Penn State Returns to Action with Sunday Tilt Against Naval Academy

What: No. 12 Penn State (4-2-0 overall, 2-2-0 Eastern Collegiate Women's Hockey League) hosts Navy (4-3-0 overall, 0-1-0 Eastern Collegiate Women's Hockey League) in an ECWHL game

When: Sunday, November 2nd at 12:45 p.m.

Where: Pegula Ice Arena; University Park, PA

Notable: Penn State eases back into action after a two-week layoff with a Sunday-only meeting with fellow ACHA Division 1 newcomer Navy

Game Notes

Fall Break: Following a series at Massachusetts on October 10th and 11th, the Lady Ice Lions have enjoyed the last two weeks off prior to this weekend's game. The pause from a tough early slate is the second longest of the regular season - trailing only winter break - and precedes a stretch of nine games in six weeks (with only Thanksgiving weekend off) to close the fall semester.

DVCHCECWHL: Navy, in a practice not uncommon in minor hockey but rare at the college level, is playing this season as a member of two separate conferences: the ECWHL and the Delaware Valley Collegiate Hockey Conference, a circuit consisting mostly of ACHA Division 2 and non-ACHA clubs (past and future PSU opponent Slippery Rock and Liberty's D2 team, which helped open Pegula Ice Arena last season, are two others). The Midshipmen are a perfect 4-0-0 in DVCHC play so far this year after sweeping both Liberty and Maryland.

Ms. Zero...: Senior goaltender Mary Kate Tonetti, September's ACHA Warrior Goaltender of the Month, has five shutouts in her career. That number might not be eye-popping on first glance, but it becomes much more impressive when factoring in that she reached that number in just 11 recorded career appearances, 10 of which were starts (the six non-shutout appearances were against NCAA Division I teams Robert Morris and Sacred Heart in 2011-12, along with the four scored-on this season against Vermont, Delaware and Massachusetts). Katie Vaughan is the team's all-time shutout queen with eight, a number that seems to be in some peril with plenty of the season remaining.

...is Guarded by the Best: Shutouts are a team effort of course, and the Lady Ice Lions have proven to have one of the nation's toughest and stingiest defensive units, even at the Division 1 level. PSU has allowed just 1.5 goals per game this season, a stat that includes just four against in two games versus power program Massachusetts in the team's last game action. Perhaps just as impressively, the defense has only taken four minor penalties all season and has accomplished all of this without the services of injured standout Tara Soukup. Seniors Ashton Schaffer, Kim Badorrek, Madison Smiddy and Cara Mendelson headline the unit, while underclassmen Cassie Dunne, Sam Siciliano, Kelly Watson, Aubrey Vena and Rachel Reviello are showing that the D is in good hands for next year and beyond.

Milestone Watch: Devon Fisk's next goal will be the 40th of her career, while she needs two more points for 60... Fisk is already the Lady Ice Lions' all-time leader in goals and points, but needs just three more assists to tie Allie Rothman for the lead in that category... Vena, Reviello, Tarika Embar, Emma Embar and Hannah Dier are the team members still looking for their first career points, while Watson, Siciliano and Claire Gauthier have assists but not goals so far.

The Opponent

Name: United States Naval Academy
Nickname: Midshipmen
Location: Annapolis, MD

Series History: Penn State leads, 1-0-0. On January 13, 2013, the Lady Ice Lions sunk Navy 9-1 in Annapolis' McMullen Hockey Arena. Mandy Mortach led the way with four goals and two assists, while Taylor Nyman and Elizabeth Denis also scored in their first games with the team (Denis, of course, was previously a Lady Icer in 2011-12). Fisk (one goal, three assists), Tonetti (one goal, one assist), Soukup (two assists) and Carly Szyszko (one goal, one assist) also turned in multi-point efforts, while Vaughan and Sarah Eisenhut split the comfortable win in goal.

