Lady Ice Lions to Initiate 2015-16 Against Massachusetts, Northeastern

Darby Kern (left) and UMass' Meredith Gallagher will collide to open 2015-16

The Penn State Lady Ice Lions will begin the 2015-16 season, the team's second in ACHA Division 1 and the Eastern Collegiate Women's Hockey League, in a familiar location: Massachusetts, to take on hosting UMass and Northeastern.

Two games against the Minutewomen are scheduled for Friday, October 9th and Saturday, October 10th. Following the second tilt, the team will head east to historic Matthews Arena in Boston to battle the NU Huskies on Sunday, October 11th.

All three game times are still to be determined.

Against the 2013-14 ACHA runners-up and 2014-15 ECWHL regular season and playoff champions, Penn State went 1-3-1 last year. The advantage enjoyed by coach Bill Wright's squad in the season series came from an October, 2014 sweep at the Mullins Center by 3-0 and 1-0 counts. The teams then traded overtime decisions at Pegula Ice Arena to open the spring semester, with a Cara Mendelson strike on January 10th answered by UMass' Amy Morin the next day. Given the latter results, the 3-3 draw from the teams' meeting at the ACHA National Tournament on March 5th (featuring two more Mendelson goals) was less than surprising.

Things were a little smoother against Northeastern, to the tune of 4-0-0 - although the Huskies held the Lady Ice Lions to a pair of one-goal decisions in Boston last November, including one requiring a Madison Smiddy overtime bomb. Two regular-season-closing home games, however, ended in routs by a combined 17-2 count. Darby Kern and Devon Fisk led the way in that series, with Kern scoring an incredible seven times among her nine points, and Fisk adding four tallies of her own.

The Minutewomen finished 2014-15 with a 24-8-1 overall mark and the aforementioned conference titles and visit to nationals. Northeastern was 5-18-0, with their season ending in a victory over Navy in the fifth-place game of the ECWHL playoffs.

Stay tuned to psuwihc.com, as well as the Lady Ice Lions' Twitter and Instagram accounts, for the upcoming release of the full season schedule, as well as other exciting news, as the offseason winds down.

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Four Freshmen Set to Join Lady Ice Lions Roster for 2015-16 Season

Penn State Lady Ice Lions coach Patrick Fung has announced that four student-athletes have enrolled at PSU for the summer session and will join the squad in the fall. They are Caitlin Costello (Randolph, NJ), Madison Dwyer (Newtown, PA), Meghan Miller (Barrington, RI) and Liz Tuorinsky (Mt. Arlington, NJ).

Forward | Shoots Right | Randolph, NJ | New Jersey Rockets U19

Prior to Penn State
Costello is, most recently, a product of the New Jersey Rockets Tier I program, and played for their U19 and U16 teams. She was also with the New Jersey Colonials prior to that, and has made a total of five trips to the USA Hockey national championships. During the most recent of those trips, in 2015 and while teaming with classmate Elizabeth Tuorinsky, she tallied the shootout winner as the Rockets toppled the Anaheim Lady Ducks 1-0. Costello also factored heavily her team's qualification for nationals, scoring the only goal in the opening game of a best-of-three series to determine the Atlantic District title.

Caitlin Jeanne Costello was born on January 17, 1997 in Randolph, NJ to James and Doreen Costello and has two sisters, Jessica and Brianna. Although she is undecided on a major, she enjoys working with ceramics was an honor roll student in high school while also playing varsity soccer. A cousin, Bridgette DaSilva, was a student manager for the Penn State Ice Lions ACHA Division 2 men's team and for the ACHA Division 3 men's team at Penn State Altoona prior to her 2015 graduation.

Fung on Costello
"Caitlin was a pleasant surprise over winter break when I learned she had applied to Penn State while seeing Liz Tuorinsky play. In Caitlin we get a player with a significant Tier 1 playing resume who has played for some of the best coaches on the most talented teams in the Atlantic District. She played an outstanding supporting role with the Rockets last season, and contributed at seemingly the most opportune times, notably scoring a game winner at districts last season to send her team to nationals.

"Caitlin carries experience, instinct and a very high compete level and will flourish at Penn State with the chance to play a big role on both sides of the puck."

