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Ice Hockey Recap: Conference Foes, Both Current and Soon-To-Be

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The two hockey teams were on the road this weekend. The ladies were in New York taking on CHA opponent Syracuse, while the men were in East Lansing taking on next season's conference foe, Michigan State.

As the two teams begin to make the turn for the final stretch of the season, certain players are beginning to rise to the top of their respective teams. For the men, David Glen and Casey Bailey have been the main attractions thus far, but Max Gardiner has quietly turned into an amazing set-up man, leading the team in assists and picking up more this weekend. And the ACHA-to-NCAA transition players are all starting to find their comfort level this season - Olczyk, Holstrom, Kirchhevel, and Jensen have all been playing much better over the past few weeks.

For the women, Shannon Yoxheimer has been the standout forward, but Jill Holdcroft and Hannah Hoenshell have developed into solid scoring threats. Like the men, ACHA-to-NCAA transition players Taylor Gross and Jess Desorcie continue to find their names on the scoresheets. And with the style of play from this team, I'd be horribly remiss if the unsung defensive players didn't get some love: Madison Smiddy and Jordin Pardoski have been offensive threats, while Paige Jahnke, Jeanette Bateman, Sarah Wilkie, and assistant captain Lindsay Reihl have all put their well-being on the line, blocking shots on a regular basis.

Oh, and the goalies are great for both teams. The women's team has shown that any of their three can start and keep the team in a position to win, and the Matt Skoff and PJ Musico have both shown signs of brilliance for the men. (My apologies to Matt Madrazo, who has become the safety net 3rd goalie.) Oh, and then there's Eamon McAdam, who is one of the top goalie prospects in North America, coming to Penn State next season, and has recently earned his fair share of airtime with this sweet save in the Top Prospects game the other night.

USHL Highlight - Eamon McAdam save at USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game (via USHLinteractive)

Men's NCAA D1:

January 25, 2013 1 2 3 Final
PENN STATE 0 3 0 3
Michigan State 1 2 2 5
PSU Goals: Olczyk (3); Holstrom (6); Glen (12)
Penn State SOG: 30
Michigan State SOG: 32

Summary: If the Nittany Lions were looking to end their poor starts to games not played on Saturday, they would have to look to another week. Penn State would once again find themselves in a first period hole, with MSU taking the 1-0 lead midway through the period. A Spartan goal seven minutes in the second period made it 2-0 before Penn State started to get the offense going. Just 90 seconds later, captain Tommy Olczyk got the Nittany Lions on the board with a shorthanded goal. Later in the period, the two teams combined for 3 goals in a span of 1:34. Taylor Holstrom tied the game, Michigan State would counter, and David Glen would re-tie the game just 14 seconds after that. The two teams traded opportunities, but it was a 5-minute major to Connor Varley with less than 8 minutes left in the game that was ultimately the difference. The Spartans would score once on the extended power play, and add an empty net goal to take the first game, 5-3.

January 26, 2013 1 2 3 Final
PENN STATE 0 1 2 3
Michigan State 2 0 0 2
PSU Goals: Yanis (3); Bailey (12); Holstrom (7)
Penn State SOG: 50
Michigan State SOG: 33

Summary: In what is seemingly becoming a disturbing trend for this team, the Nittany Lions let their opponent jump out to an early lead. Just like Friday night's game, it was 2-0 Michigan State before Penn State got the offensive gears going. A usually-solid Matt Skoff looked shaky in net in the first period, letting two stoppable shots (especially after seeing the saves he has made this season) into the net in the first 6:21 of the game. Penn State started to settle things down, eventually outshooting MSU 19-14 in the first period. A late first period penalty against MSU, turned into an early 2nd period powerplay goal for PSU, with Mark Yanis putting home a Casey Bailey rebound to cut the lead to 2-1. That would remain the score until early in the 3rd period, when Bailey getting a goal of his own and tying the game at 2-2. With four minutes left, Taylor Holstrom continued his current hot-streak, scoring his third goal in as many games, giving Penn State a late 3-2 lead. The Nittany Lion defense buckled down from there, and combined with a late Spartan penalty, Penn State skated to the 3-2 victory and a well-earned weekend split with Michigan State. Max Gardiner continued his solid play, adding three assists, giving him a team-high 16 on the season.

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

Next Opponents: It's the return of an old rival next weekend, as Penn State will take on the Ohio Bobcats of the ACHA. The Bobcats will most certainly be looking for a huge upset win, while much of the Penn State squad will likely be wondering why they're playing in yet another exhibition weekend. Friday's game will be at the GIANT Center in Hershey, PA (if you're in the area and looking for something to do next Friday night). The two teams are in State College the next night, in what might actually be the final game between these two long and storied ACHA programs.

Women's NCAA D1:

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

Summary: Oh, this one hurts. Syracuse would score 6:49 into the first period, looking to replicate their wins over Penn State from earlier in the season. But the Nicole Paniccia and the Nittany Lion defense would keep the Orange off of the scoreboard for the remainder of the game. Unfortunately for Penn State, they could never really get their own offense going, struggling to get many shots on net to potentially tie the game up. Penn State would get some late pressure going with the extra attacker on, but the efforts would fall short, giving Syracuse a close 1-0 victory.

January 12, 2013 1 2 3 Final
PENN STATE 0 0 1 1
Syracuse 3 0 1 4
PSU Goals: Holdcroft (8)
Penn State SOG: 15
Syracuse SOG: 55

Summary: There is a serious trend happening with this women's team. The Friday night game tends to be a more defensive-shell game for the Nittany Lions, trying to withstand the opposing offense while not trying to attack much of their own. During the Saturday games, the ladies get tired of letting their opponent come to them, and they eventually just start to attack. While the shots may not tell the same story, the offense felt much more active in this game versus the Friday night game. After a three goal first period for the Orange, Penn State started to take it to Syracuse. Jill Holdcroft would finally break the scoreless drought against Syracuse this season, scoring her 8th goal of the season early in the 3rd period. Outside of the late empty net goal for the Orange, Penn State definitely held their own and at times took it to the more experienced Syracuse team. Although wins would certainly be nice, the ladies had a very impressive showing on the road this weekend.

Season Record: 7-16-1 Overall, 1-10-1 CHA

Next Opponent: It's a busy week for the women's team next week, as they'll have three home games over the week. The action starts on Tuesday, with a home game against Princeton. The Tigers are in the midst of their own struggles currently, having lost 6 of their last 7 games. After that, the ladies welcome CHA-foe Mercyhurst to State College. The 6th-ranked Lakers will most certainly be looking to replicate their 5-0 and 7-1 dominance from last semester.

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