Freshmen Shine on Sunday, but UMass Completes Sweep, 5-2

Freshman Erin Bonner scored her first career goal to add to classmate Sarah McGillicuddy's sixth, but the Lady Ice Lions were once again unable to keep pace with UMass on Sunday morning, as the Minutemen completed a series sweep by a 5-2 count in Amherst, MA.

Penn State, with the defeat, wrapped up its first round of ECWHL competition at 0-4-0, part of a 1-12-0 overall mark. No. 8 UMass, meanwhile, is now tied with Rhode Island for first place with a 2-0-0 league mark and is 9-5-0 overall.

After Hannah Sullivan staked the Minutemen to a 1-0 lead on the power play, McGillicuddy continued her torrid stretch in the latter stages of the first period with another of her specialties: a multi-zone transitional effort that involves walking one or two opposing defensemen. In this case, after taking from Syd Foy, McGillicuddy outraced both Minutemen defenders into their zone down the left side, before sweeping behind them and tucking the puck barely underneath the outstretched left pad of Amber Greene.

Since scoring her first and second career goals at Mercyhurst on October 29th, McGillicuddy has notched all six of her markers over PSU's last eight games.

She is also quickly climbing the ranks of prolific goal-scoring freshmen in recent team history. Since 2006-07 when Alicia Lepore scored an obscene 81 goals as a freshman (a record for all players that will likely live forever), Tess Weaver's 14 in 2011-12 stands as the best rookie total at the ACHA Division 1 level. Riley O'Connor and Claire Gauthier scored nine apiece as freshmen in 2014-15, while Devon Fisk (15), Mandy Mortach (11) and Geneva Wagoner (11) each cracked double digits at the Division 2 level in 2012-13 or 2013-14.

UMass, as was the case all weekend, had a quick answer as Jojo Olson scored her third of what would eventually be four total goals during the series, just 1:29 after McGillicuddy's score, with this one coming through a Kelly Dolan helper.

The Minutemen were productive on the advantage all weekend, finishing 5-for-13 over the two games (while holding PSU to 0-for-11), and they would take advantage of their hot special teams to salt things away during the second period, eventually carrying a 5-1 lead into the intermission.

With O'Connor off for body checking early on, Meghan Lawler gave the home side a 3-1 edge by banging home a backside rebound from Olson, with Kelly DeMarco initially feeding it low. Two Lady Ice Lions penalties later, Sandra Bienkowski sniped top shelf from high between the circles, while Jojo Olson tacked on an even-strength goal with 1:24 remaining on a crisp backhand.

The third period was marred early on by a serious injury to Dolan, who gained a half step behind Trish Cierniak and looked to get an attempt on goaltender Emma Shannon. Cierniak was forced to hook the attacking UMass player, which caused her to tumble into the end boards, where she remained on her back for roughly 20 minutes before being carried off.

Once PSU killed the major penalty tagged to Cierniak for the play, the blue and white played a sturdy final 14 minutes, highlighted by Bonner's goal with 6:36 remaining. McGillicuddy was once again the center of attention for part of the play, earning an assist by dangling to the slot. She momentarily appeared to be broken up by the UMass defense, but the loose puck found the stick of Bonner, who slammed it through Greene to set the contest's final margin at three.

With a tough stretch of nine games over four consecutive weekends completed, the Lady Ice Lions will now enjoy Thankgiving break away from school, before returning to action at 8:00 p.m. on December 8th against Mercyhurst in Pegula Ice Arena.

Box Score

First Period
1. Massachusetts, Hannah Sullivan (unassisted), 13:31 (power play); 2. Penn State, Sarah McGillicuddy (Syd Foy), 6:05; 3. Massachusetts, Jojo Olson (Kelly Dolan), 4:36.
1. Penn State, Syd Foy (2:00 hooking), 15:08; 2. Massachusetts, Jojo Olson (2:00 interference), 12:21.
Second Period
4. Massachusetts, Meghan Lawler (Jojo Olson, Kelly DeMarco), 15:39 (power play); 5. Massachusetts, Sandra Bienkowski (Hannah Sullivan, Meredith Gallagher), 4:14 (power play); 6. Massachusetts, Jojo Olson (Olivia Knight), 1:24.
3. Penn State, Riley O'Connor (2:00 body checking), 15:52; 4. Penn State, Katelyn Trask (2:00 high sticking), 13:51; 5. Massachusetts, Hannah Sullivan (2:00 tripping), 8:31; 6. Penn State, Sophie Paolizzi (2:00 hit from behind), 4:47.
Third Period
7. Penn State, Erin Bonner (Sarah McGillicuddy), 6:36.
7. Penn State, Trish Cierniak (5:00 hooking), 18:56; 8. Massachusetts, Bench (2:00 too many players, served by Isabel Aluia), 13:20; 9. Massachusetts, Sandra Bienkowski (2:00 hooking), 11:07; 10. Massachusetts, Gabby Martinez (2:00 interference), 5:01; 11. Penn State, Sarah McGillicuddy (2:00 slashing), 0:59.
Penn State: Emma Shannon: L, 25 saves/30 shots. Massachusetts: Amber Greene: W, 22 saves/24 shots.

