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No. 12 Penn State Women’s Hockey Sweeps Mercyhurst

No. 12 Penn State women’s hockey (18-8-2) took on its conference rival, Mercyhurst (13-12-1), this weekend in a two-game road trip and swept the Lakers to improve its conference record to 8-1-1.

The Nittany Lions started the matchup strong on Sunday night, putting the Lakers away 5-2 with a late surge of goals by veterans Julie Gough, Olivia Wallin, and Kiara Zanon. The second game was a quieter affair, maintaining a 0-0 score into the third period.

Both teams traded blows and the score was 2-1 Mercyhurst with a minute to go, but Tessa Janecke scored a last-minute goal to send the game to overtime. She then finished the job with another goal to win it 3-2 in OT.

Game One

Missing her first game after 79 consecutive starts last week against RIT, goalie Josie Bothun returned to the cage for the Nittany Lions alongside Mya Vaslet, Kiara Zanon, and Alyssa Machado at forward, and Lyndie Lobdell and Karley Garcia on defense.

Early into the game, the Nittany Lions conceded a power play opportunity to their opponents as Leah Stecker served a tripping minor penalty. The Lakers capitalized and scored the ice-breaker goal when Vanessa Upson beat Bothun blocker-high from the slot, putting Mercyhurst up 1-0.

The Nittany Lions roared back in the final minutes of the first period, as they found themselves on a 5-3 advantage after a pair of Lakers were sent to the box for tripping and body-checking. Penn State spread the ice and went tape to tape across the crease where Julie Gough would tap in the 1-1 goal.

Penn State carried its momentum through the intermission into the second period, pressuring its opponents with sustained offensive possession. In the midst of the onslaught, Zanon settled a loose puck in prime scoring ice and fired a shot that hit the twine before goalie Ena Nystrøm could react. The Nittany Lions would ride their 2-1 lead to the end of the period.

In the third period, Gough would strike again, completing her brace for the game and extending Penn State’s lead to 3-1.

Mercyhurst didn’t lay down, however, and eager to reenter the contest, pushed its forecheck further up the ice to sniff for a comeback goal. Its efforts were rewarded, as the Lakers disrupted Penn State’s clearance attempt and delivered the biscuit to a lone Thea Johansson in the slot. She had time to shake Bothun out of position and finished the puck in close for a 3-2 score.

The Nittany Lions stayed the course though and were able to tack on an insurance goal when Olivia Wallin walked her defender on a 1-on-1 chance, slickly tucking the puck past Nystrøm for the 4-2 goal.

Mercyhurst pulled its net-minder late in the third period to try and get a late goal, but Zanon scored on the empty net to end the game 5-2 for the Nittany Lions.

Game Two

Penn State returned Bothun to the net for game two, as well as an identical forwards corps. This time, Jeff Kampersal also opted for Rene Gangarosa and Mallory Uihlein as the top defensive pairing.

The Nittany Lions continued their dominance from the onset of the rematch, sending 14 pucks on net to Mercyhurst’s two shots in the first period. The scoreboard, however, remained as it started as fresh goaltender Jada Brenon held firm in net for the Lakers.

The second period swayed back in favor of the home team, as Mercyhurst seemed to have the Penn State offense figured out and went to work dissecting its defense. Although the Nittany Lions maintained their dominating face-off presence, winning 14 of 20 draws, the scrappy Lakers were able to win possession on loose pucks and outshot the blue and white 12 to seven in the second frame. Once more, no goals were scored, as both goalies had racked up impressive save totals to this point.

In the third period, the floodgates finally opened. While Courtney Correia was serving a slashing penalty for the Nittany Lions, Zanon found space on the left side of the ice and sped by her defender, sniping the top right of the net for a shorthanded, go-ahead goal.

Mercyhurst would answer quickly, though, as it crashed the net two minutes later. Amid the chaos, Liliane Perreault stuffed the puck through the pile and knotted the game up 1-1.

As the game clock bled down, chippy play erupted when both teams received slashing penalties after an altercation. The 4-on-4 period helped the sides cool off, and the game returned to even strength.

The tie score wouldn’t hold late in the period, as with five minutes to go, Megan McKay scored an unassisted goal to put Mercyhurst up 2-1.

With two minutes left in the period, Penn State pulled Bothun and began its 6-on-5 assault on the Lakers in a final attempt to tie the game. After a barrage of shots from Izzy Heminger, Eleri MacKay, and Gangarosa, Tessa Janecke teed up from the left point and scored from deep to send the game to overtime at 2-2.

After a tense regulation, Penn State wasted no time in finishing the game, stepping on the gas and earning a 2-on-1 chance early in sudden death. With the puck on her stick, Janecke faked the pass to Heminger and used the backhand to beat Brenon for the game-winning goal.

What’s Next

Penn State returns home to play Lindenwood in a two-game series this weekend. The first matchup is set for 6 p.m. this Friday, January 27.

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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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