CWHL's Boston Blades Select Dunne in Sunday's League Entry Draft

Penn State graduate Cassie Dunne's quest to play professional hockey will officially extend at least into September, as she was selected by the Boston Blades in Sunday's Canadian Women's Hockey League Draft.

Although it was largely a formality given the nature of the CWHL Draft - all who register are selected and are allowed to designate the team or teams they would be willing to join - the event still crystallizes Dunne, who registered back in June, as the first Penn Stater ever to have her rights held by a CWHL team. She is also just the fifth player from the ACHA to be drafted by or play for a CWHL team.

From here, the defenseman and the other Blades' other 24 draftees will be invited to try out for the 2013 and 2015 Clarkson Cup champions next month.

Dunne's Penn State career, among the most decorated and successful in team history, concluded this past season with the Wyndmoor, PA native serving as both an alternate captain and the club's president. Her senior year was her best in many respects - despite missing four games, she was second on the squad in goal scoring while setting program records for power play markers over both a single season and a career.

In December of 2016, she was selected to the 2017 U.S. National University Team that competed at the World University Games in Almaty, Kazakhstan, eventually being named a co-captain of the squad and helping lead it to a bronze medal. At the end of the year, she collected ACHA Academic All-American and ECWHL First Team All-Conference honors, and was a finalist for ACHA All-American selection.

She arrived at Penn State in 2013-14 from the noted Princeton Tiger Lilies program and immediately became a cornerstone of PSU's excellent defense group, as the Lady Ice Lions advanced to the ACHA Division 2 national championship game to close her freshman season, then to the ACHA Division 1 national tournament in 2014-15.

Other ACHA alumni picked in the CWHL Draft, which dates to 2010, include Rhode Island's Sydney Collins and Kristen Levesque by the Blades last year, with Levesque going on to play for the team in 2016-17. Additionally, Liberty's Sarah Stevenson was the highest-ever selection of an ACHA player at the event, as the Toronto Furies picked her in the fourth round, 17th overall, in 2015. Hayley Williams (Miami/Robert Morris), while not drafted into the league, played for the Brampton Thunder in 2016-17.

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BLOG: 2017-18 Schedule Unveil

Running updates on the 2017-18 schedule as the games are announced

August 18, 2017 | 12:51 a.m.

Following the brutal opening stretch of four games against last year's two national championship game participants, the Lady Ice Lions will enjoy a week off before visiting ACHA Division 2 team Mercyhurst in Erie, PA on October 28th at 2:00 p.m. and October 29th at 12:00 p.m.

Mercyhurst is a brand new squad this season, so the personnel is a mystery and the history has yet to happen. One of the few known quantities around the Lakers is that long-time MU men's ACHA team coach and manager Tom McKinnon has overseen the development of the program. McKinnon, who began with the men's team in 2005, has led Hurst to three ACHA National Tournament appearances at the Division 1 level: 2006, 2012 and 2016. With that sort of top-level stability and the growing amount of hockey talent available in western Pennsylvania, there's little doubt that the Lakers have the ability to become a very strong team in time.

From the Penn State side of things, Mercyhurst offers a leisurely in-state road trip, a luxury that has been non-existent since the team's return to ACHA Division 1 in 2014. While the 2012-14 Division 2 era offered conference tilts with commonwealth foes California and West Chester (along with barely-out-of-state Delaware), PSU has only played six away games in Pennsylvania or a bordering state since then. Five took place in 2014-15 - a regular season weekend trip to Ohio State and Miami, followed by three games at the ACHA National Tournament in York, PA - and they were joined this past February by a contest in Hershey, PA against NCAA Division III's Lebanon Valley College. If nothing else, the weekend will offer one of the east's hardest-traveling teams a respite from the 12-15 hours on a bus a road series typically entails.

Meg Lydick made 173 saves against Liberty last season

August 14, 2017 | 7:31 p.m.