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UMass Takes Series Opener Despite McGillicuddy, O'Connor Goals

Riley O'Connor scored a 3-on-5 shorthanded goal in the late going

Sarah McGillicuddy and Riley O'Connor scored spectacular transitional goals, but Penn State was doomed by a slow start and power play misfires in a 5-2 loss at Massachusetts on Friday night in Amherst, MA.

With the defeat, PSU dropped to 1-11-0 overall (0-3-0 ECWHL), while the eighth-ranked Minutemen are now 8-5-0 overall (1-0-0 ECWHL).

UMass jumped out to a 3-0 lead at the end of the first period, a scoreline that belied what was generally an evenly-played frame and wound up representing the difference in the contest.

Annie Lee struck first, with 7:55 remaining, on a breakaway following a nice stretch pass from Sarah O'Sullivan that caught the Lady Ice Lions napping near the Massachusetts line. Just over a minute later, with Trish Cierniak serving a body checking minor, UMass leading scorer Jojo Olson buried from the bottom of the circle from Kelly Dolan's feed. The trifecta wrapped up with 4:10 left when Hannah Sullivan's centering attempt from right wing took an unfortunate bounce in front and wound up behind Emma Shannon.

McGillicuddy finally got Penn State on the board early in the second period with a fantastic individual effort.

Cierniak got the sequence started with a nice play to get the puck out of the PSU end, finding McGillicuddy near center down the left side. The Massachusetts native then disposed of the lone UMass defenseman back with an outside-inside move, before beating Minutemen goalie Amber Greene with a backhand-forehand combo.

From there, at 3-1, the sense was largely that the next goal would swing things drastically. And the Lady Ice Lions would receive three significant opportunities to get that goal via consecutive power plays spanning from the 6:06 mark through the 17:08 mark. However, each misfired and crucially, UMass held things at 3-1 through 40 minutes.

The Minutemen would not let their own subsequent special teams opportunity pass.

With 8:45 remaining, defenseman Syd Foy was called for tripping, while head coach Jeremy Bean received a bench minor and was ejected for protesting the penalty. UMass then received a full 2:00 of a 5-on-3 advantage, which saw Sullivan grab her second goal of the evening. Olson added her own second two minutes later for an additional bit of insurance.

O'Connor's highlight, while coming after the game was more or less decided, was nevertheless special. With the Minutemen once again on a 5-on-3 advantage, Kate Lombardozzi cleared out to center after a Shannon save. O'Connor was the first to it and beat the defenseman down the left side with her speed, before lowering her shoulder to protect the puck and firing home on her backhand before the opposite defenseman could make her way across.

Shannon finished with 27 saves, while former World University Games goalie Greene had 16 on the other end.

The teams will conclude the weekend set on Saturday morning at 9:20 a.m.

Box Score

First Period
1. Massachusetts, Annie Lee (Sarah O'Sullivan), 7:55; 2. Massachusetts, Jojo Olson (Kelly Dolan), 6:42 (power play); 3. Massachusetts, Hannah Sullivan (Sarah O'Sullivan), 4:10.
1. Penn State, Trish Cierniak (2:00 high sticking), 15:21; 2. Penn State, Trish Cierniak (2:00 body checking), 7:02; 3. Massachusetts, Kelly DeMarco (2:00 interference), 1:25.
Second Period
4. Penn State, Sarah McGillicuddy (Trish Cierniak), 18:10.
4. Massachusetts, Meghan Lawler (2:00 tripping), 16:59; 5. Penn State, Crosby Deliman (2:00 high sticking), 15:54; 6. Massachusetts, Jojo Olson (2:00 interference), 15:14; 7. Massachusetts, Hannah Sullivan (2:00 roughing), 13:05; 8. Massachusetts, Meredith Gallagher (2:00 body checking), 4:52; 9. Penn State, Erin Bonner (2:00 interference).
Third Period
5. Massachusetts, Hannah Sullivan (Sandra Bienkowski, Sarah O'Sullivan), 7:53 (power play); 6. Massachusetts, Jojo Olson (Meghan Lawler), 5:45; 7. Penn State, Riley O'Connor (Kate Lombardozzi), 3:13 (shorthanded).
10. Penn State, Syd Foy (2:00 tripping), 8:45; 11. Penn State, Bench (2:00 unsportsmanlike conduct, served by Sophie Paolizzi), 8:45; 12. Penn State, Katelyn Trask (2:00 body checking), 3:53; 13. Penn State, Crosby Deliman (2:00 slashing), 3:31.
Penn State: Emma Shannon: L, 27 saves/32 shots. Massachusetts: Amber Greene: W, 16 saves/18 shots.

