Meet the WIHC: Riley O'Connor


Year: Junior

Major: Biobehavioral health, with the intention of attending physician assistant graduate school

Hometown: Boothwyn, PA

Position: Center

Shoots: Right

Size: 5-foot-4, 110 pounds

Previous Team: Princeton Tiger Lilies U19


Her style of play: "I am happy to be a center because that position is the exactly the style I like to play. I really enjoy scoring goals, getting in the goalie’s face and beating others to the puck. At the same time, I also like to block shots and be a pain to the opposing team. I love penalty killing the most. I definitely do not have size on my side but I do the best I can with my speed and shot.

The team's goals for this season: "The team goals for this season are definitely to make it to the national championship and our goal there should be to win. We have a good team this year, and our defense is really strong which will allow offense to take more risks."

What makes the Women's Ice Hockey Club unique: "Our program is unique because we are a very young team and at this point, highly underrated. After last season, no one expects us to be good and I think that is exciting for us, because other teams will end up being really surprised."

The team's new freshman class: "The freshmen are great players as well as great people. They add a lot of fun and excitement into the team. They already seem comfortable with the whole team and seem confident in their hockey capabilities on the ice. We definitely can’t replace [last year's] seniors, but the freshmen are already filling in perfectly."

How she spent this past summer: "This summer, I volunteered in the emergency room at Christiana Hospital as well as the Step Down Unit at Crozer Hospital. I completed about 200 patient-care hours for PA school requirements. I also shadowed a few PAs at A. I. DuPont Hospital for Children. In addition, I was a server at Texas Roadhouse. On the fun side, I went to Florida for the first time in my life which was a great vacation."

What makes her work well with frequent linemate Claire Gauthier: "Claire is my best friend from Penn State but she’s also a teammate that I have always just connected with on a hockey level. We both really enjoy penalty kill and are very successful with that. I feel like there are always one or two teammates that you just easily click with, and Claire is definitely that teammate. She is also a lefty and I am a righty, so that always helps."

Her favorite thing about attending Penn State: "My favorite thing about Penn State is the feeling of family. It sounds cliché, but everything here makes you feel like you are a part of something bigger. Whether I’m standing in the bleachers at a Saturday night football game, or sitting with my teammates in the locker room before a big game, or even sitting in a lecture hall of 500 students interested in the same classes as me, I always feel like I am a part of something bigger. A big school can be overwhelming, but all the opportunities that Penn State has to offer has allowed me to find people that I love just like family. Our hockey team has a huge impact on that, which is why I enjoy playing so much."

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Lady Ice Lions Place Sixteenth in the ACHA Preseason Ranking

For the second time in team history, the Lady Ice Lions have placed outside of the numbered slots in the ACHA rankings, as Penn State occupied the first "receiving votes" spot (16th overall) in the Division 1 preseason survey, released Tuesday evening.

It matches the team's spot in the final ranking of the 2015-16 season.

However, there's a decidedly different air to things this time around. While last season's final poll represented something resembling one more kick in the teeth to cap a 5-20-2 season, this edition presents much more optimistically.

Most of that comes from the full slate of games stretched in front of the team, of course. Beginning on September 30th and October 1st at Vermont (placed two spots below PSU as the final team receiving votes), there is ample opportunity for Penn State to improve its station and eventually gain the top eight ranking necessary for inclusion in the ACHA National Tournament field at the end of the season. Following the games at UVM, games against No. 6 Massachusetts, No. 7 Rhode Island, No. 4 Adrian, then return engagements with UMass and URI are all part of the fall semester schedule.

Another piece of the puzzle originates in changes made to the rankings at the ACHA's annual meeting back in April. Beginning this season, the methodology will be much clearer, as computers and the collective opinion D1 competition committee (which counts PSU coach Patrick Fung as one of its eight members) each count for half, while the division-wide coach vote has been eliminated. Additionally, rankings will now be issued weekly - in previous seasons, teams had to wait until the end of October to learn whether their start to the year helped, hurt or did nothing.

Defending national champion Miami took the top spot, while Liberty, Grand Valley State and Adrian, the teams that have joined the RedHawks as ACHA semifinalists in each of the last two seasons, followed. Western Women's Collegiate Hockey League champion Lindenwood-Belleville rounded out the top five.

After UMass and URI, Michigan State and Michigan - both Penn State opponents in January - placed eighth and ninth. Colorado, Minnesota, Davenport, Robert Morris, new team McKendree and Colorado State rounded out the top 15. Arizona State, another new club for 2016-17, placed between the Lady Ice Lions and Vermont after receiving the second-most votes among unranked teams.

Here is the complete ranking:

Grand Valley State
Robert Morris
Rhode Island
Colorado State
Michigan State
Others receiving votes: Penn State, Arizona State, Vermont

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Women's Ice Hockey Club Set to Debut Audio Broadcasts of Away Games

For the first time ever, beginning with its 2016-17 opener on September 30th at Vermont, the Women's Ice Hockey Club will offer fans the opportunity to listen to live audio broadcasts of Lady Ice Lions away games.

The play-by-play will be carried on Mixlr, an audio streaming service used by numerous radio stations, podcasts and musicians - as well as the Calgary Inferno of the professional Canadian Women's Hockey League, who have used the platform to broadcast home games for the past few seasons. There are several options to listen to the feed, including through the team's page on the Mixlr website, which can be found under the Media menu above, or directly at http://mixlr.com/psuwihc/. Mixlr also has an app available for most devices, including those on the iOS and Android operating systems (search for "PSUWIHC" in the app).

A free account is not required to listen, although signing up allows fans to interact with the broadcast and each other through Mixlr's chat function.

The stream will begin approximately five minutes before the start of each game and turned off for intermissions before resuming for the beginning of the following period.

Due to personnel limitations, the new broadcasts will necessarily require scaling back the team's social media presence during games, most notably on Twitter where updates are likely to only include goal scoring and ends of periods. Twitter will remain unaffected during home games and any away games where live audio is not produced. For the latest on the broadcast situation related to each individual game, be sure to keep up with Women's Ice Hockey Club's official social media accounts, including Twitter and Facebook, leading up to puck drop.

All of these arrangements are, for the time being, on a trial basis and subject to change based on logistics, signal availability, listener feedback and other circumstances, including the availability of an audio or video stream produced by the hosting opponent.

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Maize and Through: Michigan Contest Added to Open January Road Trip

Jenna Trubiano will lead her Wolverines against the Lady Ice Lions on January 20th 

In most cases, it's impossible to determine in advance whether a given drive to an away game will be difficult or easy. Sometimes the miles fly by, while other times, two hours of Connecticut traffic force a rink arrival 30 minutes before puck drop. But when the Lady Ice Lions head to the Great Lakes State in late January to face Michigan State, it's already safe to say that the journey will be more difficult than most.

The reason: Penn State has added a third game that weekend, preceding the pair with the Spartans, against national powerhouse Michigan. The newly-scheduled contest is slated for Friday, January 20th at 9:45 p.m. at Arctic Coliseum in Chelsea, MI, roughly 20 minutes west of UM's home base in Ann Arbor (and about an hour from MSU's East Lansing).

The Wolverines represent Penn State's 13th opponent that competed in this past March's ACHA National Tournament, as Michigan visited the championships for an ACHA record-tying 13th time by virtue of finishing eighth in the association rankings. UM has also made a record 10 appearances in the Central Collegiate Women's Hockey Association championship game (most recently in 2015) with a pair of titles.

Head coach Terry Mathews is expected to field a strong team once again in 2016-17, as forwards Erin Gregoire and Jen Cusmano were the Wolverines' only 2016 graduations. Notable players expected to return include 2015 World University Games competitor Eleanor Chalifoux, 2016 CCWHA All-Tournament pick Jenna Trubiano and key goal scorers Mercedes Reyes and Karrie Inman, who scored nine and seven last season.

It will be the first meeting between the Wolverines and the present iteration of Penn State's ACHA team, although the former Lady Icers team met UM a handful of times, the most recent being a 2-1 Michigan overtime win at the Great Lakes Women's College Hockey Showcase on October 5, 2008 in Dimondale, MI.

Well before that long weekend in Michigan, of course, Penn State will open the 2016-17 season on September 30th and October 1st with a visit to ECWHL foe Vermont. Game times are set for 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m., respectively.

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