Ice Hockey Recap: Of Close Losses and ACHA Blowouts

A wiser fellow than myself once said, "Sometimes you eat the bar, and sometimes the bar, well, it eats you." So it goes with sports, and hockey is no exception. A season's momentum can change on a tam from week to week, and even good weekends end with poor results. That's where all four teams found themselves this weekend - seven games between the four teams, and all seven games saw great performances by the players in Blue and White. The only question left was which teams would be rewarded for their solid play.


December 7, 2012 1 2 3 OT Final
PENN STATE 0 3 1 0 4
Holy Cross 1 1 2 1 5
PSU Goals: Bailey (5), Glen (8), Varley (2), Milley (4)
Penn State SOG: 25
Holy Cross SOG: 37

Summary: Early in Friday's game, it seemed the jump in the opponent's talent-level caused quite an adjustment for the Nittany Lions. Holy Cross came out with all the energy in the first period, outshooting PSU 16-5 and getting the game's first goal. But Penn State rebounded soundly in the second, taking the action to the Crusaders. The line of Casey Bailey-David Glen-Jonathan Milley asserted their dominance, accounting in someway for the three goals in the 2nd period. A late Holy Cross powerplay goal in the 2nd made it a 3-2 Penn State lead after 40 minutes of play. The Bailey-Glen-Milley would get yet another goal to kick off the 3rd period right. But Holy Cross would not go quietly into the night, scoring two goals late in the period to tie the game at 4-4 and bring us some overtime action. In the extra period, the back-and-forth action was ended when a Holy Cross rush ended with the Crusaders' Erik Vos putting home a rebound to give Holy Cross the 5-4 comeback victory.

December 8, 2012 1 2 3 Final
PENN STATE 0 0 1 1
Holy Cross 1 1 2 4
PSU Goals: Jensen (2);
Penn State SOG: 33
Holy Cross SOG: 32

Summary: While Friday's game was a close tilt with few penalties (4 minors in total), Saturday's game was all about the parade to the penalty box. Unfortunately for the Nittany Lions, it appeared that the refs had decided this would be a Blue and White dominated parade. In contrast to the 4 penalties in 62 minutes of play Friday night, Penn State was called for 6 penalties in the first 20 minutes. Penn State spent 6:46 of the final 7 minutes of the first period on the penalty kill, including 3 separate times with a two-man advantage. Even the usually-calm Coach Gadowsky was called for a penalty, obviously upset at the 10-1 penalty calls (by the end of the 2nd period) in favor of Holy Cross. Penalties happen, and they happen regularly. This was absurd.

As much as I wish there were more to discuss with this game, this was the story. That's not to blame the refs for the loss, but anytime you spend major chunks of time shorthanded, it completely throws off the rhythm of the entire team. Holy Cross scored early in the first period, and the penalty-filled second half of the period made it next to impossible for Penn State to generate any momentum. Holy Cross would add two power play goals before Nate Jensen got Penn State on the board late in the 3rd period. But it was too little, too late, as the Crusaders would add a late empty net goal to complete the weekend sweep with a 4-1 victory.

Season Record: 6-7-0 (5-6-0 NCAA D1)

Next Opponents: The Nittany Lions look to rebound with two games spread out this week. The first is tonight, as the boys head to New York to take on D3 Fredonia State (5-7-0). This was the game that was cancelled in November thanks to Hurricane Sandy. Penn State took down Fredonia last season at the Greenberg, with a wild 5-4 comeback win. Fredonia is struggling quite a bit this season, so this could be a good bounce-back game for Penn State.

On Saturday, Penn State welcomes Robert Morris (6-4-2) to the Greenberg. Robert Morris has had a solid season, if a couple hiccups along the way. The Colonials are unbeaten in their last four games (2-0-2), garnering a win and a tie against Holy Cross and Ohio State with their past two weekends. PSU and RMU do have some history, as the Icers pulled off an impressive 3-2 upset over RMU in 2005, only to be on the wrong side of a 6-0 blowout the next season.