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Only Gone for a Minute, Man: Penn State Heads Back to Amherst

UMass' Kelly Dolan (left) and PSU's Dina Dubac (right) will renew acquaintances this weekend

Penn State (1-10-0/0-2-0 ECWHL) vs.
No. 8 Massachusetts (7-5-0/0-0-0 ECWHL)
Friday, November 17th at 7:50 p.m.
Saturday, November 18th at 9:20 a.m.
Mullins Center
Amherst, MA
The Lead
Penn State resumes ECWHL play and looks to get to a 2-2-0 conference mark during a second trip to UMass in three weeks

Game Notes

It's Always Gameday Somewhere: This weekend's games wrap up one of the busiest fall semester stretches in team history. Beginning with the October 28th-29th series at Mercyhurst, the Lady Ice Lions have been in action for four straight weekends and nine games in all, nearly half of the 22 total regular-season contests. Such stretches are not uncommon after winter break (Penn State played an identical one late last season, in fact), but are much less common during the season's first half that is generally interrupted by things like Thanksgiving break and major PSU home football games, which the team avoids when scheduling. The last fall semester run matching the present one in terms of both consecutive weekends and total games took place between October 20th and November 18th, 2007. Coincidentally, that cluster also involved four weekends and nine games, also involved a non-ACHA opponent (Cornell), and also involved a trip to a showcase at an ECWHL rival's rink (Rhode Island, to play the Rams, UMass and Nichols College).

On an Island: Last weekend's series against Rhode Island marked 2017-18's halfway point in terms of games played, as PSU has now completed 11 of the 22 scheduled regular-season contests. Goaltender Emma Shannon, so far has made 352 saves and logged 658:13 in goal. Projecting her final season total by doubling those numbers gives 704 and 1316:26, respectively, counts that would place Shannon among the most prolific single-season goalies in team history. The 704 saves would edge out Mary Kate Tonetti's 2014-15 for third pace by two, behind Meg Lydick (842, 2016-17) and Katie Vaughan (769, 2011-12). Meanwhile, 1316:26 would rank fifth behind those same seasons by Lydick, Tonetti and Vaughan, as well as Heather Rossi's 2009-10 and Tara Wheeler's 2003-04.

Getting There: Last Friday against URI, Sarah McGillicuddy's goal gave the Lady Ice Lions a 2-1 lead 4:01 into the third period, before Madison Balutowski tied things up for the Rams with 7:37 left and Monica Darby grabbed the winner with 2:55 remaining. Nevertheless, the outcome was measurable progress as the latest PSU has held a lead against a current ACHA Division 1 team (which excludes squads like Mercyhurst, Lebanon Valley College, Vermont and Northeastern) since January 16, 2016. In that contest, played at Liberty's LaHaye Ice Center, Penn State led then-No. 13 Colorado 4-3 into the dying stages of the third period. However, Buffs star Leah MacArthur fired the tying goal past Allyssa Long with just six seconds remaining and CU went on to win in overtime, thanks to Monica Patten.

Sarah Mac Attack: McGillicuddy, a Tabor Academy product, has scored four times with an assist in her first 11 games, which ranks among the best career starts by a freshman in recent memory. Her company in the category is rather impressive as well. In 2015-16, Meghan Miller and Caitlin Costello started their careers with a bang, as Miller logged four goals in her first six games, and October 2015 ACHA Rookie of the Month Costello posted a 7-4-11 line in 11 games before leaving the team after one semester. Riley O'Connor and Claire Gauthier headlined the 2014-15 freshmen, with O'Connor scoring her fourth and fifth goals in her tenth game en route to nine for the season, while Gauthier went 1-5-6 through her first 11 games before fully hitting her stride at that year's ACHA National Tournament with a trio of tallies.

The Opponent

Name: University of Massachusetts Amherst
Nickname: Minutemen
Location: Amherst, MA

Series History: Massachusetts leads, 26-13-3 (since 2002-03)

About Massachusetts: UMass, the three-time defending ECWHL champions, entered the season pointed towards a first national championship after falling two wins shy of the goal this past March, after a 1-0 loss to Liberty in the ACHA semifinals. Things started well enough in that regard, notably including an overtime win at now-No. 3 Michigan State on Jojo Olson's winner. A few routs of ACHA Division 2 opponents and tolerable losses at now-No. 1 Adrian were also a part of the early mix.

