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Penn State Women’s Hockey Bounced From CHA Tournament In Loss To Mercyhurst

Alma mater Women's Hockey

Penn State women’s hockey (18-9-5, 8-3-3 CHA) squared off against Mercyhurst (20-11-2, 10-6-0 CHA) in the CHA Tournament semifinal round on Friday in Syracuse, New York.

Although the contest was close and competitive, the Nittany Lions couldn’t find the edge. They fell 4-2 to Mercyhurst, likely ending their season.

How It Happened

Penn State skated out in its home whites, while the Mercyhurst wore its green away threads. Penn State stuck with Josie Bothun in the net, while Mercyhurst opted for Ena Nystrøm, who has split playing time with Jenna Silvonen this season. And, of course, the dynamic duo of Natalie Heising and Kiara Zanon were present on the top line.

The first period started with plenty of offense and a pair of blocked shots on both teams. However, it was Mercyhurst that broke the ice first with an unassisted goal off the skate of Jordan Mortlock at 7:27 in the first period. The play was further reviewed, but the Lakers kept the lead.

Penn State continued to play hard and put shots on goal. Izzy Heminger had a very good chance shortly after Mortlock’s goal, with a shot that hit the pipe of Nystrøm’s goal.

The first period ended with a 1-0 Mercyhurst lead. The Nittany Lions heavily outshot the Lakers 24-10, but Mercyhurst blocked six to stay ahead.

Penn State had an explosive start to the second period. After chances in front of the net, Amy Dobson put the rebound past the net to tie the game up just over a minute into the period in what could be her last game as a Nittany Lion.

Still, Penn State wanted more. Riding the momentum, Olivia Wallin scored on Nystrøm to take Penn State’s first lead of the game, 2-1, at 4:12 in the second period. It was quite the turnaround for the Nittany Lions.

Despite Penn State’s momentum, Mercyhurst tied the game at 19:20 with a Mary Kromer goal. The Lakers had been applying pressure, and finally got the break they needed. It was far and away a very important period.

The period ended with a 2-2 tie, though Penn State heavily dominated Mercyhurst with way more shots on goal, as it has typically done so throughout the season. However, Mercyhurst remained strong defensively by stopping pucks and blocking shots.

The third period started off with plenty of back and forth play. Both teams got quality chances, though many of Penn State’s shots were wide.

At 5:15 in the third period, Mercyhurst took the lead back with Jordan Mortlock’s second goal of the afternoon. It was 3-2 Lakers.

Penn State gained a crucial power-play chance after the goal with over 10 minutes still remaining in the third period, as Mary Kromer was sent to the penalty box for hooking. However, Penn State did not capitalize.

Penn State’s failure to make a play did not help much. At 9:35 in the third period, Sara Boucher grabbed an insurance goal for the Lakers to make it 4-2. Any insurance goal is bad news, particularly in a do-or-die playoff game.

With the clock ticking and a few minutes remaining, the desperation on Penn State’s side became clear as Josie Bothun was pulled in favor of an extra skater. Penn State took shot after shot, but it wouldn’t be enough. The final horn sounded at the end of an exciting game — a 4-2 win for Mercyhurst.

Takeaways

  • Penn State simply wasn’t good enough today. Penn State heavily outshot Mercyhurst 82-30, and it’s difficult to envision how there weren’t more than two goals scored in such an important game.
  • Execution needed to be better on power play chances. Penn State’s lone power play came after it was down by one goal late in the third period, so executing on that could have helped things significantly.
  • Blocked shots killed Penn State. Mercyhurst blocked a whopping 22 shots, while Penn State stopped just five.
  • For the fifth straight year, Penn State failed to reach the CHA Tournament’s title match. Getting into the tournament is one thing, but failing to make it out of the semifinals is a poor trend to continue.

What’s Next?

It’s rather unlikely that Penn State makes the NCAA Tournament. Assuming that doesn’t happen, Penn State heads into the long offseason before hitting the ice again next fall.

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About the Author

Nolan Wick

Nolan is a sophomore majoring in journalism. From the Maryland side of the D.C. suburbs, Nolan likes using Old Bay and is a diehard Washington sports fan, which can be both difficult and rewarding. If you want to debate anything about sports with him, follow him on Instagram @_nolanwick or on Twitter @nolan_wick.

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