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By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following a 2013-14 campaign that resulted in just four wins, it was hard to gauge what was in store for the 2014-15 Nittany Lions. However, after notching a program-best 17 wins this season, Penn State already has its eyes set on next year.

 

"I'm so proud of the 2014-15 team for their hard work, their dedication and everything that they accomplished this season," head coach Josh Brandwene said. "So many big wins. So many great moments for this program. 10-5-4 in games decided by a goal or less says everything about this group in terms of what they've become. They're winners, and that is just something that we are going to build on going forward."

 

For the first time as a Division-I program, the Nittany Lions finished with a winning record and third place finish, its highest CHA conference regular season finish ever. Four times as many wins as last season, Penn State was the most improved NCAA team. Furthermore, the Blue and White earned its highest CHA Tournament seed at No. 4 and scored its most power play goals in a season with 23 and shorthanded goals with three.

 

Such success banked on playing in a family-like atmosphere day-in and day-out.

 

"Well I think one of the biggest things at the beginning was creating a new culture and new environment," forward Shannon Yoxheimer said. "We really achieved that and instilled that into everyone's minds. Everyone really, really enjoyed being in the environment that was created. It was very genuine and a very close-knit environment. That's one of the biggest accomplishments outside of our actual hockey performance that we had as a team."

When looking back on the historic season it is difficult to choose one game or play that was the most memorable. According to Yoxheimer, the home sweep against then No. 6 Mercyhust is hard to top, andfor Brandwene, there are so many exciting performances to reflect upon.

"I think you can look back at the season and really reflect on a number of those incremental big stepping stone moments," Brandwene said. "One goal win against St. Cloud in our first weekend as a young team was big. Coming back to beat RIT in overtime in their building was big as an incremental moment. And certainly you can look at the sweep of then No. 6 Mercyhurst here at Pegula as a big moment for this team. Then there is the playoff series. To win a 1-0 game for our first playoff victory says so much about their poise, and their patience, and their willingness to stick to the game plan. And then to close out the series in another close, hard fought game was another big moment for this program."

One of the most important and dynamic aspects of this past season's squad was the quick emergence of the freshmen. Forward Caitlin Reilly closed the season with six goals and ten assists, while Bella Sutton tallied seven scores and eight assists on defense. Sutton stood out so much on the blue line that she was named to the CHA All-Rookie Team.

"I'm so proud of the entire freshman class," Brandwene said. "We asked so much of them this season, and they are just such a hard working group. We asked so much of [Bella Sutton] this year, and for her to perform to the level that she consistently did all year long, such a well-deserved honor to be on the CHA All-Rookie Team."

Upcoming senior playmaker Yoxheimer echoed the words of her head coach.

"I was definitely really impressed [with the freshmen] because it's a really hard transition coming into college hockey," Yoxheimer said. "It's a lot different. There's more systems, more things to get down, and all of us were already very familiar with those, so I was really impressed that they were able to just come in right away. They were contributing. They had the systems down. I think we are all really proud of them, and it says a lot about who they are."

With eight freshman, four sophomores, 13 juniors, and zero seniors on the team this past season, the Nittany Lions are in a perfect position to standout next year.

"Perfect storm coming together for us next season with a tremendous junior class that will be seniors for us next year," Brandwene said. "An unbelievable senior class. Laura Bowman and her entire class will be juniors next year. It's so important to speak about their contributions. Laura making all-conference, Amy [Petersen] had a great season at both ends of the ice - on the power play, on the penalty kill - Kelly Seward great year at both ends of the ice - power play, penalty kill - and Sarah Nielsen, what a job she does in her role, as does her whole line. So you have that. You have our freshman class who will be sophomores next year, and a great recruiting class coming in. Perfect storm. Can't wait to get started."

Bowman, who was named to the All-CHA Second Team, led Penn State with a program-best 31 points (16 goals, 14 assists). She now holds the single season record for points, goals and shorthanded goals (two). Her line mate Amy Petersen netted 11 goals and accumulated 15 assists. Yoxheimer, who wore the "C" on her sweater, mustered 12 goals and eight assists.

One of the most integral parts of this team, however, was between the pipes. The Blue and White had one of the best one-two goalie punches in the country. Junior Celine Whitlinger finished with a 13-11-1 record, 2.17 GAA and a .933 save percentage, while freshman Hannah Ehresmann posted a 4-5-3 record to go along with a 2.35 GAA and a .927 save percentage. Ehresmann's play was so exceptional that she was selected to the CHA All-Rookie team along with Sutton.

"Tremendous seasons for both Celine Whitlinger and Hannah Ehresmann," Brandwene said. "Just fabulous jobs in net. And then the togetherness that all three of our goaltenders have. We refer to them as the sisterhood. That just speaks volumes about the atmosphere, and it says a lot about Celine as a leader that we have such togetherness with that group."

The Nittany Lions earned the CHA's Team Sportsmanship Award, handed out to the team that totals the fewest amount of penalty minutes during conference play. Penn State's disciplined play led to a conference-best 7.2 penalty minutes per contest.

Brandwene is right. With all the experience returning to the program, the Nittany Lions have a perfect storm brewing for next year.

"We're going to be a really, really tough group to play next year," Yoxheimer said. "Right now the goal is to get stronger, focus on competing every day during the offseason, but having in mind that first game of next year when we're training."

By Matt Allibone, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - While the opponent may be familiar, the situation will certainly be different for the Penn State women's hockey team this Friday.

When the Nittany Lions take on Syracuse this Friday in the CHA tournament semifinals, it will be the fifth time this year they will have taken on the Orange. The difference however, will be what is at stake.

This time around, the two clubs won't be playing a two-game series like they did on Oct 31-Nov. 1 and Jan. 30- 31. Now, the winner of Friday's contest will move on to the CHA finals, where they will face off against the winner of Robert Morris and Mercyhurst.

So far this season, the Lions are 1-1-2 against the Orange, losing 3-1 and tying to 2-2 the first series and tying 2-2 and winning 4-2 the second.

"I think the familiarity makes for exciting competition this time of year," Penn State head coach Josh Brandwene said. "We are focused on us, our preparation and continued growth as a team and looking forward to competing."

The Nittany Lions reached the semifinals by beating Lindenwood twice last weekend, by scores of 1-0 and 3-1. In those contests, Penn State got big performances from Shannon Yoxheimer, who scored in each game, and Bella Sutton, who registered two goals and an assist in the second victory.

On the backend, the Lions also got an impressive performance from goaltender Celine Whitlinger, who allowed just one goal on 48 shots during the weekend to finish with a terrific .979 save percentage. Whitlinger is now 13-10-1 on the season with a 2.17 goals-against-average.

While winning both games over the weekend was obviously important for the Lions in terms of advancing them to their first ever CHA tournament semifinals berth, it also gives them a much needed boost of confidence at this time of the season.

Prior to last weekend, the Lions had dropped five contests in a row and hadn't won since Feb. 6. Now with two straight wins under its belts, Penn State can go into Friday knowing it's primed for a peak performance.

"We had an excellent week of preparation and looking forward to getting after it," Brandwene said.

As for Syracuse, the Orange had a bye in the first round of the tournament and haven't played since Feb. 21, a 1-0 loss to RIT. In their last six games, the Orange are 4-1-1 but have a 5-6 all-time record in CHA tournament games.

If Penn State can get past Syracuse, it will have a tough test no matter what opponent it gets next. On the season, the Lions are 2-2 against Meryhurst and 1-3 against Robert Morris. The winner of the tournament will also get a automatic bid in the NCAA tournament.

However the weekend does play out, the Lions have taken a major step forward as a program by advancing to the semifinals. No matter what, Brandwene knows his club is moving in the right direction.

"This team's continued success and growth is a credit to the players' commitment to excellence and to the process everyday," Brandwene said. "We're excited and really looking forward to competing." 

Yoxheimer Leads Penn State to CHA Tournament Semifinal

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10839180.jpegBy Sean Donnelly, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the final two weeks of the regular season on its mind, the Penn State women's hockey team knew it was important to get off to a hot start in the postseason.

And the Nittany Lions knew they needed to play their best game if they wanted to advance to the CHA semifinals.

The Nittany Lions (15-15-4, 9-9-2 CHA) hosted Lindenwood (10-19-2, 7-11-2 CHA) for a best-of-three set at Pegula Ice Arena on Friday and Saturday. Fortunately, the Nittany Lions squad rewarded themselves with some extra rest by not allowing the series to go all three games thanks to a 2-0 sweep.

The victory on Friday night was a seesaw battle, as the Lions shutout Lindenwood 1-0. The Lions came out fast and strong, establishing a strong forecheck and putting pressure on anyone who touched the puck. Lindenwood was never able to get into a rhythm on offense.