After opening the campaign at home with defending national champion Miami, the Lady Ice Lions will hit the road to battle the only other team to win an ACHA Division 1 title since 2012-13: Liberty. The Flames, one of Penn State's most familiar opponents, have also been more or less undisputed as the nation's second-most-successful team in recent years. Beginning with that 2012-13 season and their championship game loss there, Liberty has been in the ACHA semifinals for five consecutive seasons, including the 2014-15 title.

Game times are set for October 14th at 6:00 p.m. and October 15th at 11:00 a.m. from Lynchburg, VA's LaHaye Ice Center.

Liberty's status is one PSU knows all too well, as the blue and white has not defeated the Flames' D1 squad since January 28, 2012 when Jess Desorcie scored four times in a 5-1 victory (it's important to note, of course, that Penn State spent the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons in ACHA Division 2, artificially inflating that timeline). Since then, there have been plenty of moments - arguably and at times, the Lady Ice Lions have challenged LU more than any team besides Miami - but zero wins in the last ten tries. Included in that run are a heartbreaker at 2015 nationals where Penn State held a late lead until the eventual champs tied the game with 5:46 remaining, before winning with 35 seconds to go in overtime and, more recently, a stretch of four games this past January and February when a struggling PSU squad produced surprisingly competitive scorelines and showed that it is perhaps ready to turn a corner.

Since last season, LU has endured a major change, as Paul Bloomfield (the team's only head coach in its 11 seasons) stepped down and was replaced by the Liberty men's D2 team's coach, Chris Lowes.

Lowes will inherit what can still fairly be called a young team. While this coming year's freshmen have not been announced yet, last year saw a school-record 13 rookies, who are now sophomores. On the more veteran side, speedster Lauren McDonald (LU's leading scorer last season) is expected back, as are two remaining key cogs to the team's recent success in forward Chelsey Greenwood (who scored the tying goal in the aforementioned 2015 ACHA National Tournament game) and All-American defenseman C.J. Tipping.

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Penn State Adds Six Outstanding Incoming Freshmen For 2017-18

Penn State Lady Ice Lions coach Patrick Fung has announced the addition of six freshman student-athletes to the squad for the 2017-18 season. They are Mikaela Walker (Reston, VA), Crosby Deliman (Pittsburgh, PA), Sydney Haykel (Westlake Village, CA), Sarah McGillicuddy (Hanover, MA), Emma Shannon (Downingtown, PA) and Erin Bonner (West Chester, PA).

"This is perhaps the best freshman class we've had in a while, not in size, but in substance," Fung said. "They're tough, seasoned competitors. Several come from outstanding winning programs, but the common theme is that they're all extremely hard working and fearless hockey players. Every one of them is an academic standout and carries a diploma from an outstanding prep schools or a highly-ranked high schools."

"This class has the ability to rewrite most of our program records as a group."

Forward/Defense | Shoots Right | Reston, VA | Reston Raiders 19U

Prior to Penn State
Walker skated with the Reston Raiders in 2016-17, helping the squad to the USA Hockey Southeastern District's Tier II 19U championship and, eventually, a sixth-place finish at the USAH National Championships in Troy, MI. Prior to her season with the Raiders, she spent four with the Montgomery Youth Hockey Association's Blue Devils, an organization whose notable alumni include former Lady Icers goaltender Gena Goldbaum. One highlight of Walker's time with Montgomery came on their 16U squad in 2014-15, when she helped the Blue Devils to the Chesapeake Bay Hockey League title and scored a championship-clinching empty net goal from the opposite goal line.

Mikaela Grace Walker was born on August 25, 1999 in Fairfax, VA to Rob and Mariella Walker and has one older sister, Anya. She has extremely deep Penn State and athletic roots, as her father, grandmother - Edith Isacke, one of the first women in the Penn State Blue Band - and three other relatives either have or are working on PSU degrees. Walker's mother, meanwhile, played volleyball at NCAA Division III's Juniata College. The Schreyer Honors College student intends to major in international politics with a minor in Arabic, with the goal of going into the intelligence community upon graduation. To that end, she participated in the FBI's Future Agent in Training program over the summer prior to her senior year of high school and has also run up impressive academic achievements, including graduation from South Lakes High with honors (indicating a grade point average of 4.0 or better), qualifying as a Governor's Early College Scholar, and membership in both the National Honor Society and National English Honor Society. Walker also can play the ukulele and captained South Lakes' JV soccer team as a senior.

