Served Cold: PSU Blanks Rams

Elizabeth Denis' first period goal opened Saturday night's scoring

It was a regular season game in November, perhaps not an even exchange for March's ACHA national championship final that saw West Chester defeat Penn State 5-2. But for now, Saturday night's 3-0 win over the Golden Rams will stand in just fine as payback.

Elizabeth Denis and Geneva Wagoner scored 1:11 apart late in the first period and Nina Elia added a third-period clincher in support of Katie Vaughan's 17-save shutout, as PSU (6-1-0, 2-1-0 College Hockey East) remained unbeaten at Pegula Ice Arena with the stirring victory.

The Women's Ice Hockey Club, which had waited eight months for a redemption shot at West Chester (5-3-0, 2-1-0 College Hockey East), came out firing from puck drop and largely dominated the first period, including 11 consecutive shots to close out the frame after the Golden Rams registered the first three.

Denis supplied the first breakthough, the eventual winner, with 3:45 remaining on a delayed cross checking call to Colleen Elvin, who planted PSU's Taylor Nyman in the high slot. The geosciences scholar scooped up the loose puck resulting from the collision behind everyone, then dangled around WCU netminder Aly Golia to bury.

Shortly after, Wagoner - ACHA Women's Division 2's top-scoring rookie - doubled the advantage when she collected the puck just inside the line on the left side and fired home through traffic. The unassisted tally increased her 2013-14 point total to a team-high nine but more importantly, it gave PSU a margin for error entering the second period.

Of course, the WIHC also held a 2-0 lead in last season's title game before things went wrong. This affair, though, was a much different story.

The Rams were more offensively prolific in the middle 17 minutes, forcing 10 saves from Vaughan. However, Penn State matched that total on the other end and was also able to minimize WCU's shot quality while shutting down reigning ACHA Player of the Year Becky Dobson, thanks to outstanding efforts from a defense corps led by Cassie Dunne, Ashton Schaffer, Allie Rothman, Tara Soukup and Kim Badorrek.

Soukup and Dobson were central figures of a pivotal moment late in the second period of a match that saw a growing chippiness. Following a Vaughan save and freeze with 3:04 remaining, things boiled over when a scrum developed in front of the PSU crease. Soukup, who was near the initial play and Dobson, who wasn't, ended up swinging at each other, resulting in matching fighting majors and game misconducts.

For West Chester, the loss of the ACHA's leading scorer damaged their third period comeback attempt, as the Golden Rams only managed four shots after the second intermission. One, though, was a Lindsay Howard try while all alone in front two minutes in, but Vaughan got her right pad to it just in time to complete perhaps the most spectacular save of the evening.

Minutes after that, Elia scored her first goal of the season in a high-zone pattern similar to Wagoner's early tally, off of a pass from Dunne to further seal the result.

Penn State and West Chester will face off again on Sunday evening at 5:30 p.m. in Pegula Ice Arena's varsity rink.

Box Score

First Period
1. Penn State, Elizabeth Denis (unassisted), 13:15; 2. Penn State, Geneva Wagoner (unassisted), 14:26.
1. Penn State, Devon Fisk (2:00 tripping), 5:26; 2. West Chester, Cat Corcoran (2:00 body checking), 10:24; 3. West Chester, Colleen Elvin (2:00 cross checking), 13:15; 4. West Chester, Colleen Tweedy (2:00 unsportsmanlike conduct), 14:45.
Second Period
5. Penn State, Tara Soukup (2:00 roughing), 2:50; 6. West Chester, Colleen Elvin (2:00 body checking), 5:34; 7. West Chester, Cat Corcoran (2:00 high sticking), 9:25; 8. Penn State, Geneva Wagoner (2:00 high sticking), 11:04; 9. West Chester, Becky Dobson (5:00 fighting), 12:56; 10. West Chester, Becky Dobson (game misconduct), 12:56; 11. Penn State, Tara Soukup (5:00 fighting), 12:56; 12. Penn State, Tara Soukup (game misconduct), 12:56; 13. West Chester, Cat Corcoran (2:00 body checking), 15:55.
Third Period
3. Penn State, Nina Elia (Cassie Dunne), 5:22.
14. West Chester, Maria Gibson (2:00 body checking), 11:44.
Penn State: Katie Vaughan: W, 17 saves/17 shots. West Chester: Aly Golia: L, 32 saves/35 shots.