Defense | Shoots Right | Newtown, PA | Princeton Tiger Lilies U19

Prior to Penn State
Dwyer starred for both the Princeton Tiger Lilies and Council Rock North High School in Newtown. She helped the Tiger Lilies win the Atlantic District title and qualify for the USA Hockey Tier II national championships on three consecutive occasions, most recently with the U19 team in 2014-15 but also as a U16 player in both 2012-13 and 2013-14.

Madison Nicole Dwyer was born on August 26, 1997 in Newtown, PA to Mark and Mary Dwyer and has one brother, Mark, and one sister, Samantha. The consistent honor roll student intends to major in pre-medicine and enjoys playing guitar and singing.

Fung on Dwyer
"Madison is the latest in the line of additions to our team from the Princeton Tiger Lilies program. She brings the experience of multiple Atlantic District championships and corresponding USA Hockey nationals appearances with the Tiger Lilies as well as having played boys high school hockey.

"A stay-at-home defenseman, Madison offers versatility and a desire to compete to our team. We anticipate that her role will grow as she gains experience and develops at the college level, and that she will be a steady part of our defensive corps for the next four years."

Forward | Shoots Left | Barrington, RI | Barrington HS/Rhode Island Sting U19

Prior to Penn State
Miller played for the Rhode Island Sting Tier II U19 team in addition to Barrington High School. With BHS, she won state championships in each of her first three years, including tournament co-MVP honors as a sophomore after scoring twice in the championship-clinching victory. Miller grabbed a litany of other awards as well, including being named to the all-division team in every season as an Eagle and a nomination for a Rhode Island Cox Sports Award (given to the outstanding player in each high school sport) as a freshman. She was a frequent player in major showcases, including three years at Hockey Night in Boston and one at America's Hockey Showcase.

Meghan Elizabeth Miller was born on July 19, 1997 in Providence, RI to Gordon and Lisa Miller and has one brother, Stephen. She intends to major in education with aspirations of becoming a teacher. In high school, Miller was an academic and athletic dynamo, including membership in the Rhode Island Honor Society and qualification for honor roll every semester. She was a four-year starter on Barrington High School's field hockey team, helping the Eagles to a state championship as a freshman and earning all-division honors two times.

Fung on Miller
"Meghan comes to us from the competitive girls high school hockey circuit in Rhode Island and continues our trend of attracting New Englanders to Penn State. A three-time state champion with Barrington High School, Meghan brings a winning pedigree with her, having played a major role on each team, as well as with her amateur club, the Rhode Island Sting. Meghan has also participated in many competitive exposure events around the country including America's Showcase, and the storied Hockey Night in Boston.

"Meghan is a solid two-way forward who has a nose for the net and ability to finish in close - with skating ability to get there without the puck and attack in transition. I anticipate she'll frequent the scoresheet for us the next few seasons."

Defense | Shoots Right | Mt. Arlington, NJ | New Jersey Rockets U19

Prior to Penn State
Tuorinsky largely came up through boys hockey, playing for the New Jersey Freeze Tier II program and for Roxbury High School in Succasunna, NJ. With the latter, she earned the female Heart of the Gael Award for her class year of 2015 and helped the squad to a 23-19-4 two-year record along with a pair of state playoff bids in 2013-14 and 2014-15. The sturdy defender also played girls hockey for the New Jersey Rockets Tier I U19 team in 2014-15, along with Costello, helping the Atlantic District power qualify for the USA Hockey national championships.

Elizabeth Victoria Tuorinsky was born on February 25, 1997 in Hackettstown, NJ to Al and Linda Tuorinsky and has one brother, Alex. The intended Animal Science major and aspiring veterinarian was a National Honor Society member in high school.

Fung on Tuorinsky
"Liz was among the earliest of of our incoming class to contact last year. Her family is originally from the Centre region and studying Animal Science at Penn State has been her college goal for quite some time. On the ice, Liz played for the celebrated New Jersey Rockets Tier 1 program last year against some of the best competition in girls amateur hockey and helped them to yet another nationals appearance.

"Primarily, she is a very tough, strong and physical stay-at-home defenseman whose style has undoubtedly been influenced by playing boys AA and high school hockey all the way through U16. It's an underappreciated role that will be more critical this season after we graduated two veteran defensemen. She will fit well into our defensive group immediately, and we expect her to develop nicely as a puck mover to compliment her defensive game as we go."