Fung on Walker
"Mikaela is a versatile, hard-nosed competitor who comes to us from the Reston Raiders program. She can play both forward and defense, and has a relentless desire to compete. She is a teammate you want in the trenches next to you and will help this team take the next step back towards nationals. Mikaela comes from a Penn State family and has wanted to attend for the several years we have been in contact. I have no doubt she will take full advantage of every second of her time here."

Forward | Shoots Right | Pittsburgh, PA | Pittsburgh Penguins Elite 19U/Shady Side Academy

Prior to Penn State
Deliman played for both Shady Side Academy and the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite Tier I program (the latter being particularly notable as a PSU pipeline, with alumni including former stars like Tess Weaver and Darby Kern). Shady Side won the Women's Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic (WIHLMA) championship in each of Deliman's last three years there, 2015, 2016 and 2017. The first of those, during her sophomore season, came with an overtime win against five-time defending champion Morristown-Beard School on SSA's home rink, while the most recent came partly thanks to Deliman's All-WIHLMA Second Team and All-WIHLMA Academic Team season as a senior. With Pens Elite, she also had a healthy amount of success with one of the USA Hockey Mid-Am District's top programs: she won a 19U district title in 2015-16 and one at the 16U level in 2014-15. Deliman then proved herself against the nation's best at the subsequent USAH nationals appearances with PPE by posting five points in seven games over the two tournaments.

Crosby Beatrice Deliman was born on October 9, 1998 in Pittsburgh, PA to Maribea Crosby and Kevin Deliman who (along with his five siblings and their father) is a Penn State graduate, while Kevin also wrestled for the school's nationally-elite NCAA program. Crosby, beyond her hockey exploits, is also an accomplished track and field athlete. She competed at the Pennsylvania state championships in the 4x100-meter relay as a senior and helped the quartet set a new SSA-record time, in addition to her individual school record in the triple jump. The mechanical engineering major hopes to eventually work in the automotive industry and enjoys 3D art as well as wood and glass work.

Fung on Deliman
"Crosby is a well-experienced player who worked her way up through the Tier 1 ranks, coming to us from the celebrated Pens Elite program. She also played on the dominant team in her high school league, Shady Side Academy. She is a big-framed forward that uses her size well and competes hard, and will make an impact on our lineup as a player who fits our identity and makes us better on both ends of the ice right away."

Forward | Shoots Right | Westlake Village, CA | California Titans

Prior to Penn State
Haykel, just the fourth documented player in team history (since 2000-01) hailing from outside of the Eastern Time Zone and the second from the state of California, has a rather unconventional playing background. With no all-girls teams within three hours of her Westlake Village home, she played bantam for the Ventura Mariners boys team. Later, although she was not allowed to play for the California Titans program as a girl, she regularly practiced with the organization's Tier I 16U and Tier II 18U boys teams, while also receiving private instruction from the 16U squad's renowned coach, Brett Beebe. Haykel has also received high-end instruction elsewhere, including through camps at the famed Shattuck-St. Mary's School in Fairbault, MN.

Sydney Elizabeth Haykel was born on May 18, 1999 in Los Angeles, CA to Charlie and Michelle Haykel and has one younger brother, Drew. The anticipated advertising and public relations or marketing major excelled as a student and as an athlete at La Reina High School. Haykel's academic accolades include National Honor Society membership (graduating with top honors), recognition among the top 100 scholars in Ventura County, CA by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Scholars Foundation, graduation with top California Scholarship Federation honors, and the 2017 La Reina High School Citizenship Award, which is given to one graduating student each year for citizenship in and out of the classroom. It more or less goes without saying that she also made honor roll during every year of high school and graduated with honors. Haykel played libero on La Reina's volleyball team during her freshman and sophomore years, helping the Regents go undefeated and win their division title in each season.

