One More for the Show: Penn State Dispatches Rival Cal in Semis

Devon Fisk and the WIHC upended Michelle Daley and Cal in the ACHA semifinals

After four regular season meetings, which ended split 2-2, and a hotly-contested College Hockey East title game, won 2-1 by the Vulcans, there isn't much left for rivals Penn State and California to learn about each other.

Regardless, as is always the case in hockey, there is plenty for teams to learn about themselves.

Devon Fisk scored two first period goals to provide just enough offense, while Katie Vaughan turned aside 20 shots in repelling a strong push over the final two periods, as the Women's Ice Hockey Club advanced to the ACHA national championship game for the second consecutive year with a 2-1 semifinal win over Cal on Saturday.

PSU will take on Iowa State, which withstood a late North Dakota State rally to take the opposite semifinal, on Sunday, looking to slay any remaining demons from a come-from-ahead loss to West Chester in last year's version. The team is now 19-3-2 overall, while Cal falls to 19-6-4.

From the opening faceoff through the opening 17 minutes, Penn State executed its game plan to perfection and stretched the Vulcans vertically. Alex Warren-Caldwell, along with linemate Carly Szyszko, Mary Kate Tonetti and Fisk all featured in early transitional opportunities.

Fisk's opening goal, with 4:08 left in the initial period, began as so many of her tallies do: with the sophomore outnumbered by the defense. Nevertheless, she was able to receive a pass from Tara Soukup and circle to the middle of the ice before firing home.

The newly-minted Second Team All-American doubled the Penn State advantage with just 12.7 seconds remaining, with another clean snipe, this time from the left-wing circle after taking a cross-zone feed from Allie Rothman.

From there Vaughan, along with the WIHC's excellent group of defensemen and defensively-responsible forwards, demonstrated tremendous resiliency and just enough to complete the task against the squad that has scored more often than any other in ACHA Women's Division 2 this season. Cal enjoyed a 14-4 shooting advantage over the final two periods, but was only able to manage one over the line.

Kelsey DeNardo, the division's second-leading individual scorer, trimmed the PSU lead to 2-1 early in the second period by pushing through a Hydn McDermott rebound that squirted out to Vaughan's left. That set up a wild half-hour sequence of defend and answer.

Adding several degrees of difficulty to the task: the last three penalty calls of the contest, all of which went against Penn State, and notably included a Szyszko hook with 2:59 remaining. However, penalty killers Rothman, Soukup, Ashton Schaffer, Geneva Wagoner and Nina Elia - along with Vaughan, of course - all starred to deny the final gasps of the Cal attack.

Box Score

First Period
1. Penn State, Devon Fisk (unassisted), 12:52; 2. Penn State, Devon Fisk (Allie Rothman), 16:48.
1. California, Hayley D'Hondt (2:00 slashing), 12:43.
Second Period
3. California, Kelsey DeNardo (Hydn McDermott), 1:41.
2. California, Team (2:00 too many players, served by Hayley D'Hondt), 5:04; 3. Penn State, Devon Fisk (2:00 holding), 7:02.
Third Period
4. Penn State, Kim Badorrek (2:00 interference), 3:24; 5. Penn State, Carly Szyszko (2:00 hooking), 14:01.
Penn State: Katie Vaughan: W, 20 saves/21 shots. California: Maria Sciacca: L, 14 saves/16 shots.