Penn State Uses Third-Period Burst to Win 2-1, Take Series from WCU

Jackie Saideh (8) and Ashton Schaffer (9) clamped down on West Chester Sunday

Third-period goals from Jackie Saideh and Geneva Wagoner gave the Women's Ice Hockey Club one more score on Sunday morning against West Chester than it had in Saturday afternoon's tie. Fortunately, one more was just enough, as Penn State took a 2-1 victory over the Golden Rams at West Chester, PA's Ice Line.

PSU is now 12-1-2 (7-1-2 College Hockey East), while WCU drops to 6-8-1 (3-4-1 College Hockey East).

The game, much like its deadlocked predecessor on Saturday afternoon, looked headed for a fate of extra time and split points through two periods, as neither team could dent the scoreboard. Penn State got more pucks on net - by a 17-9 count through 34 minutes - but West Chester had the benefit of dangerously close PSU penalties midway through the second period, interference calls to Nina Elia and Tara Soukup separated by just 44 seconds of even strength hockey.

Nevertheless, and thanks in no small part to penalty killers like Wagoner, Saideh, Devon Fisk, Carly Szyszko, Ashton Schaffer, Allie Rothman, Cassie Dunne and Kim Badorrek, the WIHC escaped the crisis to head to the locker room scoreless.

From there, the PSU offense finally clicked in a way that it hadn't all weekend. Following a save by Katie Vaughan (who finished with 14) on a Miranda Stueve blast, Szyszko won the ensuing faceoff and headed up ice with linemates Saideh and Elia. Captain Carly drove the middle, and the resulting scramble allowed Saideh to tap into a gaping cage for a vital first goal with 7:21 remaining in the game.

A tripping penalty against WCU's Maddie Callaghan allowed PSU to double its lead with 4:31 to go when Wagoner pumped one through from the left circle in transition from Fisk's setup.

It was hardly smooth sailing to the finish line, however.

Kirsten Baron broke Vaughan's shutout bid 66 seconds early with a shot low to the glove side and - despite not pulling goaltender Aly Golia - West Chester pressed hard for the equalizer. The Rams nearly got it too, as Vaughan was required to make a spectacular twisting stop on an airborne puck with 10 seconds left, allowing PSU to hang on for an important win.

Taking the series has a doubly-beneficial impact for the team, as it represented the WIHC's only two games before the third ACHA poll of the season, which has a voting cutoff of January 26th. Additionally, PSU's next games, at Pegula Ice Arena against California on January 31st and February 1st, will now provide the opportunity to clinch the College Hockey East regular season title.

Box Score

First Period
1. Penn State, Ashton Schaffer (2:00 body checking), 7:51.
Second Period
2. West Chester, Colleen Elvin (2:00 interference), 6:23; 3. Penn State, Nina Elia (2:00 interference), 8:40; 4. Penn State, Tara Soukup (2:00 interference), 11:24.
Third Period
1. Penn State, Jackie Saideh (Nina Elia), 9:39; 2. Penn State, Nina Elia (Geneva Wagoner, Devon Fisk), 12:29 (power play); 3. West Chester, Kirsten Baron (Emily Rice, Danielle Speroff), 15:54.
5. West Chester, Maddie Callaghan (2:00 tripping), 11:07.
Penn State: Katie Vaughan: W, 14 saves/15 shots. West Chester: Aly Golia: L, 31 saves/33 shots.