Fung on Haykel
"Coming to us all the way from California, Sydney played boys hockey up until checking was introduced and has since been relegated to practicing with local boys teams without any girls teams nearby. In addition, she worked with Brett Beebe, one of the top skills coaches in the area. She has had to pursue the game in order to continue playing and will flourish at Penn State with our program and facilities."

Forward | Shoots Right | Hanover, MA | Tabor Academy

Prior to Penn State
McGillicuddy attended and played for Tabor Academy, one of the powerhouse programs in New England prep school hockey. The Seawolves had a four-year record of 71-18-10 from 2013-17, including 19-5-2 during McGillicuddy's senior year of 2016-17. Tabor qualified for the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) Division I playoffs (which only include eight teams) at the end of the season, but lost to Noble & Greenough in the quarterfinals. In addition to her school team, McGillicuddy was also a long-time member of the Bay State Breakers' well-regarded Tier I program all the way through to, most recently, their 19U squad that went 17-12-4 last season.

Sarah Jean McGillicuddy was born on February 12, 1999 in Boston, MA to Laura and Andrew McGillicuddy and has three siblings, Danny, Peter and Christina. Each of her parents were college athletes, as Laura played tennis at Babson College and Andrew played both football and lacrosse at former ECWHL member school Bates College. McGillicuddy, for her part, was also an accomplished athlete at Tabor, as a member of the field hockey and crew teams in addition to her hockey exploits. The intended English major also excelled away from sports as an honor student, and enjoys being in the ceramics studio during her free time.

Fung on McGillicuddy
"Sarah comes to us from a stout Tabor Academy team that had half a dozen NCAA commitments and played in hands-down the best prep school league in the country. She is a tough, no-nonsense player with rough talent from playing in that league and worked very hard to elevate herself to NEPSAC play. She will fare very well in the ACHA and play a major role in this team's continued growth."

Goaltender | Catches Left | Downingtown, PA | Downingtown East HS

Prior to Penn State
Shannon tended goal for Downingtown East High School in the Inter-County Scholastic Hockey League (ICSHL). She was the primary starter for most of her career, including as a senior when she helped the Cougars to six wins, four via shutout. In her junior year, 2015-16, Shannon posted a career-low 2.34 goals against average in ICSHL games and was a Daily Local News all-area team honorable mention but that year, as in others, she tended to be at her best in big games. That 2015-16 campaign closed with a Downingtown East run to the Flyers Cup (the eastern Pennsylvania championship) final, with Shannon taking first team all-tournament honors in defeat thanks largely to her 35 saves against powerful Unionville in the final. While Unionville won seven of eight Flyers Cups from 2009-10 through 2016-17, the exception came in 2013-14 when Shannon (who started both tournament games) and the Cougars toppled the Indians for the title.

Emma Nicole Shannon was born on May 10, 1999 in West Chester, PA to Megan and Tim Shannon and has one brother, Kevin. Both Megan and Tim, along with several of Shannon's aunts and uncles, are Penn State graduates, and Shannon hopes to join them with a degree in mathematics and a minor in biology - with the idea of later attending medical school and becoming an emergency room physician. As a certified EMT, she has already successfully pursued one goal in the medical industry.

Fung on Shannon
"Emma solidifies our goaltending group. A big-framed goalie who frequently skated with her school's boys teams for more challenge and speed, she has the ability to develop into a standout at the ACHA level. Emma is a standout student as well with medical school aspirations, and will fit perfectly among our great team academics."

Forward | Shoots Right | West Chester, PA | Philadelphia Jr. Flyers 17U/West Chester East HS

Prior to Penn State
Bonner played for the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers Tier 1 program, helping their 17U team to a winning record in 2016-17 while competing against some of the best programs in both the U.S. and Canada, as well as a first place finish in the Mid-Atlantic Women's Hockey Association standings. Along with the Jr. Flyers, Bonner also played at West Chester East High School, where she teamed up with once-again-teammate Sophie Paolizzi for two seasons. Bonner dominated the Inter-County Scholastic Hockey League (ICSHL), leading the Vikings in scoring for all four years (and finishing third in the entire ICSHL as a junior and senior), winning team MVP honors, and totaling 103 goals and 150 points in just 65 league games. She led WC East to the Flyers Cup final in 2016-17 while topping the tournament with six goals. She was also a two-time all-area team selection, as named by the Daily Local News.

