Sudden Victory: Kern, Fisk Light Up UVM, PSU Survives 5-4 in OT

Devon Fisk scored three times and added an assist

It wasn't easy, but the Lady Ice Lions will take it.

Darby Kern capped off a dominant start to an overtime period with a third-chance goal from the left wing circle, her second tally of the game (along with two assists), as Penn State (2-0-0, 2-0-0 ECWHL) survived a persistent Vermont (0-2-0, 0-2-0 ECWHL) team to win 5-4 in Burlington, VT Sunday afternoon and sweep the season-opening series.

Before Kern's heroics, though, the match played out as a scoring duel between two of the ACHA's top guns.

PSU's Devon Fisk - a Division 2 All-American and the team's leading point getter for the last two years - went first, boosting the Lady Ice Lions to a 2-0 lead after the first period. On each, Geneva Wagoner played an integral role, first freeing the puck behind the UVM cage for Fisk to retrieve and fire through from a sharp left-side angle with 13:52 left in the frame. Seven minutes later, Wagoner's shot generated a rebound for Fisk to deposit from nearly the same spot, but on the right side.

Vermont's Emily Ford, the eighth best goal scorer in Division 1 last season, then did her best to spoil Penn State's show. She buried twice in the first 3:40 of the second period to tie things up, one goal coming on a spectacular individual effort, the other a more conventional snipe from above the left faceoff dot after circling the zone.

Ford's goals snapped the shutout streak of senior goalie Mary Kate Tonetti, who went 184:26 over three-plus games before allowing her first puck through as a Lady Ice Lion.

Fisk replied by finishing a hat trick one quarter of the period later, a goal that would foreshadow Kern's winner, as it followed up close calls by a defenseman (Kim Badorrek) and a linemate (Kern). The latter pushed Penn State's lead back to a pair with 6:12 left in the period by shoveling home a backhand following Madison Smiddy's end-to-end rush.

Vermont stuck around, however, with Ford finishing her own hat trick just before intermission on a back-door feed from Erin McDonald. She then added a fourth to tie the game with 5:49 remaining in regulation.

Fortunately, it was all just prelude. PSU sprung to life from there, carrying the play through the rest of the third period, then needing only 1:05 of extra time on top of that for Kern to end it.

So the goal tally contest ultimately went to Ford over Fisk, 4-3. But the game went to Penn State, thanks to Fisk having more helpful friends - the more important element to hockey, after all.

The Lady Ice Lions return to Pegula Ice Arena next weekend to open their home schedule against former conference rival Delaware. Puck drops are set for Saturday at 9:00 p.m. and Sunday at 12:45 p.m.

Box Score

First Period
1. Penn State, Devon Fisk (unassisted), 13:52; 2. Penn State, Devon Fisk (Geneva Wagoner, Darby Kern), 7:30.
1. Penn State, Sam Siciliano (2:00 hooking), 4:15.
Second Period
3. Vermont, Emily Ford (unassisted), 17:34; 4. Vermont, Emily Ford (Carly Tashman), 16:20; 5. Penn State, Devon Fisk (Darby Kern, Kim Badorrek), 11:59; 6. Penn State, Darby Kern (Madison Smiddy), 6:12; 7. Vermont, Emily Ford (Erin McDonald), 1:06.
Third Period
8. Vermont, Emily Ford (Erin Bourne, Erin McDonald), 5:49.
9. Penn State, Darby Kern (Geneva Wagoner, Devon Fisk), 3:55.
Penn State: Mary Kate Tonetti (61:05): W, 21 saves/25 shots. Vermont: Rosie Gluck (61:05): L, 35 saves/40 shots.

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Kern, Tonetti Lead Charge as Penn State Shuts Out Vermont in Opener

Mary Kate Tonetti now has a 162-minute shutout streak

Every season, for every team, in every sport, at every level, opens with unanswered questions: What can we expect from our new players? How much will we miss the old ones? And, of course, for the Penn State Lady Ice Lions this season, how will all of the returning players fare in the more rigorous battles of ACHA Division 1 and one of the nation's toughest conferences after a pair of seasons in Division 2? All of those questions, of course, point back to that most fundamental of sports queries in one way or another: Are we good?

So far, so good.

Junior forward Darby Kern scored a pair of goals in her first game with the team and sophomore defenseman Cassie Dunne added another in support of Mary Kate Tonetti's shutout, as Penn State (1-0-0, 1-0-0 ECWHL) defeated Vermont (0-1-0, 0-1-0 ECWHL) 3-0 in its season and era opener Saturday night in Burlington, VT.

The Lady Ice Lions were dominant throughout the evening, although they had nothing to show for their efforts after a scoreless first period. But, as so often happens in hockey, the contest was decided with a quick burst.

