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Nittany Lions Take Inaugural Opener at Vermont, 5-3

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Shannon Yoxheimer scored two goals in her Nittany Lion debut on Saturday.

Oct. 6, 2012

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BURLINGTON, Vt. - Penn State women's hockey made history on Saturday at Vermont's Gutterson Fieldhouse by winning its inaugural game, 5-3. The Nittany Lions scored five goals from three freshmen making their respective debuts as junior goaltender Nicole Paniccia (Oakville, Ont.) made 31 saves in her PSU opener. Shannon Yoxheimer (Jackson, Mich.) and Micayla Catanzariti (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) each scored twice for the Nittany Lions.

"It's almost hard to put it into words at this point," Head coach Josh Brandwene said. "What a gutsy effort by such a young group of kids...Give credit to Vermont, they came storming back and made it 4-3, (the student-athletes) never blinked and I'm so proud of them for that."

Down 2-1, Penn State (1-0-0) was not to be deterred, reeling off three straight goals to take a 4-2 lead midway through the third period. Despite a Vermont (0-1-0) goal with 6:34 left in the third, Birdie Shaw (Troy, Mich.) scored an empty-net goal to seal the Nittany Lion victory. Junior captain Taylor Gross (Colorado Springs, Colo.) made her Penn State debut known with two assists and was named the first star of the game, Yoxheimer was second.

Penn State took control of the opening face-off by Emily Laurenzi (Townsend, Del.) to officially kick off the team's inception as a varsity program. From there Vermont tallied the first goal 4:41 later before freshman Yoxheimer notched the first goal in school history 12 minutes later.

Yoxheimer's historic goal was set up by Laurenzi as her shot was saved by UVM's Roxanne Douville and pegged home by the freshman lefthander to tie it 1-1. Taylor Gross (Colorado Springs, Colo.) was credited with an assist on the play, finding Laurenzi on the initial shot.

The Nittany Lions took a penalty just 30 seconds later and Vermont capitalized again as Delia McNally fired home the go-ahead goal with three minutes left in the first. The Catamounts out-shot Penn State 11-7 in the opening frame.

Penn State fought back in the second as Catanzariti scored two goals. The first came just as a power play expired off a shot from Madison Smiddy (Grand Rapids, Mich.) at the point and Catanzariti tipped it in. Fourteen minutes later, Catanzariti doubled her output when hometown native Jess Desorcie (Westford, Vt.) and Shaw combined to find the Californian for a 3-2 lead, the first in Penn State history.

In the third period, Yoxheimer finished off a play set up by Gross on the right wing for a 4-2 lead midway through the stanza.

"[The freshmen] are so energetic, so enthusiastic," Brandwene said. "They want to do so well and their hard work paid off, I'm really proud of them as well."

As for the meaning of the game, it being the first Penn State varsity hockey game since 1947, and the significant win, Brandwene had difficulty describing it.

"It's almost tough to quantify," Brandwene said. "We grinded and grinded for 11 or so practices, once the start of official camp opened up, and to come out here and do what they did today is just a really special thing for the program. I'm really proud of them all."

Between the pipes, Paniccia kept Penn State in the game when Vermont put loads of offensive pressure in the Nittany Lion end. Paniccia stopped nine shots in the first period, 12 in the second and 10 in the third. The 12 stops in the second period were crucial as the Nittany Lions outscored the Catamounts 2-0. Vermont goaltender Roxanne Douville took the loss, allowing four goals and stopping 19 shots.

The win marked the first time since 1943 a Penn State varsity hockey team carded a victory. The varsity men's team defeated Drexel Tech, 4-1, on Feb. 17, 1943. The team folded in 1947, the season before NCAA hockey officially began, making Saturday's win the first NCAA victory in school history.

Game: Oct. 6, 2012 at Vermont, 2:00 p.m.
Win: same, 5-3
Goal: Shannon Yoxheimer
Game-Winning Goal: Shannon Yoxheimer
Assists: Taylor Gross, Emily Laurenzi
Faceoff: Emily Laurenzi
Faceoff win: Emily Laurenzi
Shot: Katie Zinn
Save: Nicole Paniccia
Empty-Net Goal: Birdie Shaw
Multi-Goal Game: Micayla Catanzariti





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