BLOG: Lions Demonstrate Depth, All Lines Produce
Oct. 28, 2013
By Jackson Thibodeau, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
Throughout Saturday's 8-5 loss and Sunday's 3-1 setback to the Wildcats, the Nittany Lions demonstrated the promise that the young roster has, and they did so with their depth.
The team's consistent point producers, such as senior Taylor Gross, sophomore Shannon Yoxheimer and freshman Laura Bowman, earned their way onto the stat sheet again, but it was the production from deeper down the depth chart that stood out.
"We saw outstanding performances from a number of people," Brandwene said. "This is an incredibly coachable and resilient group."
Among these performances were outstanding efforts on Saturday from junior Jess Desorcie and sophomore Birdie Shaw, who each tallied their first points of the season on a Desorcie goal in the second period.
"Jess Desorcie and Birdie Shaw had an outstanding hockey game [on Saturday]," Brandwene said. "It was a real difference maker for us in terms of their energy, keeping things simple, and they got rewarded on the scoreboard with a really nice goal. That is a real plus for us moving forward."
Keeping things simple is something that the team has emphasized throughout this season to this point and will look to improve on following the weekend's setbacks.
"It came down to the little things," said Gross. "I think for the most part we stuck with them during the game, but we have to tighten up the small stuff in the neutral zone."
As proven by a New Hampshire shot attempt on Saturday that ricocheted off the pipe and nearly went in, hockey is a game of mere inches.
Fighting for every loose puck and digging their skates in deep throughout every inch of ice covered against the Wildcats was the Nittany Lions' third line. The sophomore-laden line of Emily Laurenzi, Jill Holdcroft and Hannah Hoenshell provided intangibles with their spark of energy and good decision-making.
Hoenshell's gritty play and hustle stood out in the series against Union two weekends ago, and she continued to impress with the same effort against UNH. The sophomore seemingly covered the entire ice throughout the weekend, registering two clutch assists and a blocked shot.
"A ton of growth from Hannah," Brandwene said. "Really pleased with some of the adjustments she has made this week. She's becoming really multi-faceted in terms of how she conducts herself offensively."
Supplementing the tremendous play from Hoenshell was Holdcroft, who was highly credited for her performance that wasn't rewarded on the stat sheet.
"Jill had her best game of the year, no doubt," Brandwene said. "She did an outstanding job for us out there and her line continues to play well."
Saturday's high-scoring showdown was a back-and-forth battle throughout nearly the entire contest, until the Wildcats pulled away late in the third to secure their three-goal victory. The Nittany Lions were phenomenal in responding to nearly every UNH goal, but were unable to do so late in the game.
Defense was much more prevalent in Sunday's game, as Penn State held their opponent scoreless through the first period and sophomore goaltender Celine Whitlinger recorded 32 saves. The Nittany Lions will look to combine the highly successful offensive performance of Saturday with the strong defensive stand on Sunday as they move forward.
"I think it's a combination of continual effort along with patience, good decision making and winning those small scale actions that are the key to give us an opportunity to be successful," said Brandwene. "Pressure and patience at the same time--that's something we have to get better at."
The resilient group will have a short week to bounce back from the tough losses and prepare for a two-game set with Robert Morris at home on Thursday at 7 p.m. and Friday at 4 p.m. The Blue and White will host Syracuse the following weekend to round out their eight-game home stand.