The Nittany Lions struck first when junior captain Shannon Yoxheimer scored on the power play with a great pass from Kelly Seward. Yoxheimer, who is the program's career goals, assists and points leader, was able to get in front of the net for the tip-in. It was the only goal Penn State would need to get the win.

"It feels really awesome because it's what we have been working for," said Yoxheimer. "It just shows that we are getting so much better every single year. It's a big step for the program."

The story of the game was goaltender Celine Whitlinger's absolutely stellar play in net, stopping all 23 shots she faced for her third shutout of the season. Following the game, Whitlinger did not shy away from praising the Nittany Lions playing front of her.

"We've been working hard in practice," said Whitlinger. "It's definitely a team effort and we've got each others backs."

"It was a total team effort this evening," said head coach Josh Brandwene. "Great physical effort, tremendous patience and really good decision-making. It was just a really good playoff atmosphere at Pegula Arena.

The celebration of Penn State's first CHA playoff win didn't last long, as focus was already on to Saturday's game.

"We want to come off strong tomorrow like we did today," said Brandwene. "It's important to get better as a team tomorrow. Improve, get better, play focused, play disciplined and the result will take care of itself."

"I think there were a couple moments where we needed to tell ourselves we're okay and calm down," said Yoxheimer. "Going into tomorrow is just battling hard and keeping control of your sticks and moving your feet."

On Saturday, a little luck went a long way for the Nittany Lions. Two minutes into the game, freshman defenseman Bella Sutton cleared the puck from Penn State's own zone. Lindenwood goaltender Nicole Hensley, who boasts a .947 save percentage in all playoff appearances, was caught off guard by the shot. What should have been a routine save squeaked through five-hole to kick off the night.

It was exactly the start the Lions needed, and they never looked back from there.

"I had no idea it went in," said Sutton. "We saw the fans cheering behind the net, and thought 'wait did that go in?' I was very surprised."

Yoxheimer continued her phenomenal play by notching her second goal of the series. Yoxheimer's play on both ends of the ice has paid big dividends for the squad.

"Huge weekend for Shannon Yoxheimer, on both sides of the ice," said Brandwene. "Excellent shot selection, good decisions with the puck and I'm really proud of her."

"I think it was just for the most part just sticking to the game plan the coaches gave us," said Yoxheimer. "Just really putting a lot of faith in it and also stepping on the ice and playing to win."

Lindenwood was unable to find a groove on offense, finally registering their first shot seven minutes into the game. For the second straight game, the Nittany Lions exhibited great special teams play allowing only one goal out of 11 power play opportunities. From both ends of the ice, it was a total team effort.

"I feel like our special teams has come a long way throughout the season, said Sutton. "Just trusting the game plan and trusting each other to do our jobs. Just throwing it on net and hoping they go in."

The Nittany Lions were finally able to capitalize on a power play opportunity when Bella Sutton's slap shot found the back of the net for her second goal of the game. It was all Penn State needed to put away Lindenwood 3-1, advancing to the CHA Tournament semifinal game for the first time in program history.

"Special teams is a big part of the game and credit to the members of the team who play on the penalty kill and power play," said Brandwene. "They have done just a tremendous job of continually improving their performance all year."

"I'm just so proud of the process, sticking to the game plan and keeping things even keel," said Brandwene. "Just a great, great performance today by this hockey team."

The Nittany Lions will look to continue their run for the CHA title when they play No. 2 Syracuse in Erie on Friday. 

By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After earning its highest tournament placement in program history, fourth-seeded Penn State is prepared to face off in the first round of this year's CHA conference tournament against fifth-seeded Lindenwood.

The best-of-three series will be held at Pegula Ice Arena this upcoming weekend (Feb. 27 - March 1) with Friday's game starting at 7 p.m. and Saturday's at 2 p.m. If necessary, a win-or-go-home third game will be played at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

"Tournament time is exciting," said head coach Josh Brandwene. "You work hard all year. It's a great time of year. We're looking forward to Friday evening."

The Lindenwood Lady Lions are no strangers to the Nittany Lions. In fact, in four games played between the teams this season, each team has won two games apiece.

Back on Nov. 21-22, the Nittany Lions first skated against Lindenwood at Pegula Ice Arena. The Blue and White won the first game, 3-0, on Friday night, but subsequently dropped the second game as part of a Saturday matinee, 2-1.

