|Left to right: New captain Kelly Watson, alternates Anna Marcus, Lucy Yeatman and Cassie Dunne|
In the wake of the graduations of captain Jackie Saideh and alternate captains Nina Elia and Darby Kern, an all-new group of letter wearers is set to lead the Lady Ice Lions during the 2016-17 season, led by captain Kelly Watson.
Thanks to an extremely tight team vote to decide the roles, three additional players will serve as alternates, including Cassie Dunne, Lucy Yeatman and Anna Marcus.
Watson, an All-ECWHL second team selection as a sophomore in 2015-16, has quickly emerged as an anchoring blueliner for Penn State whose quiet leadership should stand as a great example as the Lady Ice Lions try to build a winning culture. Although she collected her first two career goals while helping pilot a sound PSU power play en route to a career-best 11 points this past season, her most impressive stat is actually the absence of a stat. Specifically, despite leading the team in ice time and drawing some of the nation's toughest assignments - six of ACHA Division 1's top ten scorers last season played for ECWHL opponents - Watson has yet to serve one second in the penalty box during her career.
She becomes the sixth player to wear the C in the post-2012 Lady Ice Lions era, following Carly Szyszko, Elizabeth Denis, Kim Badorrek, Ashton Schaffer and Saideh.
Dunne, a senior widely known to those ECWHL opponents as a tough-to-play-against agitator, will provide a vocal element to the leadership group. The quick puck mover has seven goals and 21 points in her three years with the team and has proven extremely adaptable in joining with significantly different defense partners like Marcus, Badorrek and Allie Rothman during her career. The leadership of the Wyndmoor, PA native and key part of PSU's prominent Princeton Tiger Lilies pipeline extends beyond the game itself, as she was also the club's vice president this past year.
Yeatman is another player who has had a tremendous impact off the ice, not only as club treasurer, but also as an elite student (she was retroactively given the team's freshman academic achievement award for 2013-14 in April). Her arrival that season signaled a transition of sorts, as a thin 2012-13 roster suddenly had a full lineup of quality players. While she generally plays the role of a defensive winger, Yeatman did offer six points to the ACHA D2 runners up as a freshman to make her one of the nation's top rookies and scored her first D1 goal on a deflection against Northeastern this past season.
Marcus, a reliable center as a freshman and sophomore, moved to defense this past spring after spending the fall semester studying abroad. Despite playing just half of the season and as a blueliner, she offered some of the best offensive production of her career. Her eight points were third best among full-time Lady Ice Lions defensemen, although her per-game rate of 0.5 points was exceeded by just five players on the squad, all forwards. Marcus is both strong defensively and one of the team's better shooters, an asset whether sniping from between the circles or generating high-danger chances in front of the net.
Three of the captains will also make up 75 percent of the club's executive board, headed by new president Dunne. Yeatman, considered the team's foremost mathematician, returns as treasurer, while Watson becomes the new THON chair, responsible for club fundraising events and family relations related to Penn State's famed Dance Marathon.
They'll be joined by new vice president Riley O'Connor who, per organizational custom, will rise to president as a senior in 2017-18. O'Connor, over her first two seasons, has already joined the ranks of the Lady Ice Lions' most prolific scorers. The team's 2014-15 Kyle Rossi Rookie of the Year award winner and an All-ECWHL honorable mention pick this past year has 42 career points, good for fourth in post-2012 team history (her first point in the fall will tie her with Szyszko for third). The tough-for-her-size center has anchored Penn State's top line for most of her career to date while also becoming a leader within the team - beyond the officer position, she narrowly missed out on alternate captain status, placing fifth in the voting.
Penn State Lady Ice Lions: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram