Ice Hockey Recap: Improved CHA Play and Ghosts from the ACHA

The men looked to finally sweep a team they should easily beat, while the women's team looked to show how far they've come against the best team in the conference.

The men continued their weekend rotation of NCAA and exhibition games, this time welcoming long-time ACHA rival Ohio University back to Pennsylvania. The Friday night game was played at yet another stop on the "Penn State Ice Hockey Tour of Pennsylvania", this time playing at the GIANT Center in Hershey. The two teams returned to State College for the normal Saturday night tilt at the Greenberg.

The women found themselves with a very busy week. First up was a Tuesday night battle with Princeton, followed by the normal weekend set with CHA-powerhouse and 7th-ranked Mercyhurst. The Lakers completely dominated the first two games in Erie, winning by a combined score of 12-1.

Men's NCAA D1:

February 1, 2013 1 2 3 Final
Ohio (ACHA) 1 0 0 1
PENN STATE 2 4 0 6
PSU Goals: Bailey (2), Glen, Brooks, Longo, Yanis
Ohio SOG: 14
Penn State SOG: 37

Summary: Penn State did their normal thing of allowing the first goal of the game, with the Bobcats taking the 1-0 lead just 6 minutes into the game. Thankfully, the Nittany Lions settled down and began to take control of the game. Scoring superstars Casey Bailey and David Glen led the way for Penn State, both scoring in the first period to give Penn State a 2-1 lead. The second period was all Penn State. In a four minute span midway through the period, Kenny Brooks, Casey Bailey, Michael Longo, and Mark Yanis would each light the lamp, building a 6-1 lead and running the Ohio starting goaltender from the game. Penn State eased off the gas from there, reducing their offensive chances while focusing on shutting down Ohio's shots. The end result was a 6-1 victory and a 37-14 shot advantage.

February 2, 2013 1 2 3 Final
Ohio (ACHA) 1 1 1 3
PENN STATE 2 0 3 5
PSU Goals: Bailey (2), Saad, Sweetland, Loik,
Ohio SOG: 37
Penn State SOG: 53

Summary: Saturday's first period mirrored Friday's game - Ohio takes the early lead, Penn State responds with two goals to take a 2-1 lead after one period. (This time it was Bailey and George Saad scoring for the Nittany Lions.) Unlike Friday night's game, Penn State wouldn't pull away from Ohio in this one. Instead, it was Ohio that continued to press the action, tying the game at 2-2 early in the second period. That would remain the score into the third period, when Ohio would yet again score very early in the period to take a 3-2 lead. (Ohio would score all 3 goals in this game in the first 2 minutes of each period.) As visions of Arizona State's rebound win started to weigh on the minds of Penn State fans, Peter Sweetland would come through with a game-tying goal halfway through the period. Penn State kept up the pressure, and with less than five minutes remaining, Curtis Loik finally put the Nittany Lions back on top, 4-2. Bailey would cap his 4-goal weekend with an empty net goal, giving Penn State the 5-2 win. Finally, this Penn State team swept a lower-tier opponent. Also, I'll never complain about (still) having the last laugh against the Bobcats.

Season Record: 10-13-0 (8-11-0 NCAA D1) (4-2-0 in exhibition play, not included in the season record)

Next Opponents: Penn State returns to playing NCAA D1 opponents next weekend, when fellow-independent Alabama-Huntsville comes to State College. These two teams do have a bit of history, as the teams played a handful of games during the 80's. The Chargers have struggled mightily this season, standing with a record of 3-17-1, with only one win (and the tie) coming against NCAA D1 opponents. I have a soft-spot for UAH, considering the program has been killed and revived twice in recent years. Hopefully their move to the CCHA next season will help stabilize and rebuild that program.

Women's NCAA D1:

January 29, 2013 1 2 3 Final
Princeton 1 1 1 3
PENN STATE 0 0 0 0
PSU Goals:
Princeton SOG: 30
Penn State SOG: 19

Summary: In what was a close game throughout, the Nittany Lions' only failure on this night was getting the puck past the Princeton goaltenders. The two teams played a very even first period, with the Tigers getting on the board in the final five minutes of the period. Princeton then jumped out quickly in the second period, scoring just 39 seconds into the period. The Tigers would go on to control much of the period, outshooting Penn State 14-6 in the period. But PSU goaltender Nicole Paniccia made sure it remained only a two-goal deficit for the Nittany Lions. Penn State found jump back on the attack in the third period. But any hopes for a comeback were ended halfway through the period, when Princeton added their third goal of the night. It would remain a tight third period, but the Nittany Lions could not break through, giving the Tigers the 3-0 victory.

February 1, 2013 1 2 3 Final
#7 Mercyhurst 2 2 1 5
PENN STATE 0 1 1 2
PSU Goals: Hoenshell (8), Pardoski (3)
Mercyhurst SOG: 64
Penn State SOG: 19

February 2, 2013 1 2 3 Final
#7 Mercyhurst 0 2 2 4
PENN STATE 0 0 1 1
PSU Goals: Holdcroft (9)
Mercyhurst SOG: 50
Penn State SOG: 12

Summary: Here's what is not surprising from these games: Mercyhurst won both games and dominated the shots on goal for each game. Here's what is surprising and not as readily apparent from the box scores: Penn State looked like a much improved team in both games. In Friday night's game, Mercyhurst dominated the first period, taking the 2-0 lead with a dominating 30-3 shot advantage. Kudos to goalie Celine Whitlinger for stopping 28-of-30 shots in those first 20 minutes. But from there, it was a fairly close game, with the two teams trading goals for the remainder of the game. MU made it 3-0 early in the 2nd period, but Hannah Hoenshell counter just a couple minutes later. MU would extend the lead to 4-1 late in the 2nd period, but Jordin Pardoski responded early in the 3rd period to make it 4-2. The Lakers made it 5-2 a few minutes later, but Penn State looked like a much more agressive team in the period, putting up 10 shots in the period.

After Whitlinger's 59-save performance the night before, it was Paniccia looking to help continue Penn State's solid weekend against Mercyhurst. And in what might be one of the bigger surprises of the season, the Nittany Lions were equals with Mercyhurst in the first period, keeping the shot totals reasonable (11-6 for MU), but more importantly, keeping the game scoreless. The Lakers started to take over the game in the second period (perhaps being the third game of the week started to wear on the PSU ladies), taking a 2-0 lead while outshooting Penn State, 20-3. It was still just a 2-0 game with less than 7 minutes left in the 3rd period, when the Lakers extended their lead, making it 4-0 final minutes. Jill Holdcroft would add a late powerplay goal to make the score, 4-1 - an unfitting end to an otherwise very well-played weekend for the first year squad.

Season Record: 7-19-1 Overall, 1-12-1 CHA

Next Opponent: The women's team will be looking to snap their 7-game losing streak next weekend, when they host the Lindenwood Lions (3-23-2, 3-9-2). These two teams split the first meeting, with Lindenwood taking the first game 5-1, and Penn State bouncing back the next night with a 3-2 victory. These games will be the final home games of the season for the women's team, and the final games for Kate Christoffersen and assistant captain Lindsay Reihl.

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