BLOG: Lions Excited to Defend Their Home Ice
Oct. 17, 2013
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The moment the Penn State women's hockey team has been anxiously awaiting is finally here--their first ever game at Pegula Ice Arena.
A year's worth of hype, eight months of construction and two-straight weekends of playing on the road later, the team will take their home ice for the first time on Friday at 7 p.m. against Union.
"I think everyone on our team is excited to finally get a chance to play in Pegula Ice Arena, especially after being on the road for the first two weekends," said senior forward Jess Desorcie. "We are just anxious to finally be able to play in the comfort of our own rink."
The rink officially opened for the team to utilize in early September, but there's something different about playing an actual game in front of the home crowd compared to just practicing on the new ice.
"This new arena has already helped us in taking our program to the next level and we can't wait to see what it feels like to actually play a game in it," said senior assistant captain Jenna Welch.
The Nittany Lions (1-2-1) dropped both contests on the road last weekend to Quinnipiac, and are hoping that playing on their home ice can help them get back on track this weekend in a highly-anticipated series against Union.
Throughout the road trip in Hamden, Conn., the team struggled moving the puck into the offensive zone, as they were outshot 112-39 and outscored 9-1 by the Bobcats.
That is an area that head coach Josh Brandwene's team will look to improve upon, with the key to generating more offense starting in the faceoff circle. Penn State is winning just 37 percent of their faceoffs this season.
Last season, competition in the faceoff circle was strikingly even when the Blue and White matched up against Union in Schenectady. Penn State won 45 battles in the circle compared to Union's 46. The Dutchwomen enjoyed victories in both of the matchups in mid-January against Brandwene's squad, earning 1-0 and 2-1 wins.
The brick wall goaltending duo of senior Nicole Paniccia and sophomore Celine Whitlinger turned away 82 pucks combined in the matchups with Union last year, and judging by their hot starts to this season--they are poised to do more of the same this weekend.
Each goalie has started two of the team's four games and the duo has combined to record 175 saves. Paniccia has deflected 82 shots this season while Whitlinger has turned away 93.
ECAC Hockey's Dutchwomen (2-3-0) head into Happy Valley this weekend riding a three-game losing streak after winning their first two games of the season. They have found success in slowing down some high-powered offenses so far this season, allowing only three goals per game.
This weekend marks the beginning of an eight-game home stand (four weekends) in Pegula Ice Arena for the Nittany Lions.
"Our first game is always exciting," said graduate student and defender Lindsay Reihl. "It was a lot of fun to go up to Vermont for the first weekend just like we did last season, but that won't even compare to our first game in Pegula Ice Arena."
Puck-drop is set for 7 p.m. on Friday and 2 p.m. on Saturday against Union.