Celine Whitlinger's shutout on Friday, Laura Bowman's goal and assist, Shannon Yoxheimer's two goals, and Caitlin Reilly's two apples highlighted the weekend split.

The two teams would not meet again until Feb. 6-7, when the Nittany Lions traveled to Wentzville, Mo. to take on the Lady Lions. A similar result would ensue as Penn State won on Friday, 3-2, but fell to Lindenwood on Saturday, 4-2.

Bowman's three goals and assist as well as Amy Petersen's trio of assists highlighted the Blue and White's road efforts against Lindenwood.

"This is a group that is resilient, battle tested, and just chomping at the bit to get at it this weekend, and there is nothing better than that," said Brandwene.

The players to watch for Lindenwood are senior forward Jordyn Constance, who is tied for fourth in the CHA in scoring with ten goals and ten assists, and junior forward Shara Jasper, who has six goals and 12 apples this season. Junior goalie Nicole Hensley has posted an eye-opening .923 save percentage and a 2.36 goals against average.

"Our job is to focus on us, our game plan, and our job is to go out and execute our game plan, and the results will take care of themselves," said Brandwene.

Penn State will rely heavily on junior goaltender Celine Whitlinger, who leads the CHA with a .937 save percentage and two shutouts.

Leading the Blue and White in CHA play are Laura Bowman (11 goals, ten assists), Amy Petersen (four goals, ten assists), Shannon Yoxheimer (six goals, five assists), and freshman Caitlin Reilly (five goals, five assists).

Defensively, look for Jordin Pardoski, Bella Sutton, Kelly Seward, and Remi Martin to make immediate on-ice impacts.

"One shift at a time," said Brandwene. "One practice at a time. One period at a time. That's the mindset we're in. We want to get off to a great start, and it's about preparation during the week at practice, it's about energy on Friday, and a great opportunity to play at home."

The winner of the CHA tournament will earn an automatic bid to compete in the NCAA tournament, a feat that Brandwene says speaks volumes to the strength of the CHA conference.

"I think it says a lot about the league, and I think that we're excited to get after it on Friday and looking forward to playing at home," said Brandwene.

By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -The Penn State women's hockey team may have concluded the regular season on Saturday, but the team is ready for playoffs after earning the highest postseason seeding in program history.


Despite falling, 4-1, to conference foe Robert Morris (11-17-5, 8-8-4 CHA) on both Friday and Saturday, Penn State (15-15-4, 9-9-2 CHA) earned a No. 4 seed this year after earning No. 6 seeds each of the past two seasons.

"
This team has worked very hard, and we are going to have a home playoff series, and it's something everybody is looking forward to," said head coach Josh Brandwene.

Saturday's matinee also featured a Senior Day celebration for graduating junior Kendra Rasmussen and student manager Sammy Sarsfield. Both have been integral parts to the development of the young program and will certainly be missed.

"Two wonderful human beings surrounded by people who love them," said Brandwene and the graduates. "Just a really special moment on the ice that's for sure."

With such supportive fans all season long, it came as no surprise when the 821 fans in attendance Saturday afternoon stayed for the senior celebration to give thanks to two individuals who were both dynamic parts of the team.

"From the bottom of my heart, I cannot thank [the fans] enough for their support, and the energy they put behind this hockey team," said Brandwene. "This is a special community, students and folks who live here alike. And to see the support that we have is just really special."

Games aside, Penn State's Dance Marathon, or THON, took center stage in University Park. A short walk across University Drive from Pegula Ice Arena leads to the Bryce Jordan Center, the site where over 15,000 Penn State students effortlessly spent the weekend raising awareness and over $13 million for the fight against pediatric cancer.


"We're here to work hard. We're here to push ourselves and achieve, but when you take a step back and you know what's going on across the street, and the kind of money that's being raised for such an important cause, and so many families that have been so affected by this horrible disease, it just puts it all in perspective for you," said Brandwene.

What made THON 2015 so special for the women's hockey team is that this was the very first year the squad was home to dance in the Pep Rally. On Saturday night, the players certainly provided the 700-plus dancers, standing for 46 hours without sleeping, some much needed energy to keep going.

"It's that broader, bigger picture," said Brandwene. "You grind away day-to-day. You go to class. You come to the rink. You keep working and grinding, and when you get that moment where you can, not only step back and see what's going on, but to also actually be a part of it, it really makes it special."

