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Celine Whitlinger's 59 saves kept the Nittany Lions in contention with the seventh-ranked Lakers.
Feb. 1, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion women's hockey team tried to play the role of spoiler on Friday night at Greenberg Ice Pavilion, but No. 7 Mercyhurst held on to a 5-2 win. Freshman goaltender Celine Whitlinger (Garden Grove, Calif.) was great in net, saving 59 shots, while fellow classmates Hannah Hoenshell (Plano, Texas) and Jordin Pardoski (Rochester Hills, Mich.) each tallied a goal in the Penn State rally.
After opening a three-goal lead, the Lakers (20-5-1, 11-2-0 CHA) were caught by a surging Penn State (7-18-1, 1-11-1 CHA) offense that out-scored the Lakers 2-1 over a 23-minute span in the second and third periods. For the last 33:39 of the game, PSU matched Mercyhurst on the scoreboard with two goals apiece.
Keyed by a beautiful pass from Paige Jahnke (Oakdale, Minn.), Hoenshell raced through the center of the ice and beat MU goalie Stephanie Ciampa (17 saves) glove side on a nifty deke. The goal was Hoenshell's eighth of the season and cut a 3-0 deficit to two goals 6:21 into the second period.
After a Christine Bestland power-play tally 10 minutes later put Mercyhurst ahead 4-1 entering the second intermission, Penn State scored on the second power play of the third period. Shannon Yoxheimer (Jackson, Mich.) fished out a puck near the left faceoff circle to Jess Desorcie (Westford, Vt.). Desorcie whipped the puck across the point to Pardoski as she rifled a shot that deflected off a Laker skate and past Ciampa.
The tally, which made the score 4-2 with 13:33 left in the game, lit a fire under the Penn State charges as Pardoski netted her third goal of the season. Bestland scored capped her hat trick on a fluky power play that saw Lindsay Reihl's (Cheshire, Conn.) clearance get blocked by an official, bounce to MU's Lauren Jones just feet from the net. Jones's shot were saved by Whitlinger, but Bestland cleaned up the rebound.
The Nittany Lions kept pursuing the Laker net in a period that saw the shot total read 16-10 for the visiting side. While the shot tally was tilted in MU's favor, PSU went on a series of power plays in the final 5:26.
At one point, the Lakers took two successive minors and Penn State pulled Whitlinger from her cage, resulting in a 6-on-3 scenario. Penn State's best chance came off a faceoff where Birdie Shaw (Troy, Mich.) was stoned by Ciampa and Yoxheimer's rebounding attempt was covered up by Ciampa, thwarting the Nittany Lion comeback.
For the game, Mercyhurst went 2-for-8 on the power play and registered 24 shots as Whitlinger stopped 22 of them. Penn State was 1-for-7 on the extra-skater advantage, tallying 11 attempts on net. The Lakers took eight penalties for 18 minutes and PSU had eight penalties for 16 minutes.
The final shot total was 64-19 for the Lakers who won their 20th game of the season on Friday night and are 10-time defending CHA champions. Whitlinger stopped 28 shots in the first period after a decided 30-3 shot advantage for Mercyhurst.
In Whitlinger's two appearances against Mercyhurst she has a .934 save percentage in 77:55 of action saving 85 shots. The freshman netminder has been on a tear of late, stopping over 95 percent of opponents' shots in her last seven appearances in 328:51 of play. Although she is 1-4-0 in that stretch, Whitlinger has a 2.19 goals-against average with 246 saves.
Two Nittany Lions recorded positive ratings Friday night as Jill Holdcroft (Pennsylvania Furnace, Pa.) and Emily Laurenzi (Townsend, Del.) were both plus-one. Holdcroft went 7-7 in the faceoff circle and Laurenzi was 10-12 as Mercyhurst dominated faceoffs 51-25.
The Lakers and Nittany Lions rematch on Saturday afternoon at Greenberg Ice Pavilion at 2 p.m. The game will be followed by an autograph session with the Penn State squad.
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