|Junior forward Darby Kern spent two seasons with the NCAA Division I Nittany Lions|
The Penn State Women's Ice Hockey Club is moving up a division for 2014-15, and as with many who face a significant challenge, it will count on help from some old friends.
Defensemen Cara Mendelson and Madison Smiddy, as well as forward Katie Murphy, all of whom played for the former Lady Icers program in 2011-12, will return to the ACHA and play for the WIHC as seniors this coming season. They'll be joined there by junior forward Darby Kern. All four were members of Penn State's NCAA team in 2012-13 and 2013-14.
Penn State senior Jess Desorcie, who also played for the Lady Icers in 2011-12 and the NCAA Nittany Lions from 2012 through 2014, will be added to the club's ranks as an assistant coach.
That final Lady Icers roster, featuring Mendelson, Smiddy, Murphy and Desorcie, as well as already-on-the-team Mary Kate Tonetti, Ashton Schaffer and Sarah Eisenhut, were the 2011-12 regular season champions of the Eastern Collegiate Women's Hockey League, the conference PSU is rejoining this coming season. Along the way to that crown, they went 7-6-1 against eventual national champion Northeastern, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Vermont, the squads remaining in the ECWHL from that year, defeating each of those teams at least once. The Lady Icers also registered a stunning 3-2 overtime upset of NCAA Division I Sacred Heart on January 14, 2012.
Smiddy, a product of the prolific Honeybaked program, played in 20 games for the Nittany Lions over the last two seasons. She posted a goal and seven assists, notably including a helper in Penn State's historic 5-3 road win against Vermont's NCAA team on October 6, 2012 to open PSU's stay in DI. Smiddy's 0.4 points per game over her two varsity seasons were 37 percent better than the next best blueliner on the team, while her ACHA totals included five goals and five assists, the second best points count among 2011-12 PSU defensemen. The latter efforts netted the Grand Rapids, MI native the Lady Icers' rookie of the year award.
Mendelson appeared in a pair of games for the varsity squad, both decisive Penn State wins, and she was an Academic All-Big Ten selection in 2012-13 as well as an Academic All-College Hockey America selection in 2013-14. As a freshman on the Lady Icers, the Steel City Selects alumna scored her first collegiate goal against rival California while adding three assists and contributing to a team 2.43 goals against average despite 11 games against NCAA competition.
Versatile Murphy skated 13 times for the Nittany Lions, all in 2012-13. Despite not registering a point, she played some of her best hockey in a home series against national power Mercyhurst that season, firing two of her four shots on goal over that weekend. Like Mendelson, Murphy scored her first PSU goal versus California as a freshman, adding assists against the likes of the Vulcans, Rhode Island, Vermont and NCAA DI's Sacred Heart.
Kern is the lone member of the group with no previous ACHA experience, as she was a freshman on the 2012-13 Nittany Lions and appeared in 18 of the team's final 21 games that year, picking up an assist against NCAA Division III Chatham and blocking 14 shots while managing nine on the opposite net. As both a freshman and a sophomore, she was named Academic All-College Hockey America. Prior to her arrival at Penn State, Kern played for the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite Tier 1 program as well as Peters Township High School.
Desorcie was recruited to the 2011-12 Lady Icers as a semester-break transfer from NCAA Division III Connecticut College and exploded from there, leading the squad with 19 goals. During the bulk of PSU's inaugural NCAA campaign, the Westford, VT native and Taft School alumna was the Nittany Lions' top-line center, ultimately finishing third on the squad in scoring. In all, Desorcie put up eight goals and 26 points in 75 career NCAA games as well as the 19 tallies and 24 points in 16 ACHA contests. She also joined Mendelson as a 2012-13 Academic All-Big Ten pick.
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