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No. 12 Penn State Women’s Hockey Draws With RIT 2-2

No. 12 Penn State women’s hockey (16-8-2) finished its home series against conference rival RIT (2-20-1) with a 2-2 tie at Pegula Ice Arena.

Penn State conceded a goal early after a missed offensive opportunity went the other way. The Nittany Lions knotted the game up and took the lead off of two gritty goals by Tessa Janecke and Kiara Zanon. Then, the Tigers found space on a breakaway to tie the game before regulation ended, and the game ended in a tie after overtime was scoreless.

How It Happened

After their decisive victory the night prior, the Nittany Lions fielded an entirely new starting lineup featuring Kiara Zanon, Mya Vaslet, Alyssa Machado, Kendall Butze, and Izzy Heminger. Penn State also gave the nod to Katie DeSa her first career start in the cage. The Tigers returned Sarah Coe at goalie.

Through the first five minutes of the game, both sides generated quality looks on goal. Penn State was almost able to break the deadlock as Janecke and Julie Gough earned a two-on-one on a quick zone entry, but a Tiger poke check was able to break up the play.

The Nittany Lions came up short again with eight minutes to go in the first, as a shot by Mallory Uihlein ricocheted off both posts and out of the net. The Tigers took advantage of the confusion after the rebound and quickly advanced the puck to a threatening position. Jordyn Bear beat DeSa near-side to put RIT in the lead 1-0.

As the period wore on, it seemed RIT had Penn State’s offense figured out, denying high-chance areas of the offensive zone and locking off goal-scoring opportunities. While the Nittany Lions retained possession of the puck for the most part, the Tigers looked comfortable under pressure defending their lead.

In the final minute of the first period, the Nittany Lions were handed a two-minute-minor penalty as Heminger was caught boarding behind the net. The blue and white were able to fend off RIT’s advantage unit, and the period came to a close 1-0 Tigers.

Coming out of the tunnel on a mission, Penn State used the fresh ice to its advantage as it cleared the puck to a speeding Janecke, who played the give-and-go to Zanon and slotted the return pass home for the tying goal.

The middle of the period was spent mostly in the neutral zone, with both teams preferring a high forecheck and neither team advancing the play. When the puck did enter the zone, players would tie up, making meaningful chances hard to come by.

Toward the end of a gritty second period, Penn State started to assemble a threatening presence in its opponent’s end and maintained a long possession. With five minutes left on the clock, Janecke found Karley Garcia, who sent the puck to Zanon, who took a wide-open one-timer from the left circle to put the Nittany Lions in the lead 2-1.

After claiming the lead, Penn State kept its foot on the gas, as Eleri MacKay and Heminger combined for three quick blasts on Coe, but the Tiger goaltender stood firm and denied the Nittany Lions as the period ended.

To start the third period, RIT was assessed a minor penalty when Nicole Ness was caught roughing behind the play. Penn State’s power play unit looked strong, as it sent five pucks on net but was unable to cash in, leading to the advantage expiring.

Penn State almost extended its lead halfway through the third when Olivia Wallin and Courtney Correia created chaos at the goal mouth, but Coe stretched her pad just enough to keep the rebounding puck clear of the line.

With nine minutes to play, the Nittany Lions generated a chance in the low slot but couldn’t finish the play, allowing the Tigers to race up ice with the rebound. Amy Dobson delivered a tape-to-tape pass to Athena Vasdani that got chipped up and over DeSa’s left pad for the 2-2 goal.

After the tying goal, Penn State committed its offense to shot creation, sending the puck toward the cage at every opportunity. In the final nine minutes of regulation, 14 shots were sent toward Coe, who was able to thwart the barrage. Regulation closed with a 2-2 score.

Penn State looked dangerous in the 3-on-3 overtime format, holding the zone for seemingly the whole period. A tic-tac-toe play left Lobdell wide open on the doorstep and after she dangled the biscuit on the crease, created a wide-open goal she just couldn’t steer the puck into. Penn State couldn’t finish the attack and the game ended in a tie.

Takeaways

  • The Nittany Lions seemed stumped by their opponents to start the game and looked to be playing in a panic after conceding the opening goal. As the game wore on, the blue and white took more command of the game and dictated the pace of play, though it didn’t translate to the scoreboard.
  • Penn State looked more conditioned than the Tigers as the game went on, taking longer shifts and winning the race to pucks. The Nittany Lions also won the battles on the boards and often came out with a player advantage.
  • Twice this contest, the Nittany Lions allowed a near miss in the offensive zone to stall their forecheck, inviting their opponents up the ice. RIT was able to capitalize on both opportunities and put points on the board, crushing Penn State’s momentum.

What’s Next

The Nittany Lions will take the show on the road to play Mercyhurst next Sunday, January 22. Puck drop is scheduled for 5 p.m., and the game will be streamed on FloHockey.

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About the Author

Jack Scott

Jack is a sophomore aerospace engineer from Pittsburgh, PA. Sometimes, he enjoys the misunderstanding of his friends and family that Penn State Club Ski Racing may be a D1 sport and usually won't correct them. Jack is way too into Thundercat for his own good. Follow him on Twitter @joscottIV and Instagram @jackscott._iv

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