Kern got things started midway through the frame by testing the left side of the Catamounts' zone. She was closed down, but managed to get the puck to Devon Fisk to probe the opposite side. The ice there was a bit more easily gained, so the junior All-American held possession, circled behind the net, and finally found Dunne stepping into the middle to fire home.

Almost exactly four minutes later, senior defenseman Cara Mendelson found Kern streaking through the neutral zone with a lasered stretch pass, and the native of Venetia, PA deposited past Vermont goalie Audrey Currier for a 2-0 lead. Kern added an empty-net goal with three seconds remaining in the game for the final margin.

Tonetti, who of course spent most of the last two seasons playing forward to alleviate depth concerns, has now played in three contests, spanning 162 minutes, as a Lady Ice Lions netminder. She has yet to allow a goal.

The senior club president was tested most heavily during the third period, with the score a safe-but-not-too-much-so 2-0, as Penn State took three consecutive penalties (the only three by either team in the match). She held, however, even with Currier pulled for an extra attacker over the second half of the last kill, a checking call to Sam Siciliano with three minutes left in the final stanza.

PSU will return to the Gutterson Fieldhouse ice Sunday afternoon at 1:30 to look for a sweep of the Catamounts before returning to Pegula Ice Arena for the first home series of the campaign, versus Delaware on October 4th and 5th.

Box Score

First Period
Second Period
1. Penn State, Cassie Dunne (Darby Kern, Devon Fisk), 11:48; 2. Penn State, Darby Kern (Cara Mendelson), 7:51.
Third Period
3. Darby Kern (unassisted), 0:03 (empty net).
1. Penn State, Sam Siciliano (2:00 holding), 13:48; 2. Penn State, Anna Marcus (2:00 hooking), 5:53; 3. Penn State, Sam Siciliano (2:00 body checking), 3:00.
Penn State: Mary Kate Tonetti: W. Vermont: Audrey Currier (58:00): L.

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Lady Ice Lions Set to Open New Season and Era With Trip to Vermont

What: Penn State (0-0-0 overall, 0-0-0 Eastern Collegiate Women's Hockey League) travels to Vermont (0-0-0 overall, 0-0-0 Eastern Collegiate Women's Hockey League) in an ECWHL series

When: Saturday, September 27th at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, September 28th at 1:30 p.m.

Where: Gutterson Fieldhouse; Burlington, VT

Notable: Penn State makes its season, ACHA Division 1 and ECWHL debut on the road against the Catamounts

Game Notes

You Again (Part I)?: As with several opponents in this first season at the Division 1 level, the Lady Ice Lions and Vermont have never met. However, on February 18th and 19th, 2012, the former Lady Icers program hosted UVM at the Ice Pavilion, with PSU coming away with a 5-0, 4-2 sweep to clinch the ECWHL regular season championship. Current team members Cara Mendelson, Katie Murphy and Madison Smiddy, as well as assistant coach Jess Desorcie, all played that weekend (Mary Kate Tonetti, Ashton Schaffer and Sarah Eisenhut were all on the roster as well but did not see action). Mendelson and Murphy each recorded assists, and Desorcie scored twice with a pair of helpers.

You Again (Part II)?: The Catamounts' roster features two players who previously played with NCAA programs, junior forward Emily Ford (Division I Vermont) and junior defenseman Nicole Beaudoin (Division III Chatham). With their old teams, they played a combined four games against Penn State's NCAA team in 2012-13, and therefore against the Lady Ice Lions' Mendelson, Murphy, Smiddy, Darby Kern and assistant coach Desorcie, who were then a part of the Nittany Lions' varsity squad. In all, PSU went 3-1-0 against the pair of Catamounts, with Smiddy (two assists and a +3 rating in three games), Desorcie (five assists and a +4 rating in three games) and Kern (one assist and a +3 rating in two games) all collecting points.

Experienced, Yet Not: Despite a core of eight seniors, some of whom have played for three different teams at Penn State alone, the Lady Ice Lions are also introducing a bevy of new players this weekend - nine in all. Seven, forwards Claire Gauthier, Riley O'Connor, Tarika Embar and Emma Embar, as well as defensemen Sam Siciliano, Aubrey Vena and Rachel Reveillo, are freshmen. The others are junior goaltender Sumire Clevenger, a transfer from Penn State's Brandywine campus, and defenseman Kelly Watson. The latter is the newest member of the club, joining a couple weeks ago after transferring to PSU following a freshman year at the University of New England in Biddeford, ME.

Don't Forget Your Headphones: Beginning with this season-opening series (a 972-mile round trip), the Lady Ice Lions will log a whopping 4,066 travel miles from University Park during the fall semester alone. Trips to Massachusetts (October 10th and 11th, 778 miles), Rhode Island (November 8th and 9th, 792 miles), Northeastern (November 21st and 22nd, 876 miles) and Liberty (December 5th and 6th, 648 miles) are slated before the holidays, with only five games at Pegula Ice Arena (October 4th and 5th versus Delaware, November 2nd versus Navy, November 14th and 15th versus Slippery Rock) as a reprieve.