About Navy: Like Penn State, Navy is playing its first season at the ACHA Division 1 level. Prior to 2014-15, the Midshipmen spent most of their first five seasons as a non-ACHA team that occasionally ventured into Division 2, while winning the 2011 DVCHC championship. This season, the Midshipmen have lost each of their three games against D1 competition - although one was a narrow 2-1 decision to previous PSU opponent UMass - while continuing to dominate DVCHC competition in sweeps of Liberty's ACHA D2 team and Maryland. Star forward Abigail New has scored a team-high eight goals in the six games she's played, while Hannah Pereira torched UMD for three goals and three assists last weekend and is tied with New and Claire Clark with a team-high nine points overall. Georgia native Sarah Hutchinson has taken the bulk of the Middies' goaltending minutes against high-level competition.

Trivia: The Lady Icers were a member of Navy's other conference, the DVCHC, in 2002-03 and won both the regular season and playoff championships, defeating Pennsylvania in the title game. That was the first season the league sanctioned a women's championship but the only season Penn State participated, as the Lady Icers moved on to become a founding member of the ECWHL in 2003-04.

Head Coaches: Kimberly Himmer and Keith Himmer
Goals Scored Per Game: 4.43
Goals Allowed Per Game: 3.57

Team Website:

Penn State Lady Ice Lions: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Lady Ice Lions Drop From 11th to 12th in First In-Season ACHA Ranking

The Lady Ice Lions slipped to 12th in the latest ACHA rankings

Despite an encouraging start to its Division 1 era - four straight wins over Vermont and Delaware, followed by a pair of close losses to perennial powerhouse Massachusetts - the Lady Ice Lions fell from their 11th-place preseason slotting to 12th in the first in-season ACHA Women's Division 1 ranking of 2014-15, released late on Wednesday.

Defending national champion Miami remained on top of the poll thanks to their perfect 8-0-0 start, while 9-0-1 Liberty ousted 8-3-0 UMass from the second spot thanks largely to a head-to-head sweep in Lynchburg, VA in early October. ECWHL rivals occupied the next two spots, as the Minutewomen checked in at third, while Rhode Island was fourth. Michigan rounded out the top five.

Penn State and Vermont, which slotted 13th, rounded out the conference's presence in the top 15. The remaining ECWHL teams, Navy and Northeastern, both received votes but did not place.

The Lady Ice Lions have games remaining this season against each of the top four teams, including Miami on January 18th, 2015, Liberty on December 5th and 6th, UMass on January 10th and 11th, 2015 and Rhode Island on November 8th and 9th.

Generally speaking, the seven-member ACHA Division 1 ranking committee, the averaged vote of all Division 1 coaches and a newly-introduced computer poll are each responsible for one third of the ranking. However, the computers were omitted this time around due to the limited data available on some teams early in the season.

Overall record, strength of schedule, record versus ranked teams, games against common opponents, record versus the division and head to head performance are the primary considerations when determining how squads are slotted.

The next poll carries a cutoff date of November 23rd and will be released the following week, with other cutoffs coming on January 18th and February 22nd. The top eight teams in the February 22nd ranking will qualify for the ACHA National Tournament, held March 4th through 8th in York, PA.

Penn State returns to action on Sunday at 12:45 p.m. with a game against Navy at Pegula Ice Arena.

Here is the complete ranking (first-place votes in parentheses):

Miami (18)
Colorado State
Liberty (3)
Robert Morris
Rhode Island
Penn State
Grand Valley State
Michigan State
Others receiving votes: Ohio State, Navy, Lindenwood-Belleville, Midland, Wisconsin, Northeastern

Penn State Lady Ice Lions: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Fully Loaded: Lady Ice Lions Add Grad Student Chaby to Roster

The Lady Ice Lions have added graduate student Lauren Chaby to the roster, head coach Patrick Fung announced today.

Chaby has a diverse playing background beginning in 2003, including with the Central Penn Blades and a Hershey Junior Bears program that produced notable Lady Icers Kassidy Augustine and Chelly Deiling (she played with Augustine on the Bears), as well as former Lady Ice Lion Georgia Foulds. The Lancaster, PA native attended Clarkson University from 2007 through 2010 for undergraduate work in biology, psychology and chemistry while captaining the Golden Knights' club hockey team.

