Right Where We Started: PSU Back to 11th in Second ACHA Ranking

Penn State gained one spot, to 11th, in the newest ACHA Women's Division 1 ranking, released late on Wednesday and including games played through Sunday, November 23rd.

Eleventh matches the Lady Ice Lions' preseason poll slotting, before PSU (now 9-3-0 overall) fell to 12th in the first in-season survey.

The minimal movement came in spite of a 5-1-0 record during the second ranking period, highlighted by a road win over Rhode Island - now the third-ranked team in the country - on November 9th. Penn State is the only team in the division outside of the top five to register a win against a top-five opponent this season. PSU's sole defeat in the time frame came the previous day, against URI.

Defending national champion Miami unanimously retained the top spot, receiving all 20 first-place votes from the D1 coaches, while Liberty stayed in second despite the Flames losing their last three games (once to URI on November 16th, then twice to Miami last Friday and Saturday). The ECWHL's URI was next, with unbeaten Michigan State and Massachusetts, another of PSU's conference foes, rounding out the top five.

The Lady Ice Lions have five more games scheduled against that collection of teams this season: Liberty on December 5th and 6th, UMass on January 10th and 11th and Miami on January 18th. Meetings with the Minutewomen and Rhode Island are also possibilities at the ECWHL playoffs, slated for February 20th through 22nd.

Vermont was the fourth ECWHL team and the only other Lady Ice Lions opponent in the top 15. PSU beat the Catamounts 3-0 and 5-4 in overtime back on September 27th and 28th.

In addition to the averaged vote of all Division 1 coaches, the vote of the seven-member division ranking committee and a newly-introduced computer poll are each responsible for one third of the ranking. The latest iteration of the computer poll placed the Lady Ice Lions 13th.

Overall record, strength of schedule, record versus ranked teams, games against common opponents, record versus the division and head to head performance are the primary considerations when determining how squads are slotted in the human elements. The computer looks at average goal differential as well as strength of schedule.

The next ranking carries a cutoff date of January 18th and will be released the following week, with the final version ending on February 22nd. The top eight teams in the February 22nd ranking will qualify for the ACHA National Tournament, held March 4th through 8th in York, PA.

Following a week off, Penn State returns to action with the aforementioned games at Liberty on December 5th and 6th. Puck drops from Lynchburg, VA are set for 6:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Here is the complete ranking (first-place votes in parentheses):

Miami (20)
Rhode Island
Penn State
Michigan State
Robert Morris
Grand Valley State
Colorado State
Others receiving votes: Northeastern, Ohio State, Colorado, Midland, Wisconsin

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All The Drama in Less Time: Lady Ice Lions Complete Sweep of NU

Claire Gauthier had two assists in Sunday's win

It's often said that nothing worth having comes easy. If the converse is true, then the Lady Ice Lions' two hard-fought wins over Northeastern this weekend, a task completed with a 3-2 victory Sunday morning in Matthews Arena, are just about priceless thanks to a tough trip up to Boston and a brutal bit of scheduling - combined with the feeling of heading into Thanksgiving break at 9-3-0 overall and 6-3-0 in the ECWHL.

Things got off to a bright start for the Lady Ice Lions as, just 41 seconds into the game, Devon Fisk buried a rebound of a Katie Murphy high-slot blast off a turnover from the left of NU goalie Anne-Marie Dion.

For that brief moment, it looked like Sunday morning might turn out very differently from Saturday's series-opening slog-fest, despite a 7:30 a.m. puck drop after the first game ended around midnight - a situation that resulted in a hurried hotel breakfast and a rink arrival without time for the customary dryland warmup.

That was an illusion, however.

Northeastern hung around through a 15-7 Lady Ice Lions shooting advantage in the first period and an equally-sharp early-second-period stretch that included a pair of PSU power plays. Shortly after the second (from a Katie Walsh trip of Fisk) ended however, Suzanne Friedman tied the contest up. On the play, Mary Kate Tonetti made an initial save on Michelle Macchione but was drawn off to her right by the shot, allowing Friedman to chip the puck past the senior goalie's shoulder.

Cara Mendelson put Penn State back ahead with just 50 seconds remaining in the middle frame, a goal finishing a passing play involving Claire Gauthier and Jackie Saideh. Mendelson snuck low in the zone, towards the middle of the left wing circle, to receive, then managed to finish a spectacular effort while being knocked over.

Tara Soukup seemingly put a bow on the game with a point drive, fed by Gauthier, that went iron and in with 7:06 remaining in the contest. However, the Huskies pulled it right back on a Macchione power play try that bounced over Tonetti 1:20 later, with Fisk serving a slashing infraction.

Four minutes after Penn State looked to comfortably close out the sweep thanks to Soukup, and 160 seconds after the Macchione goal, Darby Kern was sent off for body checking with 3:05 remaining. Gauthier gave that penalty kill a premature end by drawing a tripping call, but a last-minute hooking penalty to Fisk combined with NU pulling Dion for an extra skater offered several nail-biting chances for the Huskies. Tonetti - who finished with 29 saves - and the defense stood tall though, securing PSU's fourth consecutive win and a first-ever sweep of Northeastern, after the former Lady Icers program went 2-5-1 in its history against the red and black-clad opponent.

After a week off from games (although not from news, as the ACHA's second in-season ranking is expected out in the next few days) the Lady Ice Lions will return to action with a fall-semester-closing series at second ranked Liberty on December 5th and 6th, with puck drops set for 6:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. in Lynchburg, VA.

Box Score

First Period
1. Penn State, Devon Fisk (Katie Murphy), 0:41.
1. Northeastern, Ally Healy (2:00 high sticking), 1:10.
Second Period
2. Northeastern, Suzanne Friedman (Ally Healy, Michelle Macchione), 12:38; 3. Penn State, Cara Mendelson (Claire Gauthier, Jackie Saideh), 0:50.
2. Northeastern, Katie Walsh (2:00 tripping), 15:53; 3. Penn State, Riley O'Connor (2:00 tripping), 0:18.
Third Period
4. Penn State, Tara Soukup (Claire Gauthier, Riley O'Connor), 7:06; 5. Northeastern, Michelle Macchione (Kelsey Hickey, Suzanne Friedman), 5:46 (power play).
4. Penn State, Sam Siciliano (2:00 cross checking), 9:48; 5. Penn State, Devon Fisk (2:00 slashing); 6. Penn State, Darby Kern (2:00 body checking), 3:05; 7. Northeastern, Katie Walsh (2:00 tripping), 2:06; 8. Penn State, Devon Fisk (2:00 hooking), 0:55.
Penn State: Mary Kate Tonetti: W, 29 saves/31 shots. Northeastern: Anne-Marie Dion: L, 39 saves/41 shots.

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Smiddy's OT Bomb Lifts Penn State Over Northeastern Saturday Night

Madison Smiddy was the Lady Ice Lions' overtime hero on Saturday

Madison Smiddy's five-hole drive from left point with 4:20 left in overtime boosted the Lady Ice Lions to a relieving 2-1 victory over Northeastern Saturday night in Boston, MA's Matthews Arena.

For favored Penn State, which is now 8-3-0 overall and 5-3-0 in the ECWHL, Smiddy's goal was a massive and collective exhale moment, as the No. 12 squad hopes to make a statement ahead of the close of the ACHA's second ranking period on Sunday. A blemish - even a tie - against a Northeastern team that is now 4-8-0 overall and 2-7-0 in the ECWHL might dissuade voters from elevating the Lady Ice Lions into the top eight, the group of teams that will qualify for the ACHA National Tournament in March.

PSU dominated the game, particularly after a relatively even first period, ultimately outshooting the Huskies 48-19. Thanks to the heroics of NU standout goalie Anne-Marie Dion though, that discrepancy's impact on the scoreboard was slow in coming.

Darby Kern finally blew up the bagel factory with 1:49 left in the second period. Devon Fisk made it possible with a strong possession streak, patiently probing the offensive zone before settling on the left-wing corner, where she centered for Kern to finish.

While one goal is hardly an insurmountable lead, it very easily could have been safe for 21:49 behind the Lady Ice Lions' rock-solid defense paced throughout the game by Kim Badorrek and Cassie Dunne, in addition to the line of Kern, Katie Murphy and Fisk, which kept churning out scoring chances and close calls.

Kelsey Hickey, Northeastern's leading goal scorer, had other ideas. NU's club president, a native of Cranberry Township, PA, tied the contest 2:41 in the third period. Penn State outshot the Huskies 23-3 through the rest of regulation but could not dent Dion without 40 seconds beyond the customary 60 minutes.

Mary Kate Tonetti made 18 saves on the other end of the ice, none bigger than a perfectly-positioned mid-third period stop on Michelle Macchione, who stole the puck at the PSU line in a tied game and broke in alone.

There were just three penalties in the game, with Penn State killing off an early too many players on the ice call but coming up empty on two power play opportunities, including a cross checking call to NU's Suzanne Friedman with 7:12 left in the third period.

PSU has been to overtime twice this season, with both trips winding up successful - Kern scored an extra time marker on September 28th at Vermont to end a 5-4 victory over the Catamounts.

