CHE-MPIONS! PSU Tops Cal 3-1 as Senior Class Drives League Clincher

Kim Badorrek's third-period assist was crucial to PSU's clinching the CHE title on Saturday

The Women's Ice Hockey Club's Senior Day ceremony prior to Saturday's game - the final contest of the season at Pegula Ice Arena - honored a class of five whose contributions to the team on and off the ice during their respective careers defy measurement. The group then took exactly 51 minutes of game time to add a league crown to their glowing collective resume.

Goals from graduate student Elizabeth Denis and senior Carly Szyszko sandwiched one by junior Mary Kate Tonetti in support of senior Katie Vaughan's 30 saves as Penn State defeated California 3-1. With the win, PSU clinched the inaugural women's regular season championship of College Hockey East and will face fourth-place Delaware in the CHE playoff semifinals on February 21st.

Denis, on the game's first shift (one that featured all of the seniors), got things started by beating Cal goalie Maria Sciacca through the five hole 52 seconds from puck drop. The geosciences scholar's fellow starters were headed back to the bench on a change, but she carried a pass from Devon Fisk in herself and snapped the puck through to give the WIHC a lead it would never relinquish.

Tonetti continued the bright start just over five minutes later and made the score 2-0 by depositing a loose puck around Sciacca from in front, with a well-placed Taylor Nyman screen creating space.

Second-ranked Cal had no intention of letting Penn State run the show all evening, however, and came out firing in the second period. Aided by the fact that all three penalties in the frame went against PSU, the Vulcans enjoyed a 13-2 advantage in shots over the middle 17, but thanks to the heroics of Vaughan, only one got through. That came with 9:28 left, on a delayed call to Allie Rothman for roughing in front of the net, when leading scorer Kelsey DeNardo chipped into the PSU cage. The home team ultimately won the rest of the struggle though, killing the Rothman call and holding the lead into intermission.

Penn State's third goal, which restored a degree of safety to the last 11:04 of the contest, was an illustration of how many players can contribute to scoring, even if only one assist is given. Tonetti started the sequence on the forecheck, and got her stick on a D-to-D pass to create a turnover. She and her linemates followed that up with pressure low in the Vulcans zone, leading to Nyman drawing a roughing penalty after being blasted near the Cal net by the Vulcans' Hayley D'Hondt. On the ensuing power play, Szyszko deflected a Kim Badorrek blast home for her tenth tally of the season.

A stout defensive effort, led not only by seniors Badorrek and Rothman, but also by junior Ashton Schaffer and freshman Cassie Dunne, neutralized the CU attack the rest of the way, including through a late penalty to Emma Dickson that could have produced a much more dramatic finish to the affair.

The WIHC will be back in action next Friday, February 7th, when the team travels to Slippery Rock for the final game of the regular season, ahead of the CHE and ACHA tournaments beginning on February 21st and March 13th, respectively.

Box Score

First Period
1. Penn State, Elizabeth Denis (Devon Fisk), 0:52; 2. Penn State, Mary Kate Tonetti (unassisted), 6:18.
1. California, Megan Cooper (2:00 interference), 8:33.
Second Period
3. California, Kelsey DeNardo (Megan Cooper, Alli Paratore), 7:32.
2. Penn State, Kim Badorrek (2:00 tripping), 0:38; 3. Penn State, Mary Kate Tonetti (2:00 tripping), 5:04; 4. Penn State, Allie Rothman (2:00 roughing), 7:32.
Third Period
4. Penn State, Carly Szyszko (Kim Badorrek), 5:56 (power play).
5. California, Melissa Heisler (2:00 holding), 1:46; 6. California, Hayley D'Hondt (2:00 roughing), 4:43; 7. Penn State, Emma Dickson (2:00 hooking), 10:10.
Penn State: Katie Vaughan: W, 30 saves/31 shots. California: Maria Sciacca: L, 17 saves/20 shots.