Nittany Lions Close Semester at Mercyhurst

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Hannah Hoenshell leads the Nittany Lion attack with seven assists this season.

Hannah Hoenshell leads the Nittany Lion attack with seven assists this season.

Dec. 5, 2013

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Nittany Lion women's hockey team heads to Erie, Pa. to finish the fall semester at Mercyhurst this Friday and Saturday. Penn State looks to upend the 11-time CHA regular season champion Lakers for the first time in series history.

PENN STATE (3-12-2, 1-7-0 CHA) at MERCYHURST (10-5-2, 3-2-1 CHA)
Games 18-19: Dec. 6-7, 2013 • Mercyhurst Ice Center • Erie, Pa.
VENUEMercyhurst Ice Center (1,500)
LAST MEETINGMercyhurst 4-1, 2/2/13
NEXT TIME OUTJan. 3-4 at Ohio State
Penn State Game Notes Get Acrobat Reader

• Penn State travels to perennial CHA power Mercyhurst for only series of December
• Nittany Lions are 1-0-1 in their past two games following 1-1 tie vs. Maine
• Five different goal scorers contributed in series split at Lindenwood
Shannon Yoxheimer scored off assists from Hannah Hoenshell, Jordin Pardoski
Nicole Paniccia has stopped 95.6 percent of all shots in her past four games
• Nittany Lion freshmen & sophomores have tallied 59 of team's 74 points
• Penn State's power kill has not allowed a goal in four of the past five games
• Mercyhurst swept St. Lawrence the last time out and is 3rd in the CHA standings

Penn State fought a gritty Maine squad on Saturday afternoon (Nov. 30) at Pegula Ice Arena as the two teams tied 1-1. Shannon Yoxheimer scored for the second straight game and Nicole Paniccia saved 44 shots. Yoxheimer broke the scoreless game off a feed from Hannah Hoenshell and Jordin Pardoski with 5:15 left in the second period. The goal was Yoxheimer's fifth of the season, while Hoenshell and Pardoski notched their seventh and fourth assists, respectively. The action-packed second period, which featured 32 shots, wouldn't conclude in Penn State's favor. Maine's Brianne Kilgour bagged her third goal of the year with just nine seconds remaining. Neither team could find the game-winner in the third period or overtime.

Senior netminder Nicole Paniccia is returning to her stellar form following a pair of tough efforts. In her last four outings against Syracuse, RIT, Lindenwood and Maine, Paniccia has a goals-against average of 1.74 with 151 saves and a .956 save percentage. In her previous two outings against New Hampshire and Robert Morris, Paniccia had a goals-against average of 5.58 with 61 saves and an .847 save percentage.

The addition of four freshmen: Laura Bowman, Amy Petersen, Sarah Nielsen and Kelly Seward have injected an instant bump in scoring production with 20 of the team's 74 points. To prove the youth of the team, 59 of the team's 74 points (79.7%) were collectively tallied by freshmen and sophomores. Eight of the team's top nine point scorers are underclassmen.

Celine Whitlinger, a 5-8 Californian goaltender, has been outstanding in net for Penn State. Whitlinger (3-5-0) has already surpassed her win total from a year ago and has stopped 92.8 percent of the shots she's seen. In 18 appearances for Penn State, Whitlinger has a career .934 save percentage, while averaging 38.2 saves per game.

Penn State has had the fortune of multiple contributors on the offensive end. Eleven Nittany Lions have scored a goal this season, while 17 have registered a point. Shannon Yoxheimer leads the team with 11 points, Taylor Gross has 10 points, while Hannah Hoenshell and Laura Bowman have nine and seven points, respectively.

The Nittany Lions have been efficient in their penalty killing of late, shutting out their opponents in four of the past five games. RIT, Lindenwood and Maine went a combined 2-for-16 (12.5%) on the power play. Prior to the RIT series, opponents went 15-for-47 (31.9%).

For the fifth time this season, the Nittany Lions faced a team receiving votes in the national rankings in Mercyhurst. Quinnipiac and Robert Morris are now ranked in both polls, while Syracuse and New Hampshire were both receiving votes when the teams visited Hockey Valley. Last season, Penn State played just one ranked opponent, Mercyhurst (four times), while Robert Morris earned votes during the first series in Nov. 2012, falling in all eight games. Penn State has dropped all eight games against teams who are in the polls or received votes this season.

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, six of 12 losses are by a goal and Penn State is 1-6-2 in games decided by one goal or less, including the past five losses against Syracuse, RIT and Lindenwood. PSU is 2-12-3 all-time in games decided by less than a goal.

Mercyhurst (10-5-2, 3-2-1 CHA) enters this series with Penn State having received votes in both the and USA Today/USA Hockey polls each of the past two weeks. Despite trailing Robert Morris and RIT in College Hockey America they earned splits in each series against the two teams. The Lakers also defeated and tied the current No. 6/7 ranked Clarkson squad back in October. Mercyhurst is led by Christine Bestland who ranks 10th in the nation with 23 points on the season. Christie Cicero leads the Lakers who average just under three goals a game with eight goals on the campaign. Amanda Makela has started 16 of the 17 games for the Lakers this season sporting a 1.954 GAA, ninth best in the nation.

All-Time Series: MU leads 4-0-0
PSU Streak: 4 losses
First Meeting: 11/30/12, MU, 5-0
Last Meeting: 2/2/13, MU 4-1
Last PSU Win: n/a
Last MU Win: 2/2/13, MU 4-1
Largest PSU Win: n/a
Largest MU Win: 7-1, 12/1/12

2/2/13: L, 1-4 - H
2/1/13: L, 2-5 - H
12/1/12: L, 1-7 - A
11/30/12: L, 0-5 - A

Penn State and Mercyhurst have four common opponents thus far in the season. The Nittany Lions are 0-6-1 against Maine, RIT, Robert Morris and Syracuse, while Mercyhurst is 5-2-1.

Penn State will head back out on the road when they visit Columbus, Ohio to face the Ohio State Buckeyes on Jan. 3-4 after almost a month off from games. The meeting will be the first between these two programs.



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