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Preview: Penn State Closes Regular Season with Contest at Slippery Rock
What: Penn State (No. 1 ACHA WD2 East Region, 13-2-2 overall, 8-2-2 College Hockey East) visits Slippery Rock (No. 6 ACHA WD2 East Region, 7-10-0 overall, 7-4-0 Delaware Valley Collegiate Hockey Conference) for a non-conference game
When: Friday, February 7th at 9:00 p.m.
Where: Bladerunners Ice Complex; Warrendale, PA
Notable: PSU closes the regular season looking to solidify its poll position and maintain momentum heading into the College Hockey East and ACHA tournaments
Championship Glow: Last Saturday's 3-1 Senior Day win over California clinched the inaugural women's regular season title of College Hockey East. The WIHC finished its first run through a conference schedule with an 8-2-2 mark and will face fourth-place Delaware (presently 0-8-2 in CHE) in the league playoff semifinals on February 21st, with a win advancing the team to the championship game against Cal or West Chester the next day. The CHE title is the fifth regular season conference championship in the history of women's club hockey at Penn State, with the WIHC now hoping to add to tournament wins in 2000 and 2003.
Peeking Ahead: The next stop after CHEs - with a bid now all-but-officially locked up - will be the ACHA National Tournament, held March 13th through 16th in Newark, DE. Nationals will have a similar format to last year: the top four teams in the East and West Regions will participate, with each team playing the three opposite-region opponents outside of its seeding band in a preliminary round over the first two days of the tournament (should Penn State retain its number one ranking, for example, the WIHC will play the squads ranked 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the west, while the 3rd seed in the West Region would play 1, 2 and 4 from the east). After those games, the teams with the four best records, regardless of region, will advance to the semifinals on the 15th.
Ladies Byng: PSU is one of the lesser-penalized teams in ACHA Women's Division 2, collectively sitting in the box for 5.35 minutes per game - sixth lowest in the nation, and second lowest among those presently ranked in the top four of the East or West Regions (behind Alaska's 5.0). Slippery Rock does even better, averaging 3.43 penalty minutes in their seven ACHA games this season, second in WD2. Only two Penn Staters - Tara Soukup and Geneva Wagoner - have hit double digits in the category on an individual level.
Dev the Destroyer: Sophomore forward Devon Fisk netted both of Penn State's goals in Friday's series opener with California, the tenth multi-goal game by the WIHC this season and the fourth by Fisk personally. Including last season, PSU has 16 individual multi-goal games, with Fisk responsible for six (including a four-goal game vs. Slippery Rock on December 9, 2012 and hat tricks on November 3, 2012 vs. Maryland and September 28, 2013 vs. Liberty). Her 12 goals this season lead the team and are tied for seventh best in the division.
Chart Toppers: Despite one of the nation's toughest schedules - 12 of 17 games have come against teams presently in line for a nationals bid, with three others against the current fifth and sixth place teams in the East Region - PSU continues to place several players among the ACHA statistical top ten, in addition to Fisk. Senior goaltender Katie Vaughan is second in goals against average (1.40), third in wins (9) and first in save percentage (0.934), while classmate Carly Szyszko is tied for third with three power play tallies. Mary Kate Tonetti and Jackie Saideh each have a pair of game-winning goals to rate third in the category. Freshman Wagoner tops all rookies in assists (11), points (20) and game-winning goals (3), with the latter number also placing her first overall. Her assist and point counts are both good for tenth overall. Lucy Yeatman and Cassie Dunne are tied for ninth among freshmen with six points each, with Dunne's five assists good for fifth. Anna Marcus, meanwhile, is tied for fourth on the rookie boards with four goals and tied for fifth with seven points.
Name: Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania
Location: Slippery Rock, PA
Series History: Penn State leads, 2-0-0. The first meeting of the pair came on December 9, 2012 in Altoona, the first home game in WIHC history, with PSU topping SRU 8-0 behind four goals each from Fisk and Mandy Mortach, and pairs of assists by Tonetti and Ashton Schaffer. Earlier this season, on November 22nd, Penn State topped the Pride 7-2. Dunne (one goal, two assists) and Szyszko (two goals, one assists) combined to give the WIHC a 3-0 lead nine minutes in before Tonetti, Schaffer, Soukup and Marcus scored to finish the blowout.
About Slippery Rock: Sixth-ranked SRU has been a textbook tale-of-two-seasons team. On one hand, the Pride has been quite successful in their home DVCHC, with a 7-3-0-1 (W-L-T-OTL) league mark, good for second place in their division despite a pair of home losses to Villanova last weekend. Out of the league, against some of the top teams in ACHA WD2, the results haven't been as good (the game at PSU in November was actually quite tame compared to an aggregate 4-54 score in four losses to Cal). Forward Christy Pastucha - a former teammate of PSU's Vaughan and Kim Badorrek with the Tier 1 Team Pittsburgh program - stars with 40 goals and 12 assists this season. Kristin Bielewicz, who joined Pastucha in scoring against the WIHC in the season's first meeting, and Laura Anderson are other players to watch with 26 and 31 points, respectively.
Trivia: Slippery Rock won the only two championships of the women's edition of the Crab Pot Tournament by defeating American and Maryland on September 18, 2010 and then again in reverse order on October 8-9, 2011. While the women's version didn't gain a foothold after that, the men's Crab Pot, hosted by Navy, is one of non-varsity hockey's great traditions, dating back to 1978. Penn State's former ACHA Division 1 team, the Icers, was the tournament champion in 1982, 1985, 1986 and 1987 while the current ACHA Division 2 team, the Ice Lions, will play in the 37th Crab Pot against Navy, Towson and Lehigh this weekend. Several members of the current SRU squad (Pastucha, Lacey Allis, Chelsea Heath, Amanda Brawley, Emily Whiteman) played on the Pride's women's Crab Pot teams, but so did current Cal forward Dana Bowersox, who notably was involved in a fight with PSU's Soukup last Friday.
Head Coach: Mike Harshman
Goals Scored Per Game: 5.50
Goals Allowed Per Game: 7.13
Posted by Kyle Rossi