The Lady Ice Lions will go for the sweep of Northeastern in extremely short order, as the team will try to navigate the season's quickest game turnaround and be ready to go at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday morning in Matthews Arena - just 10 hours after Saturday's 9:30 p.m. start time.

Box Score

First Period
1. Penn State, Bench (2:00 too many players on the ice, served by Tarika Embar), 15:30.
Second Period
1. Penn State, Darby Kern (Devon Fisk), 1:49.
2. Northeastern, Katie Walsh (2:00 tripping), 16:35.
Third Period
2. Northeastern, Kelsey Hickey (Suzanne Friedman, Katie Walsh), 17:19
3. Northeastern, Suzanne Friedman (2:00 cross checking), 7:12.
3. Penn State, Madison Smiddy (Katie Murphy), 4:20.
Penn State: Mary Kate Tonetti: W, 18 saves/19 shots. Northeastern: Anne-Marie Dion: L, 46 saves/48 shots.

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Lady Ice Lions Ship Up to Boston to Battle ECWHL Rival Northeastern

What: No. 12 Penn State (7-3-0 overall, 4-3-0 Eastern Collegiate Women's Hockey League) visits Northeastern (4-7-0 overall, 2-6-0 Eastern Collegiate Women's Hockey League) for an ECWHL series

When: Saturday, November 22nd at 9:30 p.m. and Sunday, November 23rd at 8:00 a.m.

Where: Matthews Arena; Boston, MA

Notable: The Lady Ice Lions complete their first pass through their five ECWHL opponents against the 2012 ACHA Division 1 national champs

Game Notes

Slippery Rocked: Last Friday, the Lady Ice Lions obliterated in-state rival Slippery Rock by a 15-3 count at Pegula Ice Arena. The game set team records for offensive output and margin of victory, while Darby Kern scored PSU's first-ever shorthanded goal. Most notably though, Tarika Embar, Emma Embar and Hannah Dier all scored their first collegiate goals (Tarika added a second for good measure), while Sumire Clevenger and Allyssa Long both played their first minutes in goal as Lady Ice Lions, with Clevenger starting and gaining the win. Penn State is now 4-0-0 all time against SRU, which plays in ACHA Division 2.

They Might Be Giants: The second ACHA ranking period ends on Sunday (with the poll results released next week), as Penn State looks to make a move into the top eight in order to qualify for the national championship tournament. Here's a look at each of the top 15, their season-to-date records in ACHA games, their results during this ranking period, and what they have on tap for this weekend.
  1. Miami (12-0-1 ACHA record): W 3-2 vs. Minnesota, W 5-0 vs. Massachusetts, W 15-0 vs. Denver, T 1-1 vs. Adrian, W 5-2 vs. Adrian. | This weekend: Two games vs. Liberty.
  2. Liberty (12-1-1): W 11-2 vs. Buffalo, W 11-0 vs. Buffalo, W 4-1 vs. Rhode Island, L 3-4 vs. Rhode Island. | This weekend: Two games at Miami.
  3. Massachusetts (12-4-0): W 4-1 vs. Colorado, L 0-5 vs. Miami, W 10-2 vs. Wisconsin, W 3-0 vs. Vermont, W 5-3 vs. Vermont. | This weekend: Idle.
  4. Rhode Island (6-3-0): W 3-1 vs. Penn State, L 2-3 vs. Penn State, L 1-4 at Liberty, W 4-3 at Liberty. | This weekend: Two games vs. Navy.
  5. Michigan (5-3-0): W 9-1 vs. Denver, L 2-5 vs. Colorado State, W 11-1 vs. Colorado. | This weekend: One game vs. Lindenwood-Belleville.
  6. Grand Valley State (7-1-1): L 1-5 vs. Michigan State, W 4-1 at Ohio State, W 4-1 at Ohio State, W 1-0 at Davenport, W 2-0 vs. Davenport. | This weekend: One game vs. Notre Dame.
  7. Michigan State (4-0-2): W 5-1 at Grand Valley State, T 0-0 at Adrian. | This weekend: One game at Davenport.
  8. Davenport (6-4-0): L 0-1 vs. Grand Valley State, L 0-2 at Grand Valley State. | This weekend: One game vs. Michigan State.
  9. Colorado State (7-1-2): W 4-3 vs. Lindenwood-Belleville, W 2-1 vs. Lindenwood-Belleville, W 5-1 vs. Wisconsin, W 5-2 vs. Michigan, T 1-1 vs. Minnesota. | This weekend: Idle.
  10. Robert Morris (8-4-0): W 6-0 at Midland, W 6-3 at Midland, W 3-1 vs. Colorado, W 5-1 vs. Colorado. | This weekend: Two games vs. Midland.
  11. Minnesota (7-1-1): L 2-3 vs. Miami, W 12-1 vs. Colorado, T 1-1 vs. Colorado State, W 10-2 vs. Midland, W 10-2 vs. Midland. | This weekend: Idle.
  12. Penn State (7-3-0): W 9-0 vs. Navy, L 1-3 at Rhode Island, W 3-2 at Rhode Island, W 15-3 vs. Slippery Rock. | This weekend: Two games at Northeastern.
  13. Vermont (2-7-1): L 0-3 at Massachusetts, L 3-5 at Massachusetts. | This weekend: Idle.
  14. Adrian (2-1-2): T 0-0 vs. Michigan State, W 3-1 vs. California (PA), W 4-0 vs. California (PA), T 1-1 at Miami, L 2-5 at Miami. | This weekend: Two games vs. Lindenwood-Belleville
  15. Colorado (2-11-1): L 1-5 vs. Lindenwood-Belleville, L 2-3 vs. Lindenwood-Belleville, L 1-4 vs. Massachusetts, L 1-12 vs. Minnesota, L 1-11 vs. Michigan, W 3-2 at Wisconsin, T 2-2 at Wisconsin, L 1-3 at Robert Morris, L 1-5 at Robert Morris. | This weekend: Idle.
With a road split against the fourth-ranked Rams, a team that subsequently earned a road split with number two Liberty (handing the Flames their first loss of the season in the process), the Lady Ice Lions have a very strong case to gain position next week.

