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By: Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- A year older and a year wiser, the Penn State sophomores look to improve on the team's success from last year. The foursome of second-years can expect an increased leadership role on the team now that they have a year's worth of experience from which to build.
Defenseman Kelsey Crow tallied a pair of goals and assists in her initial campaign as a Nittany Lion, but she acknowledged the improvements she made in the offseason to help prepare her for the 2016-17 season.
"Over the summer, one thing I think I realized I struggled with was being an offensive threat," said Crow. "As a defenseman, I want to be able to shoot the puck through traffic and be able to create really good rebound opportunities or maybe join the rush more.
"One thing I still want to work on is one-timers, I want to be able to put myself in a position where I can take those shots. The beauty of that shot is that I can catch the goalie off guard a little. It's quick and it's more likely to create rebounds so I want to be able to use that shot to create more scoring opportunities."
Crow also senses a renewed energy in the locker room with the arrival of the new freshman class.
"We've had four or five years to get this program going," said Crow. "People that have been here and even the new girls understand there is a very family-type aspect of this team and every single girl is clicking with each other. I'm looking forward to seeing that chemistry develop further on the ice and helping us to win games."
Forward Victoria Samuelsson takes a slightly different perspective, excited for an increased role on the team as a second-year player.
"It feels good [not being a freshman anymore], I feel like I'm getting more of a place on the team," said Samuelsson. "That always builds confidence. Our team is doing really well and bringing a lot of energy every day."
Samuelsson finished 2015-16 with a goal and 12 assists, ranking second all-time in assists by a freshman in Penn State history. Her father, Ulf Samuelsson, played 15 years in the NHL and was an instrumental part of her development as a player.
"He helped me become the hockey player I am today," said Samuelsson. "It motivated me and it brought our family closer too."
You can see the team on the ice this weekend as there is an exhibition Saturday at 4 p.m. against Guelph at Pegula Ice Arena. The regular season begins Sept. 30 at Clarkson.