|Carly Szyszko, Katie Vaughan, Allie Rothman and Elizabeth Denis have made an impact on and off the ice|
On Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in Pegula Ice Arena's varsity rink, a class of exceptional seniors will be honored prior to the final home game of the season, against College Hockey East rival California.
In addition to their significant and numerous accomplishments during their careers at Penn State noted below, the Penn State Women's Ice Hockey Club Class of 2014 deserves separate notable recognition along with their junior class teammates for keeping women's club hockey alive at Penn State in August of 2012, after they were left off of the NCAA roster. All had been significant contributors on the ice during the 2011-12 NCAA transition year and previously as members of the Lady Icers ACHA Division 1 team, and found out on very short notice they did not have a place to play last season. In just a few weeks’ time, the girls formed a new club, a schedule was put together consisting of 11 away games and only one home game, a coaching staff was found, and a small roster of 13 players was salvaged from students on campus and incoming freshmen.
Though the roster size was limited and no games were played on campus due to a cancellation, the team achieved through the organizational challenges and earned a bid to the 2013 ACHA Division 2 National Tournament as the fourth and final seed in the East Region. At the national tournament, the team of now 14 was really able to shine, defeating No. 1 seed University of Alaska and defending champion University of Wisconsin-Stout twice - finally losing to West Chester in the national championship game, the team's fifth game in four days.
The team has picked up this season right where it left off, and the luxuries of a full roster and home games have paid off, allowing the team to hold No. 1 in the ACHA rankings all season for 2013-14, as well as first place in the CHE league standings and a likely return bid to nationals. Equally of note, the team has continued its dedication to academic excellence, posting a fall semester cumulative GPA of 3.45. Eleven of 18 players made the Dean's List (3.5+ GPA as an undergrad), with another graduate student posting a GPA well in excess of 3.5. Two players also recorded perfect 4.0 GPAs.
Kim Badorrek is a current senior and will finish out her degree this fall while playing for the Women’s Ice Hockey Club. She transferred from the Altoona campus this year and although a first-year player, she has been a very welcome veteran addition to the team. Formerly a member of the respected Altoona Trackers and Team Pittsburgh Tier I programs, Badorrek played in many of the nation's top girls hockey circuits and has helped solidify an outstanding defensive group that allows on average one goal per game.
Coach Fung on Badorrek: "Kim is a local product from Altoona who played for the best teams in the Mid-American district and faced top level competition throughout the country. She has a high hockey IQ and brings steady reliability while handling the puck. She has the skill set and ability to play in all situations and is especially valuable on the power play and penalty kill. Kim brings an upbeat positive attitude to the rink with her every day and has been a great addition in creating an outstanding locker room environment."
Elizabeth Denis, or 'Z', as her teammates call her is the rare intersection of truly elite level academics and athletics. Formerly an NCAA Division I hockey player at Brown University, Denis left the hockey team after her sophomore year to concentrate on her academic endeavors and is a great example of how the ACHA continues to provide opportunities in hockey for young men and women from many unique paths in life.
Denis is a well pedigreed player who had outstanding hockey achievements by way of the storied Phillips Exeter Academy, Assabet Valley Girls Hockey and the Hockey Night in Boston circuit. A Ph.D. candidate in Geosciences at Penn State, she has 17 goals and 7 assists in 24 games during her career with the Women's Ice Hockey Club.
Coach Fung on Denis: "Z is one of those veterans who really makes coaching a young team a lot easier for me as a coach - her intelligence and experience makes her such a valuable member of the team. She is obviously a very talented, strong and smart player who makes significant contributions every time she touches the ice, but the leadership and presence she brings to our team especially in the areas of game preparation and prep is usually uncelebrated and unnoticed to the casual observer. Her extremely high level of academic and athletic achievement has been a huge factor in creating an atmosphere on this team that desires to be the very best. She is a great example of someone who has many gifts and has made her opportunities count."