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Captain Jack Joined by Elia, Kern as 2015-16's On-Ice Leadship Group

Jackie Saideh, Darby Kern and Nina Elia will wear letters for the Lady Ice Lions in 2015-16

Senior forward Jackie Saideh has been voted by her teammates as the Lady Ice Lions' 2015-16 captain, head coach Patrick Fung announced Thursday. The newly-minted fifth captain in squad history will be helped by alternates Nina Elia and Darby Kern.

For Saideh, the distinction is yet more confirmation of her vital leadership role within the club. In 2014-15, the Massachusetts native served as both its vice president and as an alternate captain. Now, her move to the president's chair for the coming season is matched with a similar escalation in her on-ice status. The most recipient of the team's Billie S. Willits Player's Player award has been a timely goal scorer since moving to forward as a sophomore - her 13 tallies since then trail only Kern, Devon Fisk and Cara Mendelson within the roster. Saideh is also a model defensive forward who always seems to be in the right spot at the right time. Those two qualities make her one of the Penn State's most adaptable players, an asset almost anywhere in the lineup.

Elia, like Saideh, is a founding member of the Lady Ice Lions, entering as a freshman in the 2012-13 inaugural season. At the end of that year, she supplied what will long be regarded as one of the team's most memorable moments: a double-overtime putback goal that boosted Penn State over defending national champion Wisconsin-Stout in the ACHA National Tournament semifinals. With the exception of the fall semester of this past season, during which Elia studied abroad, she has appeared in every game possible during her career. She was seventh on the team in scoring during her last full season, although the Skaneateles, NY native is best known for defense and toughness, along for her net-front presence.

Little remains unsaid about the 2014-15 that Kern put together, her first year as a Lady Ice Lion after two with Penn State's NCAA team. Kern's 61 points - in just 25 games - were the best of anyone in the nation, while her 34 goals trailed leader Carrie Jickling (Liberty) by one. The end result, appropriately, was Penn State's second-ever first team All-American pick at the Division 1 level (and the first since 2001-02), as well as a nomination for the Zoe M. Harris Award as the ACHA's player of the year. The winger's recognition haul also included the ACHA's Harrow Player of the Month award for January, ECWHL first team all-conference honors, and naturally, the team's Maurice H. Stroemel Most Valuable Player award.

Ashton Schaffer, who is set to spend the fall semester with the Lady Ice Lions before her December graduation, will retain the C that she wore during the 2014-15 through her remaining time on campus. Holding the captaincy during a second season places her into a rare category, as only Rachel Rieker (1996-98), Ellen Zajko (1998-2001), Katie King (2002-04), Sara Chroman (2010-12) and Carly Szyszko (2012-14) have held down the position for more than one campaign in the combined history of the Lady Icers and Lady Ice Lions.

Saideh, Elia, Kern, Schaffer, an exciting freshman class and the rest of the team will open a second D1 and ECWHL season just over four months from now, over the weekend of October 9th through 11th. The drive for Penn State's first-ever women's hockey national championship will conclude with the ACHA National Tournament in Kalamazoo, MI from March 2nd through 6th, 2016.

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Alumni Smiddy and Rossi Invited to Historic NWHL Free Agent Camps

Madison Smiddy was invited to a camp for the Buffalo Beauts of the newly-formed NWHL

Madison Smiddy and Heather Rossi are looking to take the next step in their hockey careers, and simultaneously take a step into the history books.

Smiddy, a newly-graduated Lady Ice Lions defenseman, and Rossi, who starred in goal for the Lady Icers from 2009 through 2011, were invited to free agent camps hosted by professional teams in the newly-formed National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) this month. Rossi's invite was from the New York Riveters on the 16th and 17th, while Smiddy was tabbed by the Buffalo Beauts for their skate on the 23rd and 24th.

Those camps, as well as ones hosted by the circuit's other two franchises, are a first step towards making it on to a 2015-16 NWHL roster.

Upon its launch this spring, the NWHL and founder/commissioner Dani Rylan made immediate headlines with the promise to pay players a minimum of $10,000 per year, up to a $270,000 salary cap for each team. The presence of salaries is an unprecedented departure from other North American women's hockey leagues, including the competing Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL), which recently completed its eighth season and includes five teams (four in Canada, one in Boston).