Fresh Meat: Since the Lady Ice Lions' founding for the 2012-13 season, the team has a 8-2-2 record when facing an opponent for the first time, defeating ACHA Division 2 squads Michigan State, Maryland, Slippery Rock, Navy, West Chester, Alaska, Wisconsin-Stout and Liberty in series openers. The losses came to California (PA) and Iowa State, while the initial meetings with North Dakota State and Delaware ended in draws.

The Opponent

Name: University of Vermont
Nickname: Catamounts
Location: Burlington, VT

Series History: Tied, 0-0-0.

About Vermont: Like Penn State, Vermont is a relatively new program, joining ACHA Division 2 in 2010-11 and Division 1 and the ECWHL a year later. While never a conference champion or an ACHA tournament qualifier, the Catamounts are much improved from the team that only won once against a current conference member from 2011-2013 and endured a 16-game winless skid and a 3-21-1 mark in two seasons ago. Last year, UVM upset both national runner up Massachusetts and Northeastern on the way to tripling its win total, to nine. Along the way, former NCAA players Ford and Beaudoin have signed on, with Ford's 22 goals in 2013-14 ranking eighth in the division. Last weekend, Vermont introduced a whopping eleven new recruits in a scrimmage with the Boston Shamrocks U19 team.

Trivia: UVM's home Gutterson Fieldhouse hosted the IIHF Women's World Championship in 2012, which was decided by a Caroline Ouellette overtime goal that gave Canada the gold medal over the United States.

Head Coach: Tom Ryan (second season)
Goals Scored Per Game (2013-14): 3.10
Goals Allowed Per Game (2013-14): 3.48

Team Website:

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Lady Ice Lions Tabbed Number 11 in ACHA D1 Preseason Ranking

2013-14 Division 2 Coach of the Year Patrick Fung and the Lady Ice Lions start the season ranked 11th

While much remains unknown about how Penn State's restocked ACHA Division 2 powerhouse will compete in Division 1, the D1 ranking committee has levied an official position, placing the Lady Ice Lions 11th in its preseason poll, released Friday.

Despite PSU being in its first season in D1, the spot was given likely as a nod to the team's high level of success in the lower Division 2 (28-8-3 in two seasons, with a pair of trips to the national championship game) as well as the fact that the blue and white is not a typical D2 upstart - six seniors on the roster were a part of the D1 Lady Icers as freshmen in 2011-12.

Curiously enough, the eleventh slot is almost a perfect continuation of where the Lady Icers left things before evolving into Penn State's NCAA team for the 2012-13 season. That team finished 9th in its final ACHA season after stops at each spot from 10 through 12 in the first three polls.

Elsewhere, defending national champion Miami unsurprisingly and unanimously took the top spot. The RedHawks return the bulk of their squad, including ACHA tournament MVP Kaley Mooney - a Pittsburgh native who previously played with Lady Ice Lions Cara Mendelson, Kim Badorrek and Darby Kern in the Team Pittsburgh Tier 1 program - as well as World University Games heroes Katie Augustine and Morgan McGrath. Hayley Williams, the reigning Zoe Harris Award winner as ACHA player of the year, has also joined Miami as a transfer from Robert Morris.

PSU's conference, the ECWHL, was well represented in the rankings. Massachusetts, the 2014 national runners-up and including former Penn State Lady Icer Paige Harrington, checked in at number two. Perennial power Rhode Island will begin the era after the departure of program founder Beth McCann under Ashley Pagliarini ranked fifth. Northeastern grabbed the 13th spot (tied with Colorado), while Vermont received votes but missed the top 15 cutoff.

Liberty, which will host the Lady Ice Lions in a December non-conference series, placed third.

While this ranking was developed by the ACHA Division 1 ranking committee with informative contributions from the division's head coaches, the in-season versions will be an average of three separate polls. The first will be the traditional coaches survey, with the ranking committee's vote counting for another third and a computer poll representing the remaining third.

Overall record, strength of schedule, record versus ranked teams, games against common opponents, record versus the division and head to head performance remain the primary considerations when determining how squads are slotted.

The cutoff date for the next poll is October 26th, with others following on November 23rd, January 18th and February 22nd. The top eight teams in that final ranking will qualify for the ACHA National Tournament, held March 4th through 8th in York, PA.

Penn State begins its quest to qualify for the tournament on September 27th and 28th with a pair of games at Vermont, before returning to Pegula Ice Arena to face off with Division 2 opponent Delaware on October 4th and 5th.

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

Miami (7)
Rhode Island
Michigan State
Grand Valley State
Robert Morris
Penn State
Colorado State
Others receiving votes: Lindenwood-Belleville, Wisconsin, Denver, Vermont

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