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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.




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

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.

By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Head coach Josh Brandwene often refers to his team as "road warriors." This moniker was proven right this weekend as Penn State (13-10-3, 7-4-1 CHA) split with New Hampshire (7-17-1, 4-9-0 Hockey East) in Durham, N.H. After dropping Friday's contest, 2-0, the Nittany Lions rebounded on Saturday to top the Wildcats, 3-1.

"Our process was really good all weekend long," said Brandwene. "I loved the effort on Friday. We generated a ton of scoring chances, and we stuck to the game plan on Saturday. We kept our feet moving, and in well-deserved fashion got rewarded for it."

Offensive balance was on full display, especially on Saturday, as the line of Sarah Nielsen, Hannah Bramm and Caitlin Reilly each tallied two points to lead the Nittany Lions.

"We've been getting great effort at both ends of the ice from all of our forward lines, and it was great to see Hannah, Caitlin and Sarah get rewarded for their efforts this weekend," said Brandwene. "I'm really proud of them."

After Friday night's loss, Penn State returned to the rink hungry on Saturday, scoring three goals en route to victory.

"I'm really pleased with how all three of our goals turned out," said Brandwene.

Nielsen scored at the 8:44 mark in the first period to push the Blue and White out to an early one-goal lead. Reilly and Bramm each assisted on the score.

"On the first goal, Caitlin Reilly moving her feet and just putting on all sorts of pressure with her foot speed and great finish from Sarah Nielsen," said Brandwene.

After Hannah Armstrong scored for New Hampshire to tie the game at one 10:48 into the second frame, Emily Laurenzi netted her first goal of the season on an apple from Shannon Yoxheimer with 2:44 left in the second to give Penn State the lead, 2-1.

"I loved seeing Em Laurenzi shoot the puck on the second goal," said Brandwene.

Then, with three minutes into the final period, Reilly and Nielsen's passing set up Bramm's score, giving the Nittany Lions a two-goal advantage.

"Just a gritty effort in front by Hannah Bramm on the third one," said Brandwene. "I was really pleased. It was a total team effort this weekend."

Play between the pipes this weekend was solid. While Hannah Ehresmann made 32 stops in Friday's loss, Celine Whitlinger earned her ninth win of the season by kicking away 32 shots on Saturday.

"I'm so proud of both Hannah and Celine with their preparation and their poise over the course of the entire weekend," said Brandwene. "They did a great job."

One area that stood out for Penn State against New Hampshire was the solid blue-line play by the defensive unit.

"It was another great effort from our D-core," said Brandwene. "Just fabulous gap control. Really poised in so many situations. They did a fabulous job, as well."

This weekend presented Penn State's final non-conference games of the season. With its final eight games all against conference opponents, the Nittany Lions intend to finish the regular season and enter the postseason strong.

"Keep working hard," said Brandwene. "Keep growing. One practice at a time. One shift at a time".

By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Pit bulls are often misunderstood. But, for junior forward Emily Laurenzi, that is not the case.

According to the American Kennel Club, there are more than 400 dog breeds worldwide. Based on a multitude of experiences, Laurenzi has decided to dedicate her life to protecting and rescuing the breed she is most zealous about, pit bulls.

"She just developed a real passion and affinity for [pit bulls], and it just spoke to her," said head coach Josh Brandwene. "Em has a heart of gold, and that's in everything that she does. The care and love she has for her teammates, and just the effort and commitment that she has put into the dog rescue does not surprise me in the least. It's who she is as a person."

Laurenzi's adoration for pit bulls began with Animal Planet's "Pit Bulls and Parolees" TV show. Episode after episode, her love for the breed grew exponentially. What the show did for Laurenzi was inspire her to want to rescue, as well.

The goal of the popular show is to raise awareness on a national level so that one day, caring people won't have to protect pit bulls.

So, on Pit Bull Awareness Day in 2013, Laurenzi met her match. She found the perfect pit bull to adopt.

She wanted to help this pit bull so badly that she even cried before a hockey game.

The Townsend, Del., native finally saved Gracie on November 3, which was about a week after the two first met.

"Gracie is good," said Laurenzi about her pit bull. "She's the nicest dog. Everybody on the team loves her. She comes to every game and wears a little Penn State jacket. She's like the mascot."

Following her first rescue, Laurenzi wanted to volunteer more, so she began to help out at the Delaware l Response-a-Bull Rescue, a place mostly for bully breeds.

Her care for pit bulls translates into a supportive teammate and friend. Being the warmhearted person that she is, her actions come as no surprise to those around her.