Additionally, Brandwene expressed some heartfelt words to the dancers.

"First I'd thank [the dancers] and just express my gratitude for what they're doing," said Brandwene. "It's a pretty tall task for what they're doing. They put a lot of not only the physical energy but also the emotional energy to be on their feet that long and just knowing the kind of cause that they're working towards, and spending time and interacting with the families. It's incredibly special and just a powerful statement about what the Penn State community really is."

With a large portion of the Penn State community still recovering from THON weekend, the Nittany Lions are already looking ahead to their first ever home playoff series against fifth-seeded Lindenwood, a team the Blue and White split four games with this season.

"We're looking forward to [Lindenwood]," said Brandwene. "It's that moment of the season where the reset button gets hit for everybody...we're really chomping at the bit to get at it."

Penn State will commence its best-of-three series against the Lady Lions (10-19-2, 7-11-2 CHA) on Friday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. Game two will be played on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 2 p.m. and, if necessary, a decisive third contest on Sunday, March 1 at 2 p.m.

VIDEO: THON 2015 Pep Rally Dance - Women's Hockey

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Check out the Nittany Lions dancing on stage during the THON 2015 Pep Rally on Saturday night.




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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The third campaign for Penn State women's hockey has reached historic levels as the regular season draws to a close. With a program-record 15 wins, and a nine-fold increase in College Hockey America (CHA) wins, the Nittany Lions are flying high with the CHA Playoffs approaching.

While all aspects of Penn State's game have been solid, one major facet of the Nittany Lions' success can be attributed to the sisterhood and extraordinarily tight bond among the team. 

Like any family, each Nittany Lion would do whatever she could to help out her sister. That selflessness extends to Penn State's play on the ice, which frequently includes diving in front of a slap shot.

"I would say our team is very selfless," said junior captain Jordin Pardoski. "There isn't one thing that one girl wouldn't do for another, so blocking shots is just really a part of the family atmosphere and vibe that we have going here ... We're family-oriented. Each of us looks at each other as sister. "

Pardoski and her defense partner freshman Remi Martin have combined for 62 blocks this season, while sophomore Kelly Seward and freshman Bella Sutton have thrown themselves in front of 91 shots. 

But blocking a shot does more than stifle a strong forecheck. A well-timed and perfectly-placed blocked shot can be a major momentum swing for a team.

 "It's a boost for the whole bench. It's a momentum changer," said head coach Josh Brandwene. "It's a badge of honor thing that all players, forwards and 'D' are responsible for. If you have an opportunity and the moment to get in the lane, sacrifice yourself a little bit on behalf of the team." 

Penn State's strong shot blocking game has also been evident in the solid play of the Nittany Lions' netminders, freshman Hannah Ehresmann and junior Celine Whitlinger. The goalies have combined for a 2.40 goals against average, over .50 lower than the previous program record of 2.98, set in 2012-13. Individually, Whitlinger is a two-time CHA Goaltender of the Month and Ehresmann has earned CHA Rookie of the Week honors.

Throwing oneself into the line of fire with a small piece of rubber careening at a high speed could be called crazy for some. But for the Nittany Lions, nothing gives them the thrill more than the selfless act of blocking a shot.

"It's like a mini pump up for us," said Pardoski. "The whole bench gets going when someone has a blocked shot. It's just a change of momentum. It's exciting."

The Penn State Nittany Lions will play in Pegula Ice Arena for the regular season finale this Friday and Saturday against Robert Morris.

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Sophomore forward Laura Bowman netted three goals and added an assist to lead Penn State (15-11-4, 9-5-2 CHA) to a weekend road split versus CHA conference foe Lindenwood (9-17-1, 6-9-1).

The Penn State women's hockey team traveled over 750 miles to faceoff against the Lions in their home of Wentzville, MO. In Friday's contest, the Blue and White triumphed, 3-2, but fell, 4-2, in Saturday's matinee.

"
I'm proud of the comeback effort [Saturday]," said head coach Josh Brandwene. "They stuck with the game plan. They kept believing. It was a heck of a hockey game on both sides."

Laura Bowman and her top line mates Amy Petersen and Micayla Catanzariti are a big reason why Brandwene's team continues to excel, especially down the home stretch of the regular season.

