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Spectacular 2013-14 WIHC Season Closes Saturday With Team Banquet
The Penn State Women's Ice Hockey Club capped off a memorable 2013-14 season with its annual postseason team banquet on Saturday afternoon at The Atherton Hotel in State College.
The festivities included a buffet lunch, an address from head coach Pat Fung, tributes to the members of the senior class offered by teammates and an off-ice highlight video overflowing with locker room dancing and produced by sophomore forward Nina Elia. Team awards - both of the traditional variety, and the less formal paper plate honors - were also handed out.
The Maurice H. Stroemel Most Valuable Player award, named for the 2007-11 head coach that helped stabilize women's hockey at Penn State after some lean years and elevate the program to new heights, was given to both senior goaltender Katie Vaughan and sophomore forward Devon Fisk.
MVP honors are nothing new for Vaughan, who also won last season and prior to that with the ACHA Division 1 Lady Icers. She wrapped up her career - arguably the most decorated of any PSU women's player in history - this year with ACHA First Team All-American and All-Tournament selections, along with a bronze medal with the U.S. National University Select Team at the World University Games in Trentino, Italy. For the campaign, Vaughan posted a 15-4-2 record with a 1.30 goals against average, a 0.939 save percentage and three shutouts.
Fisk, who received team rookie of the year recognition a season ago, also was named for the ACHA All-American (second team) and All-Tournament (first team) squads. The matchup nightmare was again significant to the division leaderboards, thanks to her potting a team-best 20 goals - including four winners - and 30 points. Fisk was at her best during the ACHA National Tournament, as she scored six goals in five games, including both tallies in a 2-1 semifinal win over rival California.
For the second consecutive year, senior captain Carly Szyszko took the Billie S. Willits Player's Player award for the "player who best embodies success, honor, unity, team, family and leadership." Willits was a pioneer of women's hockey at Penn State, as she coached the Lady Icers during the team's formative years (including an ACHA third place finish in 2002) and remains a strong advocate for women's sports at the university today.
Szyszko, in addition to being a two-year captain, was instrumental in rebooting the club in the aftermath of the Lady Icers' transition to NCAA status in 2012. The Bensalem, PA native is the consummate leader on and off the ice, often changing positions - notably to goalie as a freshman, and more subtly to center as a senior - to alleviate team need, while also playing with her trademark toughness in all situations. Szyszko also has a nose for the net, tying for second on the team with 11 goals, including a hat trick on October 20, 2013 against Michigan State.
Geneva Wagoner was the Kyle Rossi Rookie of the Year, an award named for the squad's Hockey Information Director, although in theory she could have been rookie of the year for the entire division. Her 15 assists, 26 points and four game-winning goals were all best among ACHA Division 2 freshmen, and she complimented those offensive numbers with stellar two-way play as well. Among Wagoner's game winners: a deflection effort against Cal on October 12, 2013, the first-ever win by the WIHC over the Vulcans.
Next season, the 19-4-2 national runners-up will return up to 16 of its 20 players, including award winners Fisk and Wagoner, as well as 76 percent of its goal scoring production and five of six defensemen, all while adding an exciting freshman class to the quest for a first-ever national championship.
Posted by Kyle Rossi