PSU Women’s Ice Hockey Club: The Journey
Penn State Women’s Ice Hockey Club is celebrating a successful second place finish at Nationals last Sunday in Ashburn, Virginia, but getting there was no routine skate around the rink.
Last year, Penn State wasn’t sure if it could accommodate the women’s club team with ice time and locker room space, according to sophomore Captain Mary Kate Tonetti. But when PSU Club Sports said that they had room for a team, Tonetti started assembling an all-student executive board of Katie Vaughan, vice president, and Carly Szyszko, treasurer, to help form a squad.
Amidst all the paperwork, the three started contacting old hockey friends and set up a booth at the involvement fair to try and build a team.
The first club meeting as a team was “a little crazy, because no one was really sure of anything,” said Tonetti.
“We didn’t even have a coach until our third practice!” said freshman Nina Elia.
Eventually, the team decided on Coach Patrick Fung for his experience, helpfulness, caring personality, and passion.
With Fung overseeing things, the team skated to the end of the season with a 6-2-1 record in the American Collegiate Hockey Association league, good enough to qualify for nationals. The team even made time for a television interview, which you can watch here.
“I thought it was going to be fun-and-games hockey, nothing serious, but it turned out we were in the national championships,” said Elia.
Penn State was ranked eighth out of eight teams before nationals, but after the preliminaries and semifinals, they were undefeated. The roster, consisting of only 14 girls, played five games in four days. On the day when they had two games, the team slept on hockey bags and benches to try and rest up in the short five hour break between games.
One of the most exciting moments for Tonetti and Elia was in the semifinal game against Wisconsin-Stout when Elia scored the game winning goal in double overtime, her first of the season.
“We all love the game so much, but more importantly, we are so close to each other both on and off the ice,” said Tonetti.
Even though the games are finished, the season is not quite over yet, according to Tonetti. She said that the team will still have one or two more practices before the summer and she is starting to fill out paperwork, look at different leagues, and schedule for next year.
For more information on Women’s Ice Hockey Club and an overview of their National Tournament, check out their website here.