She also spent time at Air Force, where she played and helped out with coaching duties in the Falcons' program. Neither Clarkson nor Air Force are ACHA members, leaving Chaby's ability to play at Penn State now intact.

The left-handed shooting forward will wear number 10 for the Lady Ice Lions.

Chaby is a neuroscience Ph.D. candidate at Penn State while also pursuing a master's degree in ecology. Her academic chops, vast experience and track record as a leader combined with a rugged playing style will undoubtedly remind some of Lady Ice Lions alumna and geosciences scholar Elizabeth Denis, who exhausted her eligibility last season.

PSU, which sports a 4-2-0 overall record so far, is winding up its second-longest stretch without games this season - two straight weeks off, trailing only winter break - and returns to action in Pegula Ice Arena on Sunday against Navy. The team will then head back on the road the following weekend to face perennial powerhouse Rhode Island.

Penn State Lady Ice Lions: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

UMass Foils Late Lady Ice Lions Chances, Hangs On to Sweep Series

The Lady Ice Lions fell to Massachusetts for a second consecutive time on Saturday afternoon after Friday's 3-0 defeat, by a 1-0 score in Amherst, MA. With the loss, Penn State is 4-2-0 overall and 2-2-0 in the ECWHL, while second-ranked and 2014 national runner-up UMass is now 5-2-0 and 3-0-0 in ECWHL games.

Former Lady Icer Paige Harrington, now on the Minutewomen bench and as she did Friday night, opened the scoring. This time around, instead of an individual effort, it was a blast off of an offensive faceoff win with 8:43 remaining in the second period. Michaela Tosone and Brittani Lanzilli earned assists on the tally.

Unlike Friday night though, the senior defenseman's goal also closed the scoring. It wasn't for lack of opportunity, though.

In the minute before the Harrington goal, both Katie Murphy and Geneva Wagoner tried sharp-angle shots down the right wing. Murphy's rattled both of UMass goalie Kasey Zegel's pads but stayed out, while Wagoner's hit a defenseman's skate to force an outstanding save.

The Lady Ice Lions finished 0-for-2 on the power play (and 0-for-7 over the two games), including an agonizing 1:30 of a 5-on-3 advantage midway through the third period after Tosone was sent off for hooking and Victoria Bortolussi followed for tripping. The latter was particularly frustrating, as Claire Gauthier had worked her way behind Bortolussi and was in alone after taking from Darby Kern, but the infraction destroyed the chance.

UMass managed to kill off the long advantage to hang on to the lead after Zegel - who finished with 41 saves in her second consecutive shutout - was able to save a laser from Anna Marcus, shortly after her rebound try of Cara Mendelson's shot went wide.

Penn State's next numerical advantage came in the last minute of play, with goalie Mary Kate Tonetti pulled for an extra attacker. The Lady Ice Lions swarmed, led by Wagoner, Murphy, Kern and Devon Fisk, but Zegel was again up to the challenge, including on a Murphy drive from the low slot set up by Wagoner.

Tonetti finished with 54 saves to continue her rock-solid start to the season. Her 1.50 goals against average and 0.955 save percentage both rank among the division leaders.

PSU will now have two weeks off before returning to action on November 2nd against Navy in Pegula Ice Arena. In the meantime, the first in-season ACHA Division 1 ranking of 2014-15 (which has a cut-off date of October 26th) will be crystallized, with the Lady Ice Lions hoping that they've made a firm case for advancement from their present position in eleventh.

Box Score

First Period
Second Period
1. Massachusetts, Paige Harrington (Michaela Tosone, Brittani Lanzilli), 8:43.
1. Massachusetts, Paige Harrington (2:00 body checking), 16:40.
Third Period
2. Massachusetts, Michaela Tosone (2:00 roughing), 9:43; 3. Massachusetts, Victoria Bortolussi (2:00 tripping), 9:13.
Penn State: Mary Kate Tonetti: L, 54 saves/55 shots. Massachusetts: Kasey Zegel: W, 41 saves/41 shots.

Penn State Lady Ice Lions: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram