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No. 10 Penn State Women’s Hockey Tops Lindenwood 4-1 In Opening Game Of CHA Tournament Semifinal

No. 10 Penn State women’s hockey (25-8-2) began its postseason with a 4-1 win over four-seeded Lindenwood (5-26-0) in the College Hockey America semifinals.

After a tense and scoreless first period, Penn State opened the floodgates and scored three goals in quick succession midway through the second period. Although the Nittany Lions conceded a goal as the second frame expired, Eleri MacKay earned it back at the top of the third period. From there, it was smooth sailing and Penn State walked away with the win.

How It Happened

The Nittany Lions, fresh off their sweep of RIT, decided to field the familiar veteran forwards Kiara Zanon, Courtney Correia, and Olivia Wallin, and Izzy Heminger and Kendall Butze at defense. Josie Bothun started in the cage for Penn State, while Julia Maguire stood between the pipes for Lindenwood.

From the opening face-off, both teams looked cautious to overextend their offense and took short shifts, possibly to keep their energy throughout the series. There were six total shots eight minutes into regulation as the Nittany Lions aimed to possess the puck rather than shoot.

The Nittany Lions went on the power play with 12:07 to go in the first after Madilynn Hickey was caught hooking. Tessa Janecke almost buried the puck from deep, but the shot rang off the iron and the game remained level. Penn State generated some pressure, but its advantage expired and the teams returned to even strength.

Following their penalty kill, Lindenwood kept the lion’s share of the puck, stifling the majority of Penn State’s zone entries and keeping the puck in their attacking third for the rest of the first period.

The frustrated Nittany Lions took an interference penalty behind their net and went on the kill with 1:01 to go in the first. Eleri MacKay found space to lug the puck into the slot and split her defender, but her shot found the crossbar and stayed out. The period ended 0-0.

With a sheet of fresh ice and an intermission to regroup, the sides returned to play with Lindenwood still on the power play. The Nittany Lions controlled possession after the face-off and easily finished the penalty kill.

Penn State ground its opponents down throughout the top of the second period, forcing icings and keeping Lindenwood defenders working well past their shifts. Eventually, the Nittany Lions’ sustained offense broke through the defensive pairing as Janecke and Julie Gough streaked toward the cage. Gough teed up a one-timer from close and Maguire stood no chance as the Blue and White went up 1-0.

Carrying their momentum forward, the Nittany Lions set up their offense once more. After a desperation icing by Lindenwood, Correia won the offensive face-off straight to Olivia Wallin who netted the 2-0 goal on a quick shot just a minute and a half later.

The floodgates now open, Penn State’s offense continued its dominant run, intercepting its opponents’ clearance pass. Mya Vaslet walked her defender all the way to the crease and steered the puck around Maguire to put the Nittany Lions up 3-0. Lindenwood opted to switch goaltenders for the contest, sending out senior Natalie Ferenc to stop the bleeding.

The Nittany Lions continued to press Lindenwood through the second period, but Ferenc came up big on multiple tough stands, occasionally getting help from the post. With 2:07 to go in the frame, a scrum developed in front of Bothun. Unable to track the puck through the pile, Olivia Grabianowski beat her blocker high and cut the Penn State lead to 3-1. The period expired quietly afterward.

Period three kicked off quickly, as Correia won the center ice drawback to Heminger, who found MacKay open on the wing. MacKay sped to the crease and chipped the puck up and over Ferenc on her way by to put the Nittany Lions up 4-1 at 1:05 into the third period. This score marked the senior’s 90th career point.

With 12:26 to go, a massive pile crashed the Nittany Lion crease. The puck was lost in the chaos, and Bothun lost her glove. After several agonizing seconds with lots of extracurricular activities, Penn State’s defense unselfishly blocked all incoming shots and the referees blew the play dead to allow Bothun to retrieve her equipment.

After this scuffle, the game was never in doubt. The Nittany Lions held their opponents to just seven shots in total in the third period and ran their third and fourth lines for the remainder of the contest. Holding on to their lead, the final buzzer sounded 4-1 in favor of Penn State.

Takeaways:

  • The Nittany Lions seemed to play down to Lindenwood in the first period, ping-ponging the puck with their opponent instead of attempting to install an offense. Once they were settled in the second and third frames, they were back to their dominant, goalscoring ways.
  • Short shifts and smart play seemed to be the focus of head coach Jeff Kampersal, who knew the squad was deep enough to compete with Lindenwood no matter the group of skaters on the ice.
  • When it rains, it pours. The Nittany Lions decided to turn on the afterburners following Gough’s opening score and carried their momentum to two more in three minutes, showing just how much the team can tilt the ice with a lead.

What’s Next?

Penn State will be back in Pegula Ice Arena to play the next leg of its best-of-three series against Lindenwood Saturday, February 25. The opening puck drop is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.

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About the Author

Jack Scott

Jack is a junior industrial engineering major 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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