"[Laurenzi's pit bull work] has me speechless because it's so incredible," said teammate and roommate Jordin Pardoski. "Her passion for pit bulls...it's indescribable how much she cares about animals, especially that certain dog. She's always looking to help others out. She's one of the most selfless people I've ever met...and it shows on the ice."

Laurenzi's spare time is spent at home volunteering at Response-a-Bull Rescue. She provides a voice for a breed that so often receives a false impression.

"I would definitely call her a pit bull advocate," said Pardoski.

For right now, Laurenzi is focused on Nittany Lion hockey. However, following graduation she plans to start up her own shelter. Currently, she has a fund set up to save money to eventually start her own dog home.

"I want to have my own rescue one day," said Laurenzi. "I've already started a fund for myself. I don't have that much money in it, but every once in a while I put money in there. That's just a dream of mine to own my own one day."

By Tyler Feldman, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Junior goaltender Celine Whitlinger stopped 53 shots over the course of two games to help lead Penn State (12-9-3, 7-4-1 CHA) to a series sweep of conference foe RIT (8-14-3, 2-9-1 CHA) this past weekend at Pegula Ice Arena.

In Saturday's matinee, Whitlinger kicked away 27 bullets to push the Nittany Lions to victory, 2-1. Then, in Sunday afternoon's contest, Whitlinger posted 26 saves to preserve the win, 3-1.

"Celine was so efficient, so poised, so square all weekend long," said head coach Josh Brandwene. "I'm tremendously proud of her. It's all about her effort and it's all about the great job she's doing."

Freshman defenseman Bella Sutton, who had two goals and an assist on the weekend, echoed the words of her head coach.

"Having Celine back there is a huge weight off my shoulders just knowing we have great goalies behind us, so I'm just doing whatever I can to help her out and make sure I can block any shots that she can't see," said Sutton.

In game one, both teams skated out to strong starts. Despite a scoreless first period, the Nittany Lions outshot the Tigers, 12-8, and were on the doorstep of finding the back of the net.

After a misdirected shot by RIT's Jess Paton trickled past the left pad of Whitlinger 2:22 into the second period, Shannon Yoxheimer's power play goal tied things up at the 8:04 mark. Yoxheimer beautifully redirected Sutton's shot from the point to bury the biscuit.

"I love the work and the growth that both of our power play units continue to put in," said Brandwene. "I thought we had great looks on even the power plays that we had before. We broke through and scored, so we had great puck movement, great communication. And again, you got a good low shot from Bella and Shannon perfectly placed in front of the net."

Just over two minutes had ticked off the clock following Yoxheimer's goal when a wrist shot from Sutton atop the right wing circle provided the Nittany Lions with the game-winning goal.

"I got the puck at the point, and really I was just trying to throw it on net," said Sutton. "My teammates did a good job of screening and getting me that puck, so I just threw it on net and hoped for the best."

The Blue and White carried momentum into game two, as Laura Bowman netted her second shorthanded goal of the season at the 8:49 mark in the second period.

"Honestly, I was trying to go for a pad pass, but it ended up hitting the inside of [Binnington's] pad," said Bowman who has 12 goals on the season. "She does have a pretty open five-hole."

Sutton continued her "offensively-minded defenseman" mentality into the second game. The Shoreview, Minn., native gave Penn State a 2-0 lead when, on the power play, she fired a shot from the point through traffic past RIT's net minder, Ali Binnington.

"There was traffic in front...so I just got a nice shot through, hoping to get one on the net for my teammates to tip in or rebound in," said Sutton.

RIT cut the lead in half at the 12:31 mark in the third period when Cassie Clayton scored her second goal of the season. However, junior forward Hannah Hoenshell put the fans at ease just over a minute later when she found the back of the net for her fourth tally of the year to give the Blue and White a two-goal lead.

"Just from this weekend we know that when we stick to our game plan and everyone is doing their job that we will get the results we want as long as we're working 110 percent every shift," said Sutton.

The key for Penn State over the weekend was special teams play. The Tigers finished 0-for-9 on the power play, while the Nittany Lions managed to score two power play and one short-handed goal.

"Our team really prides ourselves on our special teams," said Bowman. "We have one of the best percentages in the league. Sometimes we actually get excited for the power play and penalty kill."

With the two triumphs, Penn State notched its second home series sweep of the season

"It feels great," said Sutton when asked about the series sweep. "It's really cool that our hard work is paying off, but we have to look forward to the next weekend. Enjoy this, but be ready to work hard this week to prepare for next weekend."

The Nittany Lions will look to extend their two-game winning streak next weekend, Jan. 23-24, as they travel to New Hampshire for their final two non-conference games of the season.

 

 

 

 

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