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Penn State Women’s Hockey Outlasts Mercyhurst 2-1 In Overtime, Clinches CHA Championship

Penn State women’s hockey (27-8-2) survived a 2-1 overtime thriller against Mercyhurst (21-15-2) Saturday afternoon to take home the CHA conference championship for the first time in program history.

Julie Gough was the difference maker for the Nittany Lions and registered an assist and overtime goal to clinch the historic trophy.

How It Happened

Nittany Lion head coach Jeff Kampersal gave junior Josie Bothun the start in net for Penn State, while the Lakers opted for Ena Nystrøm between the pipes.

Offensive zone face-off wins created a lot of the shot opportunities Penn State had in the first period as quality scoring chances were at a premium for both teams early on.

Defense on both sides was stifling, resulting in a combined 13 shots taken in the first period. Penn State struggled to set up an offense in the zone throughout the first period, and its best chance came late in the period when it fired off a barrage of shots toward Nystrøm.

Penn State took only six shots in the first period, while Mercyhurst took seven.

Both goalies remained perfect through the first period and the teams skated into the second period still knotted at nil.

Penn State’s penalty kill was called to action just 30 seconds into the second period after too many players were on the ice. Mercyhurst managed just three shots during the advantage.

Penn State broke through and took the lead just past the four-minute mark in the second period. Eleri MacKay collected a pass from Julie Gough right in front of the crease and beat Nystrøm to the top corner.

The Nittany Lions followed the goal with a strong few minutes of offensive pressure, but after a Nittany Lion icing, Mercyhurst took control of an offensive zone face-off. The Lakers put the puck in the back of the net, tying the game at 1-1 with eight minutes left in the second period.

Penn State continued to put pressure on Nystrøm for the remainder of the period but was unable to find the back of the net. Penn State led the Lakers in shots 16-5 during the second period.

Both teams showed no signs of fatigue as the puck dropped in the third period, and the teams traded chances for much of the first half of the third period.

As the period wore on, neither team established a meaningful presence in the offensive zone despite the large amounts of shooting chances both defenses were giving up.

Mercyhurst found its footing late in the period, but Bothun strung together three saves before the Nittany Lions cleared the puck and eased the pressure on the Nittany Lion netminder.

Despite a late Penn State rally with less than a minute left, the buzzer sounded and the game headed to overtime.

The game would be decided by full-strength overtime action until a game-winner was scored. After a prolonged offensive stint from the Nittany Lions, Mercyhurst called a timeout with just over five minutes in the first overtime period.

On the other side of the timeout, Gough gained the puck in the corner of the offensive zone and skated into the slot before slinging a wrister to Nystrøm’s high side which found the back of the net and won the CHA Championship for the Nittany Lions 2-1.

Takeaways:

  • Face-off wins proved to be a massive advantage for Penn State as many shooting chances were developed from offensive zone wins.
  • Penn State’s defense faced one of the toughest tests it has had all season, and it stepped up in a big way. Bothun made 18 saves during the historic win.
  • The momentum from such a big win will almost certainly carry over into next weekend when the Nittany Lions begin NCAA Tournament play.

What’s Next?

With their conference championship, the Nittany Lions will receive an automatic bid into the 2023 NCAA Women’s Hockey Tournament. The tournament is slated to begin on Friday, March 10, and selection is scheduled for Sunday, March 5.

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About the Author

CJ Doebler

CJ is a junior double majoring in broadcast journalism and finance. He is from Northumberland, Pa, just east of State College. CJ is an avid Pittsburgh sports fan, but chooses to ignore the Pirates' existence. For the occasional random retweet and/or bad take, follow @CDoebler on Twitter. All complaints can be sent to [email protected].

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