Alumni Update: Nina Elia


One of Penn State's freshmen as the team was forced to rebuild in 2012-13 following the reorganization of PSU hockey, Nina Elia quickly became known as a gritty glue player who would do anything for the team. On the ice, the Skaneateles, NY native is perhaps best remembered for her double-overtime goal in the ACHA semifinals against defending Division 2 national champion Wisconsin-Stout on March 9, 2013 - the first goal of her life in any context - and for the fact that she never missed a game during her career, save for one semester studying abroad. Elia, an alternate captain as a senior in 2015-16, actually did score one other game-winning goal against a defending national champion during her career. The latter tally helped PSU get revenge on West Chester for the 2013 ACHA final on January 19, 2014, delivering a third Lady Ice Lionswin with a tie in four 2013-14 meetings between the teams.

Major: Health Policy and Administration, with a minor in Economics ("hi Lucy Yeatman")

Favorite Penn State hockey memories: "1. Kim [Badorrek]'s third senior night in a row, when she finally decided to leave (joking); 2. The game-winning goal against Wisconsin-Stout; 3. My sophomore year when we went to the championship game versus Iowa State. Before the game my dad gave me a pep talk, and I'll never forget it. We lost that game, but that stuck with me. Shoutout to my parents who went to nearly every game; 4. Playing on Blue Line with Carly [Szyszko] and Jackie [Saideh]."

Favorite Penn State non-hockey memories: "1. Ohio State versus Penn State [football] in 2016 - me Kim and [Kim's eventual husband] Will [Boger] freezing our butts off, but Will cried when Penn State blocked the field goal; 2. Blue and White tailgate weekend every year; 3. Rookie Night 2012, 2013, and 2015; 4. Studying abroad in Italy in 2014."


Home: Skaneateles, New York

Career: "I work at Upstate University Hospital as a Clerical Specialist in Ophthalmology. Those are a lot of big words that just mean that I work at a hospital in an eye clinic/eye trauma center doing registration, quality, and data reporting. It's a foot in the door for the healthcare industry."

Outside of work/current hockey involvement: "Other than work, I spend the rest of my time in either in the rink or with my personal trainer. I coach a 14U Tier I girls travel team, the Syracuse Nationals. Coaching was what I always wanted to do, really - I found a bucket list I made 10 years ago and the first thing on that list said 'head coach of a girls team.' This is the dream. Here are some fun facts about the team:
  • I was an assistant coach with the 12U girls last year, and a handful of the girls moved up to be on the team this year with me.
  • We won silver in our first tournament of the year at the Oshawa Fall Classic in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.
  • My assistant coaches are Jeff Grinnals and Allisa Coomey. Does that name sound familiar? It should. Allisa's twin sister Allison Coomey is an assistant coach for Penn State's NCAA team. Small world!
  • The girls are talented, funny, and very coachable and excited to learn. We are focusing a lot on systems work and skills. Honing our forecheck, neutral zone regroup, d-zone coverage, power play (both overload and umbrella), and penalty kill, while still drilling passing, shooting, and edge work.
  • They come from all over central New York to play - a lot of girls drive over an hour to get to practice.
  • Our schedule is highly competitive. We play in Canada, Philadelphia, Providence, Albany, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and many other places."

Here are photos of Nina with her team (click to enlarge):

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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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