Erin Emily Bonner was born on February 2, 1999 in West Chester, PA to Andrew and Jane Bonner and has two siblings, Gillian and Peyton. She intends to major in veterinary and biomedical sciences and comes from a long line of Penn Staters - father Andrew, an aunt and an uncle are all alumni, while Gillian, her twin sister, is joining her as an enrolled student at PSU. In high school, Bonner was a member of both National Honor Society and National French Honors Society, and she enjoys music in her free time.

Fung on Bonner
"Erin is a gritty and skilled two-way forward who isn't afraid of the ugly areas of the ice. She comes to us from a great team of coaches at the Junior Flyers and played in some of the most competitive AAA circuits available to girls over the last two seasons. She will be a great addition to our revamped forward lineup."

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Red October: Penn State to Open Season with Defending Champ Miami

Penn State stunned No. 1 Miami in the only previous meeting between the teams

Generally, teams play for the national championship at the end of the year. Penn State, while no exception, will now also have a national championship-level series to kick off the season.

On October 6th and 7th, the Lady Ice Lions will drop the puck on 2017-18 by hosting three-time ACHA national champion Miami at Pegula Ice Arena. The RedHawks' titles include 2013-14, 2015-16 and last season, when MU defeated Liberty in the final in Columbus, OH.

Game times are still to be determined.

PSU has only faced Miami once before, but it was one of the most memorable contests in team history. On January 18, 2015 in Oxford, OH's Goggin Ice Center, the blue and white stunned the RedHawks by a 4-3 count. Defenseman Madison Smiddy scored the game's opening and closing goals, the latter coming on a 5-on-3 advantage with 3:16 remaining. Jackie Saideh and Riley O'Connor had the other two Penn State markers, Darby Kern was credited with a trio of assists, and Mary Kate Tonetti made 33 saves.

The magnitude of the victory is fairly easy to communicate. MU was first in the rankings (and had been since the beginning of the previous season) and coming off of its first national title. Furthermore, the RedHawks were on a 31-game unbeaten streak (dating to January 24, 2014) and a 25-game unbeaten streak at home (dating to October 18, 2013). Their roster featured the reigning Zoe M. Harris Award winner (future NWHL and CWHL professional player Hayley Williams), the reigning ACHA National Tournament MVP (Kaley Mooney) and the reigning ACHA Coach of the Year (Scott Hicks).

Williams, Mooney, Hicks and three other Miamians were picked for the 2015 U.S. National University Team, which departed for the World University Games in Spain one week after the game. In summary, it's fair to argue that the result had a lot to do with why Penn State qualified for the ACHA National Tournament in 2014-15, the first season of the team's return to ACHA Division 1.

Both rosters have changed quite a bit since then, of course. O'Connor and Tarika Embar are the only Penn Staters remaining who participated in the game, while Miami just graduated arguably the most decorated class in ACHA history including Mooney, who went on to win her own Zoe M. Harris Award last season, three-time World University Games pick Katie Augustine (the only American owner of two WUG hockey medals ever, as she was on both the 2013 and 2017 bronze medal squads), 95-goal-scorer Rachael Booth, underrated team captain Izzy Smith and two-time All-American goalie Emalee Wills.

Expected key returners for the RedHawks include defenseman Nicole Matthews, who had two points in the 2014-15 PSU-MU meeting, and former NCAA Division I recruit Ireland Mooney, Kaley's sister. Hicks has developed a deserved reputation as one of the nation's best recruiters and will undoubtedly enter the year reloaded, likely with the top rankings position in hand, and with sights set on the ACHA's first three-peat since Lindenwood ran off a trifecta from 2008 through 2010.

The Lady Ice Lions are 1-3-0 since 2014-15 against defending ACHA Division 1 national champions, with the Miami win followed by three losses to 2014-15 champ Liberty two seasons ago.

Improving that record would signal, even after the season's first weekend, that Penn State is primed for a return to its place among the ACHA's elite.

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