"Everyday is an opportunity to get better regardless of the result from the game before," said Brandwene. "Our mindset has been the same. Looking forward to getting back to work."

Bowman was a part of all three goals in Friday's 3-2 victory.

The scoring opened up 44 seconds into the second period when Catanzariti used apples from Petersen and Bowman to put the Nittany Lions ahead, 1-0. Then Bowman put Penn State ahead by two goals while on the power play with 11:42 left in the second frame after Bella Sutton and Kelly Seward assisted on the score. Bowman tallied her second goal of the period with 2:36 left in the second frame to put the Blue and White up, 3-1. Petersen and Jeanette Bateman recorded the helpers on the eventual game-winning score.

Celine Whitlinger swatted away 29 Lindenwood shots to preserve the team's 15th win of the season, 11th when she's between the pipes.

"Really proud of [Celine Whitlinger]," said Brandwene. "Just continues to battle and give a great effort."

In Saturday afternoon's 4-2 defeat, Bowman managed to score yet again, her 16th goal of the season. Her line mates Petersen and Catanzariti tallied the assists.

"[Bowman] had herself a monster weekend," said Brandwene. "Just had her feet moving. Really good shot selection. Great vision. Really high compete level."

Junior forward Shannon Yoxheimer, who has been with the program since its inception, not only played in her 100th game donning the Blue and White over the weekend, but she also scored in Saturday's contest. Emily Laurenzi and Remi Martin recorded the assists on her goal.

"Everybody does a great job with their responsibilities," said Brandwene. "Amy had a heck of an outlet pass on our early goal in the third period, and we just gave a really good effort."

Penn State will complete its four-game road trip this upcoming weekend in northwest Pennsylvania with a two-game series against conference foe Mercyhurst.

Sitting in second place in the CHA conference standings behind Mercyhurst (20-7-3, 11-4-1 CHA), Penn State continues to pressure the first place Lakers. In fact, the Nittany Lions are an impressive 5-2-1 in their last eight games and have already beaten the Lakers twice this season.

By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - What makes NCAA Division-I sports so attractive are the distinct areas student-athletes travel to and from to play for one team. Junior forwards Hannah Bramm and Hannah Hoenshell embody the diversification seen in collegiate athletics.

While Bramm hails from Tampa, Fla., Hoenshell's roots originate in Plano, Texas. Collectively, the two Hannah's have each ushered in a unique edge to the Penn State women's hockey team.

"
The neat piece for us as a team and family is just the geographical diversity," said head coach Josh Brandwene. "It just makes for fun conversations and fun stories, and they're just a huge part of our team."

Different Places. Similar Beginnings.

You would think that growing up in southern states would make it difficult to find places in the area to play hockey, but that was not the case for Bramm and Hoenshell.

"My brother, who is two years older than me, was watching the Olympics, and he wanted to figure skate, said Bramm. "So then we both started figure skating when I was three. And then after a couple months we decided to play hockey."

"I started skating when I was three," said Hoenshell. "My dad grew up in Nebraska, and he always liked hockey. Basically he started me skating, and my younger brother was playing hockey. He got hockey skates, and I wanted hockey skates. From there I started playing."

Like many women who want to play hockey, Bramm and Hoenshell each played with boys up until their teenage years.

"I played [hockey] with boys up until I was 13," said Hoenshell. "Then I switched to girls. There was one girl's team in Dallas, Texas, and I played for that team until I graduated. We played against boys, but it was just non-checking.

A similar scenario played out for Bramm, as well.


"I played boy's [hockey] until I was a sophomore in high school, so around 15," said Bramm. "Then I went to NAHA, North American Hockey Academy, for my last three years of high school, and that was in Vermont."

Penn State Living

Despite their similar starts from notable vacation hot spots, Bramm and Hoenshell arrived in Happy Valley in different ways.

Hoenshell was recruited and chose to don the Blue and White sweaters from the start. After playing six years for the Alliance Bulldogs hockey club in Dallas, she decided to take her talents to Penn State.

"When I was looking at schools, I wanted a good school with academics and big-time football, which coming from Texas, that's a big deal; the new rink, too," said Hoenshell. "Everything was perfect about [Penn State]."

For Bramm, she played her first two years of college hockey at Minnesota-Duluth. Just last spring she transferred to Penn State, noting that the academics and team were a strong fit for her.

Coming from climates warmer than University Park, both enjoy late summer, fall and spring in Happy Valley, but both have had to adjust to the cold, winter months.