A native of West Chester, PA, Allie Rothman came to Penn State from the West Chester Quakers program. A tall, rangy defenseman who plays in every situation, Rothman's presence is usually quiet, steady and consistent. She has a high hockey IQ and plays the game intelligently and efficiently; often logging over 30 minutes per game, while matched up against other teams' top lines. She has been a critical cog in Penn State's success each season and while stay at home defensemen often get overlooked in awards voting, her teams' defensive stats each season speak for themselves.
Coach Fung on Rothman: "Allie has been a quiet, steady presence throughout her career. A tall, rangy defenseman who plays in every situation, Rothman leads by example and also brings a very high hockey IQ to the locker room. While she does produce points, most games her contributions are not noticeable on the box score - the mark of a good defenseman. As a captain, Allie has played a crucial leadership role with young teams and creating both a great family atmosphere and desire to compete at the highest level possible. For a coach, it is a gift having players like Allie around who can play 30 minutes a game in every situation without needing much input. It has been such a pleasure watching Allie grow as a hockey player and into a young adult the last few years. It will be very difficult to replace her contributions to this team."
Bensalem, PA native and two-year captain Carly Szyszko is the quintessential teammate and leader for the program. A product of the esteemed NJ Colonials and Princeton Tiger Lilies programs, her well-traveled career brought her to PSU in 2010, where she made significant contributions as a freshman. An offensively gifted and intelligent forward who creates ice with her puck handling ability, Szyszko is a player who contributes in all situations: power play, penalty kill, goal lead, and goal down. Perhaps just as importantly, she has been the ideal captain for a young, growing team by working closely with other captains to create a loving family environment and leading the way for a talented and motivated group. Fittingly, she was named the team's Player's Player last year.
Coach Fung on Szyszko: "Last year in a scramble of uncertainties and imperfections to put together a season for this team, Carly was one of many perfect pieces to come together and fall into the right place for us. I believe her to be the perfect captain for this team, with the ability to understand and bring together a very young and diverse group of players; never saying too much, but always enough. I think Carly has been overlooked and underrated as a hockey player, but she has proven herself time and again as a relentless competitor who wins battles for pucks despite her size and will do anything to help her team win. Whether it be scoring a critical goal, outstanding work on the penalty kill or blocking shots, Carly does all things big and small for the team; including moving to center this season, and notably, playing goal for us against the two of the top ranked teams in ACHA D1 when Mo Stroemel took both of our goalies to the 2011 World University Games. It has been an honor to coach Carly through the years and watch her grow into the hockey player, young woman and leader she has become. Next year's team will have some very large shoes to fill when Carly graduates."
Katie Vaughan graduates this spring with arguably the most storied career in Penn State Women's Club Hockey history. She split time as a starter her freshman year and was one of two PSU goaltenders selected to the U.S. National University Team, leading the team to a fourth place finish at the 2011 World University Games in Ezrurum, Turkey. Vaughan took firm hold of the reins the next season, giving PSU a chance to win every game. Her star fully arrived in 2012-13 in going 8-4-0, with a 1.40 GAA and a 0.943 save percentage in a season where five of the team’s 14 games were played at nationals, in addition to a significant role with off-ice operations. She was All-American Honorable Mention and Second Team All-Tournament, while being the team's MVP.
Vaughan has written an outstanding final chapter this season, leading the team to its current league and ACHA leading record with her 8-1-2 mark, including a 1.11 GAA and a 0.944 save percentage. She was selected to the national university team for a rare second World University Games, and made history by backstopping the team to a bronze medal in Trentino, Italy in December, the first medal won by any U.S. team at the WUG with ACHA players.
Coach Fung on Vaughan: "There's not much that needs to be said about Katie Vaughan as a hockey player - she is a show stopper, and has repeatedly shown the ability to take over a game regardless of the matchup. She has been a critical cog of every one of her teams' success throughout her career; most notably last season's ACHA National Tournament run and this year's World University Games. I would be remiss if I didn't mention her work ethic and desire to compete at every practice - she pushes her teammates and challenges them to be better every day. It is an absolute pleasure to have a player and teammate so gifted and driven to succeed."