The Minutemen, however, were dealt a major blow a few weeks ago, via an upper-body injury to senior captain Brittani Lanzilli. Lanzilli's career, among the best in ACHA history, includes the 2015-16 Zoe M. Harris Award, the ACHA Division 1 scoring title in both that season and in 2016-17, and a bronze medal with the U.S. National University Team this past February. Another key absence is junior Katy Turner, who is presently studying in Hawai'i.

It's been a bit up and down since the Lanzilli injury, as UMass participated in a pair of showcases - one on their home rink that Penn State also attended, another last weekend at Robert Morris - and came out of them with a combined 3-3-0 record, including a loss to thirteenth-ranked RMU that saw the Minutemen cough up a late lead and surrender the winner with 33 seconds remaining.

Until they once again have a full lineup after the new year, UMass will rely on Amber Greene, arguably the ACHA's best goaltender, and a deep lineup to keep the squad afloat, in nationals contention, and primed for a late run. Olson, who enjoyed a breakout season as a sophomore and already has 11 goals and 16 points this year, is expected to help lead the way in that regard. Juliana Dolan, unrelated Kelly Dolan, Meghan Lawler, Shannon Nagle and Courtney Sullivan are also important pieces up front (Lawler had a goal and three assists in four games against PSU last season, trailing only Lanzilli and Olson among returning players). Club president Tatum Schulz and Meredith Gallagher capably anchor a blueline recovering from the graduation of former Team USA player Vicki Bortolussi.

Head Coach: Bill Wright
Goals Scored Per Game: 3.42
Goals Allowed Per Game: 2.58

Team Website: https://umasswomensicehockey.teamapp.com/

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Alumni Update: Ashton Schaffer


Hailing from Midlothian, TX - making her the only Texan in program history - Ashton Schaffer arrived in 2011 and played a contributing role on the 2011-12 ECWHL regular season championship team as a freshman. She became much more than that for the rest of her career, standing as a reliable, hard-nosed defensive defenseman and playing big minutes during one of the most successful stretches in program history. The Lady Ice Lions were the ACHA Division 2 runners-up in both 2012-13 and 2013-14, then followed up with an ACHA Division 1 national tournament appearance in 2014-15. The Schaffer-led defense, perennially among the nation's stingiest, was one of the biggest reasons for the run.

The November 2014 winner of the ACHA's Great Skate Sportsmanship Award was an alternate captain in 2013-14, then became one of just six players in program history to serve as captain during multiple seasons, doing so both in 2014-15 and 2015-16, through her graduation in December of 2015.

Major: Hospitality Management, with a minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Favorite Penn State hockey memory: "Probably beating Miami [a 4-3 upset of the top-ranked defending national champions on January 18, 2015 that snapped their 31-game unbeaten streak], I don’t know, I have so much adrenaline during games I kind of forget what happened afterwards."

Favorite Penn State non-hockey memory: "I think the funniest story I have is about Mary Kate [Tonetti] and I our freshman year. We were out with all the freshman, Lisa [Frank], [Katie Murphy], Paige [Harrington], Cara [Mendelson] and a few others I think. We were walking to McDonald's after a night out and MK seriously laid down on the sidewalk, I have zero clue why. Lisa and I were trying to get her up and failing miserably, a cop car starts to pull up and I am yelling at her at this point, so I left her and probably ran actually. Obviously we were all underage, and nervous about getting in trouble.

Anyway, like 30 minutes later Mary Kate strolls into McDonald's acting like nothing happened, classic drunk MK. She starts telling us that she was 'hanging out with this guy cop,' you'd have to ask her what his name was, it was something ridiculous and girl-sounding like 'Sydney,' I can’t remember. She is pretty much boasting at this point and said they made out and stuff, anyway I was so mad at her in the moment and told her to shut up or something, and that we could have gotten in trouble. She yells in the middle of McDonald's 'YOU’RE FROM TEXAS!' Don’t ask me why, but I was so mad we almost got into a physical fight and either Lisa or Paige had to pull me away. It is hilarious now, but I was really mad at the time."


Home: Southwest Florida

Career: "I am a Banquet Manager for Hyatt Hotels. However, I am studying to take the GMAT in hopes of getting into a grad school and earning my master's."

Outside of work: "I recently took an 18-day vacation and traveled across Europe [photos of Ashton in Ireland and England are below], the most amazing experience I have ever had. Overall, life isn’t crazy interesting, I feel like all I do is work. Adulting is hard!"

Current hockey involvement: "I'm hoping to make some changes and do more with hockey, since I am lacking it in my life at the moment."

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