has earned CHA Rookie of the Week honors, CHA Goalie of the week honors multiple times, and CHA Goalie of the Month for her performance last October. Academically, the liberal arts major is a great success, earning CHA All-Academic honors last year.

 

Paniccia acknowledges her wide range of accomplishments, but consistently remains humble.

 

"It's always nice to have the accolades, but it's a team effort." Paniccia said. "Those things can't be done without a strong team behind it."

 

Head coach Jeff Kampersal is the one of the biggest fans of the 1-2 punch that the Nittany Lions pack at goalie. He is never concerned about any drop off in performance when Paniccia steps on the ice for Ehressman.

 

"When she's in, she doesn't miss a beat... She's played great for four periods now, and she's only getting better." Kampersal said about his sophomore goalie. When asked about what it's like to see the two players push each other he added, "It's great to see some good, healthy competition on our team."

 

Both goalies have spent time competing on the ice this season. 

 

Ehressman has played great hockey in the first two weeks of the season. In the first two games against Minnesota Duluth, she earned 60 total saves, including a 38 save performance in the second game. She earned CHA Goalie of the Week honors for her performance. In the third game of the season, played against Union, Ehressman recorded 11 saves, before Paniccia finished out the weekend.

 

Whenever Paniccia is needed, she's always ready to step up for her teammates. She came into game three at the start of the third period after getting zero shots in warmups beforehand. Of course, it didn't matter, as she didn't miss a beat. She kept Union off the board and recorded four saves. She then started the entirety of game four and picked up right where she left off the game before, recording 20 saves, including in the overtime period. She earned the CHA Goalie of the Week award for her efforts.

 

Having two hard-working, top-tier goalies is an enviable position to be in. No matter who's in goal for the Nittany Lions come game day, there will be widespread confidence that they have the defensive advantage.

@GOPSUSPORTS

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