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Sept. 22, 2012
By Sean Flanery, GoPSUsports.com Student Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. --The Penn State women's hockey team began preparing for their inaugural season by holding the team's first official practice Saturday morning.
Anticipation continues to build around the newest division one sport on Penn State's campus as the season approaches. Team captain and junior forward Taylor Gross (Colorado Springs, Colo.) said it was exciting to finally get out on the ice as a team.
"It was awesome," said Gross. "Since it was the first practice, it had never been done before, so it was really cool stepping out on the ice for the first time as a whole team."
Alongside Gross, senior defenseman Lindsay Reihl (Cheshire, Conn.) and junior forward Jenna Welch (Austin, Texas) will help captain this Nittany Lion team during its first season. Welch described herself as having a lot of different feelings before practice.
"I had mixed emotions, excited, overwhelmed, but definitely ready for the season to start," said Welch. "I was just expecting everyone to bring it 110 percent and for us to begin learning new systems and stuff."
The Lions only have a few weeks to learn their new systems before the season officially begins with a two-game, weekend road trip to Vermont on Oct. 6-7.
"I can't wait for our first game," said Reihl. "I have been looking forward to it ever since I got on campus."
In his first season, Josh Brandwene will lead the Nittany Lions as their head coach. Gross described Brandwene as being really excited to get to work this year.
"The word I can use to explain it is pumped," said Gross. "He's so pumped to get on the ice and just from working with him before, he is really positive. I think he's going to continue to do that this year, just his positive attitude and his excitement for it is awesome."
The team is comprised of 17 freshmen and has only a handful of upperclassmen on the roster. Gross said she isn't concerned with the team's youth as long as they can focus on a few key things.
"The most important thing is to always stay positive," added Gross. "Especially with 17 freshmen and to just to continue to have really good chemistry and if we are able to do those two things then we are going to do a really good job."
Nevertheless, despite the team's youth, the Lions should benefit from home ice advantage early on in their schedule, playing eight of their first 12 games at home.
"Penn State has the greatest sports fans in the world, anywhere," said Brandwene. "We're so excited to have so many home games in the fall. It's going to be great to play in front of our home fans."
As Penn State gears up for their first game at Vermont, anticipation continues to build around the new division one program. After the quick two-game road trip, the Lions will return home to face-off against Syracuse, which will be a highly anticipated home debut of Penn State women's hockey. Brandwene said the team is focused and ready to begin the season.
"It's a fantastic group of student athletes, they're so motivated, so energetic and so enthusiastic," said Brandwene. "It makes it for us as coaches so much fun to come to the rink and work everyday. Our goals are to get better everyday and continue to improve. We want to be playing our best hockey at the end of the year come league playoff time."