When asked if she misses the warm weather, Bramm joked, "Yes, haha, I wasn't meant for the cold at all."

When asked how she deals with the cold, Hoenshell replied, "Just gotta live through it."

Diversification

With Minnesota, California, Florida, Colorado, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, Michigan, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Ontario all represented on the Penn State women's hockey team, together they are one, big, diverse family.

Brandwene credits Hoenshell and Bramm for bringing the southern flare to the squad.

"Well credit to both of them," said Brandwne. "They're just incredibly hard working. They've spent an entire career loving the game and getting better at it. It's that work ethic that has gotten them to this level and allowing them to flourish at this level."

One area that has certainly created fun conversations among the team is the taste buds that the Hannah's bring to the table.

"There's just some diversity in food choices like key lime pie and maybe a little bit of southern barbeque in there," said Brandwene. "Again, it makes for a fun, family atmosphere."

The Nittany Lions are hungry to finish the season strong, facing CHA foe Lindenwood on the road this upcoming weekend.

By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Representing more than Penn State, the women's hockey team utilized the power of pink towards a 4-2 win over CHA foe Syracuse in the annual Skate for a Cure game on Saturday.

"This is a great day for Penn State and being a part of something bigger than just a hockey program or an athletic department," said head coach Josh Brandwene. "To make this day so special for Pennsylvania Pink Zone, and just the atmosphere in the building to raise money for such an important cause, to me I'm just so proud of just the effort today."

The goal of Saturday's Pennsylvania Pink Zone game is to bring to light the battle that women and men face when diagnosed with breast cancer. To aid in the fight, the Blue and White's game-worn pink sweaters can be bid on via Penn State Nittany Lions Official Online Charity Auctions.

"
It's definitely very humbling for everyone to play for something bigger than ourselves and realize how lucky we are even to be playing," said junior forward Hannah Bramm, who tallied a goal and an assist on the weekend. "I think that that gave us some extra motivation."

Friday night, Penn State (14-10-4, 8-4-2 CHA) tied the Orange (6-12-9, 4-4-5 CHA), 2-2. The Nittany Lions utilized the boost of energy from the 1,042 fans in attendance to win, 4-2, in Saturday's Skate for a Cure game.

The difference in the first game was freshman forward Caitlin Reilly. She made a number of plays with her strong skating, stick handling and hockey IQ.

"
She makes so much happen when she moves her feet and makes good decisions," said Brandwene. "And when you put those two combinations together with Caitlin Reilly, anything is possible."

Possible indeed as Reilly scored the opening goal of the weekend after splitting between two Syracuse defensemen and firing a left-handed shot from the low slot into the back of the net.

"
I got a nice pass from my line mate, Sarah Nielsen," said Reilly. "I knew I was confident in beating the D, so I just used my foot speed. Then I did a little move, got through the second D, and I'd say I got a little lucky there at the end, but good to score."

Other top performers on Friday include Emily Laurenzi, who scored her second goal in as many games and Celine Whitlinger, who stopped 40 pucks to preserve the draw.

"I love the communication we're getting from all of our lines," said Brandwene. "The chemistry, the little decisions, the puck movement...really proud of the effort from all three of our lines today."

The roaring fans within Pegula Ice Arena were too overpowering for Syracuse on Saturday as the Nittany Lions fed off the crowd en route to victory. The Nittany Lions scored a program-best three goals in a span of just 84 seconds.

Hannah Hoenshell, Laura Bowman and Hannah Bramm each scored second period goals to help the Blue and White jump out to a 3-0 lead. With 1:08 remaining in regulation, Laurenzi netted her third goal in as many games to seal the triumph, 4-2.

Hoenshell and Bramm each scored on the power play, an area of focus in practice in the week leading up to the series.

"We've been focusing more on practice this week of just getting it to the top and making sure we have some players in front of the net, make sure it's crowded, and make sure we get some shots through," said Bramm. "It's just we've been working on it a lot and had a good day of it."

The Nittany Lions also managed to hold Syracuse to just one power play goal on ten attempts this past weekend, continuing their success down a player.

"We have great habits," said Brandwene about the penalty kill. "Great communication. Great intensity and just a will to succeed out there on the penalty kill. Really proud of all of them."

The Nittany Lions begin a four-game road stretch next weekend when they travel to Lindenwood for a two-game CHA series on Friday and Saturday.