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Penn State Women’s Hockey Cementing Postseason Fate

As Penn State women’s hockey gears up for what is arguably its most important series of the 2023-24 season, the Nittany Lions have the opportunity to grab a stranglehold on the CHA. Atop the conference and leading rival Mercyhurst by two points, a sweep of the Lakers could expand the blue and white’s lead to six.

When Penn State traveled to Erie, Pennsylvania, for its first series against Mercyhurst, it left with a split series and two completely different performances across two games. The Nittany Lions were shutout 4-0 in game one and only managed 16 shots. Bouncing back in game two, Penn State won 3-1 and had an impressive 47-shot offensive outing. The Nittany Lions will need to rekindle that firepower in game two if they intend to remain in the driver’s seat of the conference.

Penn State seems primed to host the semifinals at Pegula Ice Arena regardless of its ability to hold off Mercyhurst but seeding still matters. If the CHA season ended after its second series against Lindenwood, Penn State would face off with the Lions, a team it swept 4-0 and outscored 28-6. However, if the Nittany Lions relinquished the No. 1 seed and fell to No. 2, they would play Robert Morris, whom Penn State won its first two games against but not nearly as convincingly.

The one seed in this tournament secures home ice for the final, and in the case of Penn State, advantage is key. After securing the No. 1 seed for the 2023 tournament, the Nittany Lions swept Lindenwood in the semifinals and defeated Mercyhurst on home ice to secure the championship. Having the support of the Penn State faithful and the Roar Zone continues to be of importance to head coach Jeff Kampersal and the Nittany Lions.

“I want to give a shoutout to the Roar Zone. They’re awesome,” Kampersal said. “I know they spent a lot of time making their signs and cheering us on.”

The implications of this series aren’t limited to the CHA and the ensuing conference tournament as the NCAA Tournament looms large. The Nittany Lions made the dance for the first time in 2023 and will once again aim to secure their spot.

In 2023, Penn State received an automatic bid because of its clinched CHA Tournament championship. Should the Nittany Lions face an early exit in the conference tournament, an at-large bid is still a possibility. In the 2023 tournament, six at-large bids were doled out.

At this critical juncture, Penn State must recognize what’s put this team in the position it is in and continue to build upon it. Tessa Janecke will need to continue her outstanding season, and the Nittany Lions’ offense must put in its two best efforts of the season. Should Josie Bothun remain sidelined, Katie DeSa and the Penn State defense will continue to weather the absence of its star goaltender. For Penn State to cement its status as the CHA’s best, it must be all hands on deck.

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About the Author

Dennis Wilkins

Dennis is a third-year journalism major from Brick, New Jersey. He has a love-hate relationship with every team he roots for, especially the New York Giants. When he's not watching Jack Hughes highlights, he can be found playing golf or listening to music. Direct all complaints to him via email ([email protected]) or on Twitter (@denniswilkins27).

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