Ice Hockey Recap: Winning in the CHA

It's been a bit of a hard luck season for the NCAA women's team. There has undoubtedly been a lot of growing, and a lot of learning exactly how good some of these more established programs are. But there have been more than enough games where the ladies deserved a better fate than what the scoreboard showed. While Nicole Paniccia and Shannon Yoxheimer have garnered the lion's share of the attention (and deservedly so), there have been a number of solid players who deserve some mention. Taylor Gross and Jess Desorcie have both been very productive offensively, while freshmen Jill Holdcroft and Hannah Hoenshell (who has played in just 9 of the 14 games) both are tied for second on the team (with T. Gross) with 4 goals this season. On defense, Madison Smiddy has been effective both offensively (1G-5A-6P) and defensively (+/- rating of +3), and Paige Jahnke has been solid defensively with a very solid +5 rating so far this season. And I would be remiss to overlook forward Micayla Catanzariti, who has amassed a quiet-but-valuable 3 goals this season, while being the team leader in blocked shots (24). The fact that a scoring forward is the team leader in blocks (and not a defenseman, as is expected) is highly impressive to this defense-first writer and fan.

As for the other teams, the Ice Lions held down the fort at the Greenberg, keeping up with an old ACHA D1 rivalry now being played at the D2 level. Other than that, there wasn't much action as the NCAA Men had the weekend off, as did the ACHA ladies. Just a quick fun fact about the men's team - Mike McDonagh (who was an Icer before the move-to-NCAA news broke) currently sits 4th on the team in scoring (1G-5A-6P). For me, it's nice to see one of the "legacy Icers" playing well at the NCAA level.

Women's NCAA D1:

November 16, 2012 1 2 3 Final
PENN STATE 1 0 0 1
Lindenwood 1 2 2 5
PSU Goals: Holdcroft (3)
Penn State SOG: 16
Lindenwood SOG: 37

Summary: With both teams looking to get their first conference win of the season, the weekend set against Lindenwood would be about who could get the jump on their opponent first. For much of the weekend, that would fall in favor of Lindenwood. In Friday's game, LU would score within the first 4 minutes of all three periods, allowing the Lady Lions (not of the Nittany variety) to control the tempo of each period. PSU's Jill Holdcroft would counter LU's powerplay goal in the first to make it a 1-1 game after the first period. But the early 2nd period goal for Lindenwood just 78 seconds in helped tilt the momentum in favor of the home team. Lindenwood added a PP goal later in the period, and two goals in the third made it an easy 5-1 win for the Lindenwood Lady Lions. PSU played well in the first and third periods, but penalties in the 2nd period stalled any comeback efforts for the Nittany Lions.

November 17, 2012 1 2 3 Final
PENN STATE 1 0 2 3
Lindenwood 1 0 1 2
PSU Goals: Holdcroft (4), Gross (4), Laurenzi (2)
Penn State SOG: 33
Lindenwood SOG: 30

Summary: In a continuation from Friday night's game, it would be the Lindenwood Lady Lions jumping out to the early lead, scoring less than 3 minutes into the game. Just like Friday night, Penn State responded on the stick of Jill Holdcroft, scoring her second powerplay goal in as many games. In a reversal from Friday, however, it was Lindenwood taking the penalties to slow their momentum. It was a much even second period, with Nicole Paniccia turning away all 14 LU shots in the period to keep it a 1-1 tie. The third period saw Lindenwood grab the 2-1 lead just short of seven minutes into the period. But Penn State would not go quietly this night. 36 seconds after LU took the lead, Taylor Gross would counter with a game-tying goal. With 7:37 left in the game, LU would take a hooking penalty and Penn State would take advantage. Emily Laurenzi would put home her second goal of the season, giving PSU the late 3-2 lead. LU would get their chances late, but Paniccia would turn them all away, as Penn State would hold on for their first ever CHA conference win, winning 3-2.

Season Record: 5-8-1 Overall, 1-6-1 CHA

Next Opponent: The ladies have off for the Thanksgiving break for heading back on the road for a weekend set against CHA leader #4 Mercyhurst (12-1-1, 4-0-0). It will be by far the biggest test of the season for the women's team.

The ACHA Round-up: With everyone on the road (including most of the students), the Ice Lions had the Greenberg Ice Pavilion basically to themselves. And in a case of "Old Rivalries Never Die", the Ice Lions welcomed the ACHA D2 Ohio Bobcats to Happy Valley for a weekend set. Although I do not have the full stats available, I can tell you that Friday night ended with a blowout win for the Ice Lions, skating to an easy 8-0 win over Ohio. As is the case in sports (and I'm pretty sure only in sports), one night's blowout turns into a slugfest the next night. Unfortunately for Penn State, it would be Ohio coming away as the victor, garnering a split with a 6-4 win. The Ice Lions definitely have the talent to be very successful again this season, but they will need to pick up their consistency if they want to achieve their full potential. The Ice Lions are on break until December, when they host (D2) Delaware on 12/7 and Temple on 12/8.

D2 Women's team remains on their extended bye. They're still hoping to fill the schedule opening in December, but that might be less and less of a realistic option.

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