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Feb. 16, 2014
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's hockey team went toe-to-toe with No. 8 Mercyhurst on Sunday afternoon, but the Lions were unable to turn the Senior Day upset in a 4-1 loss at Pegula Ice Arena. The Lakers needed three third-period goals to ward off the gutsy Nittany Lions.
On the day where Penn State honored the careers of Nicole Paniccia (Oakville, Ont.), Taylor Gross (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Jenna Welch (Austin, Texas), Lindsay Reihl (Cheshire, Conn.) and Tess Weaver (Windber, Pa.), the Nittany Lions played their best game yet against the 11-time College Hockey America champions. Paniccia stood out among the quintet with her game-high 48 saves.
Following a scoreless opening period where Paniccia made all 20 saves, the Nittany Lions (4-25-3, 1-16-1 CHA) jumped out in front 4:52 into the second period on a Hannah Hoenshell (Plano, Texas) back-handed goal, prompting thoughts of a historic upset. Paige Jahnke (Oakdale, Minn.) poked the puck up the dashers in her own zone to a skating Hoenshell. Hoenshell carried the puck through the neutral zone, slicing the Mercyhurst defense and rounding in on frame, scoring her fifth goal of the season.
The Lakers fought back on a Paige Horton rocket from the point that jetted past Paniccia's left shoulder to tie the score 8:27 into the period. A diving Emily Janiga won the puck below the net to Christine Bestland before tossing it up to Horton who scored her second of the year.
The Lakers went on a power play right after the equalizer and Penn State killed it off. With nine minutes remaining a rush by Shannon Yoxheimer (Jackson, Mich.) and Hoenshell produced two of the best chances of the day for Penn State that nearly produced Penn State's second lead. Yoxheimer was stopped on a breakaway and Hoenshell looked to duplicate her earlier goal, but her back-handed effort was stopped by Amanda Makela (18 saves).
Shots were 16-6 in favor of Mercyhurst in the second period and 36-9 overall. Nonetheless the two teams skated into their respective locker rooms tied at one apiece.
Mercyhurst showed a renewed energy in the third period as the Lakers fired four straight shots in the opening minute but Paniccia stoned them all. Penn State attempted to recapture the lead as Yoxheimer's right-winged effort was saved and Gross's follow up shot was also stopped on the goal line by Makela to keep the deadlock.
The Nittany Lions were unable to keep Mercyhurst at bay as the Lakers scored on their fourth power play of the day as Molly Byrne put Mercyhurst ahead for the first time. The goal came at 5:35 from Janiga and Jenna Dingeldein with just 21 seconds remaining on the penalty.
Mercyhurst would stretch the lead to 3-1 at 9:22 on Dingeldein's 13th goal of the year assisted by Janiga's third helper of the game.
Despite the two-goal advantage, Penn State had one more opportunity as the Lakers committed two straight penalties with 6:32 to go and 3:12 to go. Penn State's best chances came in front of net on shots by Jill Holdcroft (Pennsylvania Furnace, Pa.) and Laura Bowman (Minnetonka, Minn.) on a rebound, but the Lakers held on and scored an empty netter to cap the score at 4-1. Shots were 16-10 for MU in the third frame.
Penn State went 0-for-4 on the power play while the Lakers went 1-for-4 and faceoffs were even at 27-27. Bowman went 10-13, while Sarah Nielsen (Edina, Minn.) and Emily Laurenzi (Townsend, Del.) went 7-4 and 7-6, respectively.
Penn State's team defense produced 22 blocked shots to Mercyhurst's nine. Amy Petersen (Minnetonka, Minn.) led all skaters with four blocks, while Kelly Seward (Williamsville, N.Y.) and Reihl each had three to pace the defense.
The Nittany Lions' regular-season finishes next week at Robert Morris with a two-game set on Friday and Saturday. The Colonials are ranked ninth in the nation.