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Ice Hockey Recap: Team USA and Union (College)

The men's team took on USA Hockey's Under-18 National Development Program team, while the ladies were on the road for a weekend set against Union College.

While the women's team was in Schenectady, N.Y. to take on Union College (which, as it turns out, is not a happy destination for Penn State ice hockey teams), the men were home to take on the USA National Development Program Under-18 team. These are players chosen by USA Hockey to be developed as the next round of NHL stars representing the United States. The team plays a range of NCAA D1, D3, and USHL teams, which helps refine the great amount of talent already found on the roster. Even though the stats will not count since it is considered an "exhibition series", the weekend would still be a good "test" set of games for the Nittany Lions.

The men's team also saw some lineup changes this weekend, as Mark Yanis returned to the ice for the first time since November 3rd, while Luke Juha and Nate Jensen were both sidelined with injuries. Add in no Brian Dolan, and the Nittany Lions rolled with just five defensemen and an extra (13th) forward.

Men's NCAA D1:

January 11, 2013 1 2 3 Final
US NDP U-18 1 1 0 2
PENN STATE 0 2 3 5
PSU Goals: Saad; Brooks (2); Lordo; Olczyk
US NDP U-18 SOG: 49
Penn State SOG: 30

Summary: The USA U-18 Development team is filled with quality players, the greater majority of whom are already committed to top college programs. And they showed their talent in the first period against Penn State on Friday night. USA U-18 blitzed the Nittany Lions with an 18-5 shot advantage in the first period. Thanks to Matt Skoff's efforts between the pipes, Penn State was only down 1-0 after that first period. After Tyler Motte gave USA the 1-0 lead in the first, it was J.T. Compher making it 2-0 USA early in the second. (Both Motte and Compher are U of Michigan commits.) But Penn State picked up their play in the 2nd period, and George Saad would get the first goal past the USA goaltender, cutting the deficit to 2-1. Later in the period, Kenny Brooks would put home a rebound on the powerplay, tying the game at 2-2.

In the 3rd period, Penn State would take advantage of another powerplay opportunity - success on the PP has been a struggle this season for the Nittany Lions. This time, Joe Lordo took advantage of the USA penalty, giving PSU its first lead of the game. Tommy Olczyk extended the lead to 4-2 later in the 3rd period with a sweet, top-shelf goal. Kenny Brooks capped the scoring with a late empty net goal, and Matt Skoff would finish with 47 saves, including the final 29 shots he faced, as Penn State rolled to a 5-2 victory.

January 12, 2013 1 2 3 Final
US NDP U-18 0 1 2 3
PENN STATE 0 0 0 0
PSU Goals:
US NDP U-18 SOG: 44
Penn State SOG: 25

Summary: If Penn State was looking to avoid allowing USA to dominate the first period, the referees in the game weren't going to give the Nittany Lions any help. Five penalties against Penn State in the first period gave USA the offensive advantage in the first period, taking a 19-4 lead in shots. But PJ Musico was up to the task, stopping all 19 shots and keeping the game scoreless after 20 minutes. Just like Friday night, the second period would start to see some more even play from the two teams, but USA would finally break through Musico, with Sean Malone giving team USA a 1-0 lead late in the 2nd period. The two teams would continue their even play early into the third period, but team USA would start to wear down on the less-than-100% Nittany Lions team. USA would extend their lead to 2-0 with under 4 minutes left, and an empty net goal would give USA the 3-0 win and a split of the weekend.

Season Record: 8-11-0 (6-10-0 NCAA D1) (2-2-0 in exhibition play, not included in the season record)

Next Opponents: Penn State has a bit of an odd week coming up in terms of scheduling. First, they host D3 Neumann University on Tuesday in a rematch from last year's game that was held on the Winter Classic outdoor rink in Philadelphia. Neumann won that game, 6-3. Philadelphia then acts as the link between the Tuesday game against Neumann University and the next game - Saturday's match-up against Vermont, which is being played at the Wells Fargo Center in Philly. The "Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff" will be an interesting game, as the Catamounts have had an up-and-down year, currently sitting with 6-11-4 record on the season.

Women's NCAA D1:

January 11, 2013 1 2 3 Final
PENN STATE 0 0 0 0
Union 0 0 1 0
PSU Goals:
Penn State SOG: 14
Union SOG: 49

Summary: The one good thing about having three very capable goalies is that you can start any one of them confidently for any game. Such was the case for Friday night's game against Union, as Coach Brandwyne tabbed Celine Whitlinger for the start. Union came out firing, putting up 33 shots in the first 2 periods, but Whitlinger was up to the task, stopping every shot and keeping it a 0-0 tie after two periods. The Penn State ladies started to pick up their offensive play in the 3rd period, but it would be Union finally getting a rebound past Whitlinger, giving Union a late 1-0 lead. Penn State would continue to push for a late equalizer, but would fall short, losing the first game 1-0. Whitlinger finished the game with a career-best 48 saves in the game. As well, Whitlinger's shutout streak lasted 140:12, stretching back to December 7th game against St. Lawrence.

January 12, 2013 1 2 3 Final
PENN STATE 0 0 1 1
Union 1 0 1 2
PSU Goals: Desorcie (5)
Penn State SOG: 26
Union SOG: 36

Summary: After being outshot 49-14 the previous night, the Nittany Lions looked to put on some more offensive pressure in the Saturday game against Union College. The ladies came out shooting, putting up 11 shots in the first period. But it was Union College's Jessica Kaminsky getting the only goal of the first period and giving Union the 1-0 lead. After a very even-but-scoreless second period, it was Union who got the jump early in third period, taking offensive control and eventually extending the lead to 2-0. Penn State would not go quietly, as Jess Desorcie picked up her 5th goal of the season, breaking Penn State's scoring drought and closing the game to 2-1. The teams would trade shots for the remainder of the game, but neither team would score. The Nittany Lions were left to return home with another tough, one-goal loss, losing the Saturday game, 2-1.

Season Record: 7-14-1 Overall, 1-8-1 CHA

Next Opponent: The ladies have next week off to prepare for another trip to New York and the start of the CHA portion of the Spring schedule. After the off week, Penn State will head to Syracuse to take on an Orange team that has had their ups and downs since the two teams last met in October. In those games at Penn State, Syracuse controlled both games, sweeping the weekend with 4-0 and 6-0 scores. The Orange currently sit at 10-10-1 on the season, 4-3-1 in the CHA.