Classic Barnstorming: This weekend, the Lady Ice Lions will play in one of the most historic arenas anywhere in the world. Northeastern's Matthews Arena (originally called Boston Arena) opened in 1910, making it the oldest indoor hockey arena still used for hockey. It was the original home of both the NHL's Boston Bruins, hosting that team from 1924 through 1928, and the World Hockey Association's New England Whalers (later the NHL's Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes franchise). It also housed the NBA's Boston Celtics from their inaugural 1946-47 season through 1954-55. In college hockey, the noted NCAA men's programs at Northeastern, Boston University, Boston College, Harvard, Tufts and the Wentworth Institute of Technology also began their lives in the barn.

Nifty Fifty: Saturday's contest marks the 50th in Lady Ice Lions history, dating to the team's founding for the 2012-13 season. Over the first 49 games, Penn State has posted a record of 35-11-3, in addition to accomplishments like the 2013-14 College Hockey East regular season title and back to back ACHA Division 2 championship game appearances in 2013 and 2014. Ashton Schaffer has played in all 49 Lady Ice Lions games (although she will break the string and miss numbers 50 and 51 this weekend), while Devon Fisk has played in 48, Jackie Saideh has been in 47, while Mary Kate Tonetti is next with 46. Tara Soukup and Nina Elia are the other two players who have been on the team's roster since day one, but Elia is studying abroad this semester and is stuck on 39 games as a result. Soukup has 37 games in with the team, missing 12 due to injury.

The Opponent

Name: Northeastern University
Nickname: Huskies
Location: Boston, MA

Series History: Tied, 0-0-0. While the Lady Ice Lions are facing Northeastern for the first time this weekend, the former Lady Icers program went 2-5-1 against the Huskies through it's final 2011-12 season.

About Northeastern: NU is the only ECWHL program that has ever won an ACHA national championship - and they have two, including in 2010 at the Division 2 level and in 2012 at the Division 1 level behind tourney MVP Chelsea Dietz in goal. The Huskies' first season in D1 was 2010-11, a year that saw the program's only ECWHL regular season and playoff championships - the latter standing as the first ever not won by Rhode Island, which captured the first seven league tournament crowns.

This year Northeastern has struggled relative to that standard with a 4-7-0 overall mark, including wins over Navy (twice, last weekend) and Division 2 squads Connecticut and New Hampshire. The losses haven't been entirely disastrous though, as NU has managed to stay within two goals of ECWHL frontrunners Massachusetts and URI. Michelle Macchione and Kelsey Hickey lead the way offensively for the Huskies, combining for 40 percent of the team's 25 goals this season. Meanwhile, four of goalie Anne Marie Dion's seven appearances have come against UMass or Rhode Island, but she still carries a 0.912 save percentage and a 2.33 goals against average.

Trivia: While Penn State started as The Farmers' High School of Pennsylvania - the name of the university from 1855 through 1862 - Northeastern has an equally awkward original moniker upon its 1898 founding: the Evening Institute for Younger Men at the Huntington Avenue YMCA. Eighteen years later, after adding several programs (and day classes), it was rechristened as Northeastern College, before switching to Northeastern University in 1922.

Head Coach: Jeff Postera
Goals Scored Per Game: 2.27
Goals Allowed Per Game: 3.45

Team Website:

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