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Previewing Penn State Women’s Hockey’s 2022-2023 Season

After an 18-10-5 record and a CHA Tournament semifinals loss last season, No. 14 Penn State women’s hockey begins its upcoming season this Thursday, September 22. 

The Nittany Lions are now without Natalie Heising, the program’s all-time leading scorer in goals and points. Heising’s departure is a significant loss, but head coach Jeff Kampersal’s team is very capable of filling her shoes. 

Penn State begins its season ranked for the second consecutive season, and expectations are high.

Schedule

Penn State has a difficult schedule to open up the season. Its first series is at home on Thursday and Friday against No. 3 Wisconsin, which will be a challenge. 

The tough schedule continues once the Nittany Lions are through with the Badgers. Penn State has a home matchup against No. 5 Minnesota-Duluth on September 30, followed by its first road game against unranked St. Lawrence on October 1. 

After Penn State’s first away game, the Nittany Lions will face No. 6 Colgate at home on October 7 and 8. Still, one more series against a currently ranked opponent awaits the Nittany Lions before a hiatus from ranked action, as they play at No. 15 Boston College on October 14 and 15. 

Although the current preseason rankings are unlikely to stay the same, there’s no doubt the Nittany Lions are in for quite the adventure to open the season. However, Kampersal and his team are eager to play other ranked teams. 

“We’re excited for the opportunities…we want to make our non-conference schedule as competitive as possible and go toe-to-toe with those programs,” Kampersal said. 

Following Boston College, Penn State has a home series on October 23 and 24 against Franklin Pierce before its CHA schedule gets underway. The Nittany Lions start their CHA schedule against Lindenwood and Mercyhurst, the latter of which received five votes to be ranked. 

Only three other series against non-CHA opponents are scheduled. The Nittany Lions face Brown, No. 7 Yale, and LIU this season. Penn State is also scheduled to face Minnesota and either Boston University or Yale in a Thanksgiving-week tournament in Las Vegas. 

Penn State’s regular season concludes with a series at RIT on February 17 and 18.

Roster

The most obvious aspect about the roster is Natalie Heising’s absence. However, there’s still plenty of talent.

Kiara Zanon, Rene Gangarosa, and Mallory Uihlein will serve as Penn State’s co-captains this season. Gangarosa is the only returning co-captain, as Heising and Anna Promersberger graduated. 

Zanon could be Penn State’s most valuable skater this season. The junior from Fairport, New York, already has a Rookie of the Year award and CHA Player of the Year nod under her belt. Last season, Zanon led the CHA with 26 assists, while her 39 points tied for second in the conference, finishing behind Heising. 

Zanon should anchor an already deep forwards unit along with Julie Gough and Olivia Wallin. Wallin will be another player to watch, as she led all Division I freshmen in goals in the 2020-21 season. 

Meanwhile, Penn State’s defense is another solid unit. Mallory Uihlein will be the heartbeat of Penn State’s defense, with the co-captain finishing third in team points with 19 last season. In addition to Uihlein, fellow co-captain Rene Gangarosa, as well as Karley Garcia, will be other important pieces in this group. 

Josie Bothun returns as the starting goaltender, which is very good news for the Nittany Lions. The Minnesota native put up a 1.69 goals against average, which was first in the conference. Additionally, Bothun’s .921 save percentage was third-best in the CHA last season.

There are six incoming freshmen on this season’s team. Among them is forward Tessa Janecke, who was voted the CHA Preseason Rookie of the Year. If Janecke lives up to that hype, Penn State could be a Frozen Four contender.

Prediction

Penn State has a tough schedule, and its opening slate in particular will be a huge test for this team. However, the Nittany Lions should earn the No. 2 seed for the CHA Tournament at the bare minimum. This is a talented team that has the potential to be very good this season and should generally perform well.

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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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