The inaugural NWHL campaign will feature 18 games per team beginning on October 17th and running through March. At the conclusion of the season, the four squads will compete for the Isobel Cup, which is named for Lady Isobel Gathorne-Hardy (née Stanley), considered to be among the first women to play hockey. Her love of the game is said to have inspired her father, Lord Frederick Stanley of Preston, to donate the famed Stanley Cup awarded to the National Hockey League's champion.

Smiddy, of course, wrapped up her collegiate career in 2014-15 with a stellar season highlighted by her selection to the U.S. National University Team that competed at the World University Games in Granada, Spain back in February. The product of the Honeybaked program starred overseas - despite sitting out of a stat-padding 9-0 rout of Spain, she finished tied for fourth in defense scoring and tied for 15th in plus-minus among all tournament players. That list included numerous entries from the senior national teams of countries like Russia and Japan, which recently finished fourth and seventh at the 2015 IIHF World Championships, as well as stars from Canadian university teams, a healthy source of the CWHL's talent.

In ACHA play, she fired home three game-winning goals among her ten points, including against defending national champion Miami on January 18th and in overtime at Northeastern on November 22nd, helping the Lady Ice Lions to Penn State's first Division 1 national tournament since 2010.

The Michigander dressed 20 times for PSU's NCAA team as a sophomore and junior, posting eight total points. Her rate of 0.4 points per game rate was 58 percent better than the next best Nittany Lions blueliner during that period.

Heather Rossi
Rossi had a collegiate career that could best be described as "nomadic." The Kunkletown, PA native played for the NCAA team at Robert Morris (PA) as a freshman in 2006-07 and posted a 0.911 save percentage in 11 games before moving on to then-ACHA program Lindenwood in 2008-09. She helped the Lions to their third of four national championships before finishing her career at Penn State.

While a Lady Icer, Rossi put together a spectacular 2009-10 season, collecting second-team All-American recognition while taking nearly 95 percent of the team's crease minutes and helping to power Penn State to its second ACHA National Tournament since 2004. On March 12, 2010, she blanked Liberty 1-0 for what is still PSU's last victory at the Division 1 tourney.

As a senior, she formed arguably the ACHA's finest goaltending tandem with Katie Vaughan, who would go on to star for the Lady Ice Lions from 2012 through 2014. Both were part of the first U.S. World University Games team in 2011, which finished fourth in Erzurum, Turkey. Rossi's 34-for-36 effort against a Finland team that included several players from the bronze medalists at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics like Michelle Karvinen, Saara Tuominen and Venla Hovi was arguably that squad's highlight.

Rylan will be the Riveters' general manager, while Linda Mroz will run the Beauts. Former NHLer Ric Seiling and Shelley Looney coached at the Buffalo camp, with 1998 Olympic gold medalist Looney recently serving as one of Smiddy's assistant coaches at the World University Games.

Smiddy and Rossi are two of a handful of ACHA players taking a shot at the pros. Lady Ice Lions opponents Hayley Williams (Miami) and Kristen Levesque (Rhode Island) - both of whom also joined forces with Smiddy on Team USA at the World University Games - each attended three camps, including those in New York and Buffalo, as well as one hosted by the Connecticut Whale on May 9th and 10th. Katie Keeports, a second-team All-American and a first-team All-Tournament pick at Delaware in 2009-10, was also present in Stamford, CT.

The NWHL's free agent camps are not a direct tryout for the teams, but they are an opportunity to get valuable exposure to management. Players have until August 17th to sign for the 2015-16 season, and signees can include those not in attendance at a free agent camp.

Should Rossi and/or Smiddy make the final cut, they would join a club of Penn Staters who have played professionally in North America that presently has a membership of just one: 1998-2002 Lady Icers superstar Andrea Lavelle. Lavelle signed with the Beatrice Aeros of what was also called the National Women's Hockey League (that NWHL, unrelated to the present NWHL, ran from 1999 through 2007 and is considered a forerunner to the CWHL) during the 2002-03 season. She played with a bevy of legends in her native Ontario, including Hockey Hall of Famer Geraldine Heaney and Olympic gold medalists Gillian Ferrari, Cheryl Pounder and Sami Jo Small. Despite that collection of talent, the Aeros lost to the Calgary Oval X-Treme in the NWHL's 2003 championship game.

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