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Nittany Lions to Host No. 8 Lakers Saturday, Sunday

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Jill Holdcroft

Feb. 14, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Nittany Lion women's hockey hosts its first nationally ranked team at Pegula Ice Arena Saturday (8 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.) as No. 8 Mercyhurst comes to town. Penn State hosts its Share the Love Food Drive this weekend and fans who bring a non-perishable item to the arena receive free entry.

PENN STATE (4-23-3, 1-14-1 CHA) vs. #8 MERCYHURST (19-7-3, 12-3-1 CHA)
Games 31-32: February 15-16, 2014 • Pegula Ice Arena • University Park, Pa.
VENUEPegula Ice Arena (5,782)
SATURDAY COVERAGELive Video ($) | Live Stats
SUNDAY COVERAGELive Video ($) | Live Stats
LAST MEETINGDec. 8, 2013; MU 8-0
NEXT TIME OUTFeb. 21-22 at Robert Morris
Penn State Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

All weekend: Penn State hosts its Share the Love Food Drive this weekend and fans who bring a non-perishable item to the arena receive free entry. Food items benefit the State college Food Bank.

Saturday: The Nittany Lions play after the men's team takes on Michigan State. Any fan attending the men's game can stick around for the women's game for free. Those fans will get to sit in the comfy confines of the Club Level with a chance to win prizes with shows running on the video board between the games.

Sunday: Penn State celebrates the careers of five Nittany Lions: Taylor Gross, Linsday Reihl, Nicole Paniccia, Tess Weaver and Jenna Welch. The quintet will be honored with their families and friends after the game on the ice.

Saturday: Parking at Shields and Wagner Buildings will be free as usual.

Sunday: Fans are advised that traffic around the sports complex will be very busy due to the women's basketball Pink Zone game at Bryce Jordan Center. Women's hockey fans can park for free in the lot near the Wagner building or East Area Parking Deck located on Bigler Road between Curtin Road and Park Avenue.

The Limited Bag Policy is in effect for these contests. Contents brought to the game must be in a clear, gallon-sized bag or a jacket.

• Penn State hosts Mercyhurst at Pegula Ice Arena for the first time
• Sunday represents PSU's Senior Day. Taylor Gross, Lindsay Reihl, Nicole Paniccia, Jenna Welch and Tess Weaver will be honored
• The Nittany Lions look to earn their first victory over the Lakers
• Penn State fell in both games against Mercyhurst in December
• PSU was swept by Lindenwood last weekend in a pair of one-goal games
• Nittany Lions freshmen have scored 26.5 percent of the team's points
• Penn State freshmen & sophomores have tallied 82 of team's 103 points
• Mercyhurst has won five in a row and is ranked eighth nationally

Penn State will honor five graduating Nittany Lions on Sunday's game against Mercyhurst. There will be a brief pre-game acknowledgement before a formal post-game ceremony. Sunday's game will be the last at Pegula Ice Arena for graduate student Lindsay Reihl, seniors Taylor Gross, Nicole Paniccia and Jenna Welch, while junior Tess Weaver also features in her final game for the Blue and White. Weaver will graduate a year early. Entering this weekend, the graduating class has combined for 260 games played in the Blue and White, while scoring 20 goals and 30 assists for 50 points. The quintet also saved/blocked a combined 1,822 shots while at Penn State.

Penn State dropped a pair of heartbreaking games to Lindenwood at Pegula Ice Arena, 2-1 and 4-3 (OT), Feb. 8-9. In both games Penn State trailed by two goals and staged a comeback. While the Lions didn't make it all the way back on Saturday in the 2-1 loss, they did on Sunday forcing OT after a 3-1 deficit. In the overtime session, PSU shot eight times on net, but all were saved before Lindenwood's only shot of overtime found the back of the net for the sweep.

Jenna Welch scored her first goal of year in Saturday's 2-1 loss, while Laura Bowman, Amy Petersen and Jordin Pardoski tallied goals for the Nittany Lions in Sunday's game. Nicole Paniccia was in net for both games, the first time Penn State went with the same goaltender in a single weekend as she made 48 saves in 121-plus minutes of action.

The sweep was the first by either team in the series as Lindenwood now leads 5-2-1 all-time. The difference in the series was the power play as Lindenwood went 3-for-5, while Penn State went 0-for-9.

The eighth-ranked Lakers (19-7-3, 12-3-1 CHA) have quietly ascended to the top of the CHA table on the heels of a five-game conference winning streak. In the CHA alone, Mercyhurst has gone 10-1-0 in its past 11 contests dating back to Nov. 23 following a 2-2-1 start. Last week, MU secured sole possession of first place with dominating wins over RIT, 5-1 and 5-2.

Mercyhurst's high-powered offense scores at a clip of 3.5 goals per game while firing nearly 38 shots on frame. The Lakers look to get ahead early as evidenced by a 36-13 edge in the first period. Five Lakers share the scoring wealth with Christine Bestland (15) leading the way followed by Emily Janiga (14), Christine Cicero (14), Kaleigh Chippy (13) and Jenna Dingeldein (12). Defender Molly Byrne ranks sixth on the team in points with 22 on the back of 20 assists and two goals, while posting a plus-29 rating. In net, Amanda Makela (17-6-3) has started 26 of 29 games with a 1.99 goals-against average and .924 save percentage.

All-Time Series: MU leads 6-0-0 PSU Streak: 6 losses First Meeting: 11/30/12, MU, 5-0 Last Meeting: 12/7/13, MU 8-0 Last PSU Win: n/a Last MU Win: 12/7/13, 8-0 Last Tie: n/a Largest PSU Win: n/a Largest MU Win: 8-0, 12/7/13

Penn State has had the fortune of multiple contributors on the offensive end. Twelve Nittany Lions have scored a goal this season, while 19 have registered a point. A quartet of Nittany Lions lead with 14 points: Shannon Yoxheimer, Taylor Gross, Hannah Hoenshell and Laura Bowman. Amy Petersen closes out the double-digit point scorers with 13.

The addition of four freshmen: Laura Bowman, Amy Petersen, Sarah Nielsen and Kelly Seward have injected an instant bump in scoring production with 32 of the team's 103 points (26.5%). To prove the youth of the team, 82 of the team's 103 points (79.6%) have been collectively tallied by freshmen and sophomores. Nine of the team's top 10 point scorers are underclassmen.

Penn State's record of 7-26-2 last season is a little deceiving when considering how close the Nittany Lions were in many of their losses. In fact, 12 of the 26 losses were decided by two goals or less. This year, 10 of 23 losses are by a goal and Penn State is 2-10-3 in games decided by one goal or less. PSU is 3-16-4 all-time in games decided by less than a goal.

Penn State's Feb. 1 game against RIT was the second annual Skate for the Cure, which proved to a huge success. A crowd of 1,795, a record for a women's game at Pegula Ice Arena, saw the Nittany Lions and Tigers take the ice. Penn State donned specially made pink jerseys, which were auctioned off, while RIT sported pink tape on its sticks and socks. The program raised over $5,000 in donations, which will benefit THON and Pink Zone.

Penn State finishes the regular season with a two-game road trip to second-place Robert Morris. Friday's game is set for a 3 p.m. opening faceoff at 84 Lumber Arena on Neville Island before Saturday's regular-season finale at 3 p.m.

The Nittany Lions will take part in their second College Hockey America Tournament starting Feb. 28. Penn State will be the No. 6 seed for the second straight year, traveling to the yet-to-be determined No. 3 seed for a three-game series Feb. 28-March 2. The winning team will advance to the CHA Semifinals March 7 at the home of the No. 1 seeded team.




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