NCAA Women:

December 7, 2012 1 2 3 Final
PENN STATE 0 1 0 1
St. Lawrence 0 1 2 3
PSU Goals: Holdcroft (5)
Penn State SOG: 16
St. Lawrence SOG: 48

Summary: As has been the trend for much of the season, the women's team found themselves in a battle against a much more seasoned team. This time, it was the St. Lawrence Skating Saints - a team who made the 8-team playoffs last season. And like many games this season, the Nittany Lions made their opponent earn their victory. After a scoreless first period, the two teams would trade goals in the second period, with Jill Holdcroft picking up her fifth goal of the season with 29 seconds left in the period. St. Lawrence would take the lead 7:29 into the 3rd period, and although Penn State would continue to fight and get chances, the Nittany Lions would fall just short. An empty-net goal would give SLU the 3-1 victory.

Freshman goalie Celine Whitlinger earned the start after her impressive 3rd period against Mercyhurst, and she was brilliant yet again (a phrase that can really be said about any one of the three goaltenders on this team). Her 45 saves on 47 shots kept Penn State in the game until the end. For her efforts, Celine garnered the CHA Rookie of the Week honors.

December 8, 2012 1 2 3 Final
PENN STATE 1 0 1 2
St. Lawrence 1 1 2 4
PSU Goals: Desorcie (4), Hoenshell (5)
Penn State SOG: 17
St. Lawrence SOG: 58

Summary: With Nicole Paniccia back in net, the ladies looked to earn a split against the talented SLU squad. For the second straight weekend, Jess Desorcie opened the Saturday game scoring with a first period goal, giving PSU the early 1-0 lead. But SLU responded, scoring just 90 seconds later, and then adding the next two goals, going up 3-1 midway through the 3rd period. Hannah Hoenshell's 5th goal of the season made it a 3-2 game with 8 minutes left. Penn State would get a few more chances, but a late powerplay goal for SLU would give the Saints the 4-2 victory and the weekend sweep. Paniccia's 54/58 save performance was once again stellar, and the goals from Desorcie and Hoenshell (and Holdcroft's Friday night marker) are great evidence of a deepening offensive scoring depth.

Season Record: 5-12-1 Overall, 1-8-1 CHA

Next Opponent: The ladies are off for the remainder of 2012, picking up again in early January. Their first opponents of the new year are D3 Chatham University Cougars (1-7-0), who concluded their semester with a 5-0 win over ACHA D2 Cal U (PA). So...yeah. A well-rested and win-hungry Nittany Lions squad will certainly be looking for wins come 2013.

ACHA round-up: The Ice Lions looked to get back to their winning ways as they welcomed both D2 Delaware (Friday) and Temple (Saturday) to the Greenberg. With a lack of stats, I will simply let you know that the boys came away with two big wins - beating both UDel and Temple by three goal margins (5-2 and 4-1, respectively). The Ice Lions finish the semester on the road, heading to face PSU-Berks on Friday. This is the second meeting for the two teams this season, as the Ice Lions rolled to an 8-3 victory back in September. On Saturday, the Ice Lions head to Rowan (Sandy make-up game), in what will certainly be a big game in both the MACHA North standings and in the D2 Southeast rankings.

Thanks to a late addition, the D2 ladies had an opportunity to play a real team before the end of the semester. This time, it was Slippery Rock who made the trip to Altoona, giving Penn State their first home game of the season. At this point, I don't think the ladies care who or where they're playing - they're just in full seek-and-destroy mode right now. The full 8-0 dominating win over SRU was led by 4-goal scoring outputs by Devon Fisk and Mandy Mortach. Now that they're really starting to roll, they hit the next step of their stardom - the awkward post-game interview! (H/T to TYTBlog, who went to watch the game, only to end up working to clock.) Penn State's next victim opponent comes on January 13th, in the form of Navy. Little doubt the ladies will be ready for that game.

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