|Jackie Saideh, Darby Kern and Nina Elia will wear letters for the Lady Ice Lions in 2015-16|
Senior forward Jackie Saideh has been voted by her teammates as the Lady Ice Lions' 2015-16 captain, head coach Patrick Fung announced Thursday. The newly-minted fifth captain in squad history will be helped by alternates Nina Elia and Darby Kern.
For Saideh, the distinction is yet more confirmation of her vital leadership role within the club. In 2014-15, the Massachusetts native served as both its vice president and as an alternate captain. Now, her move to the president's chair for the coming season is matched with a similar escalation in her on-ice status. The most recipient of the team's Billie S. Willits Player's Player award has been a timely goal scorer since moving to forward as a sophomore - her 13 tallies since then trail only Kern, Devon Fisk and Cara Mendelson within the roster. Saideh is also a model defensive forward who always seems to be in the right spot at the right time. Those two qualities make her one of the Penn State's most adaptable players, an asset almost anywhere in the lineup.
Elia, like Saideh, is a founding member of the Lady Ice Lions, entering as a freshman in the 2012-13 inaugural season. At the end of that year, she supplied what will long be regarded as one of the team's most memorable moments: a double-overtime putback goal that boosted Penn State over defending national champion Wisconsin-Stout in the ACHA National Tournament semifinals. With the exception of the fall semester of this past season, during which Elia studied abroad, she has appeared in every game possible during her career. She was seventh on the team in scoring during her last full season, although the Skaneateles, NY native is best known for defense and toughness, along for her net-front presence.
Little remains unsaid about the 2014-15 that Kern put together, her first year as a Lady Ice Lion after two with Penn State's NCAA team. Kern's 61 points - in just 25 games - were the best of anyone in the nation, while her 34 goals trailed leader Carrie Jickling (Liberty) by one. The end result, appropriately, was Penn State's second-ever first team All-American pick at the Division 1 level (and the first since 2001-02), as well as a nomination for the Zoe M. Harris Award as the ACHA's player of the year. The winger's recognition haul also included the ACHA's Harrow Player of the Month award for January, ECWHL first team all-conference honors, and naturally, the team's Maurice H. Stroemel Most Valuable Player award.
Ashton Schaffer, who is set to spend the fall semester with the Lady Ice Lions before her December graduation, will retain the C that she wore during the 2014-15 through her remaining time on campus. Holding the captaincy during a second season places her into a rare category, as only Rachel Rieker (1996-98), Ellen Zajko (1998-2001), Katie King (2002-04), Sara Chroman (2010-12) and Carly Szyszko (2012-14) have held down the position for more than one campaign in the combined history of the Lady Icers and Lady Ice Lions.
Saideh, Elia, Kern, Schaffer, an exciting freshman class and the rest of the team will open a second D1 and ECWHL season just over four months from now, over the weekend of October 9th through 11th. The drive for Penn State's first-ever women's hockey national championship will conclude with the ACHA National Tournament in Kalamazoo, MI from March 2nd through 6th, 2016.
Penn State Women's Ice Hockey Club: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram