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Penn State Returns to Action with Sunday Tilt Against Naval Academy
What: No. 12 Penn State (4-2-0 overall, 2-2-0 Eastern Collegiate Women's Hockey League) hosts Navy (4-3-0 overall, 0-1-0 Eastern Collegiate Women's Hockey League) in an ECWHL game
When: Sunday, November 2nd at 12:45 p.m.
Where: Pegula Ice Arena; University Park, PA
Notable: Penn State eases back into action after a two-week layoff with a Sunday-only meeting with fellow ACHA Division 1 newcomer Navy
Fall Break: Following a series at Massachusetts on October 10th and 11th, the Lady Ice Lions have enjoyed the last two weeks off prior to this weekend's game. The pause from a tough early slate is the second longest of the regular season - trailing only winter break - and precedes a stretch of nine games in six weeks (with only Thanksgiving weekend off) to close the fall semester.
DVCHCECWHL: Navy, in a practice not uncommon in minor hockey but rare at the college level, is playing this season as a member of two separate conferences: the ECWHL and the Delaware Valley Collegiate Hockey Conference, a circuit consisting mostly of ACHA Division 2 and non-ACHA clubs (past and future PSU opponent Slippery Rock and Liberty's D2 team, which helped open Pegula Ice Arena last season, are two others). The Midshipmen are a perfect 4-0-0 in DVCHC play so far this year after sweeping both Liberty and Maryland.
Ms. Zero...: Senior goaltender Mary Kate Tonetti, September's ACHA Warrior Goaltender of the Month, has five shutouts in her career. That number might not be eye-popping on first glance, but it becomes much more impressive when factoring in that she reached that number in just 11 recorded career appearances, 10 of which were starts (the six non-shutout appearances were against NCAA Division I teams Robert Morris and Sacred Heart in 2011-12, along with the four scored-on this season against Vermont, Delaware and Massachusetts). Katie Vaughan is the team's all-time shutout queen with eight, a number that seems to be in some peril with plenty of the season remaining.
...is Guarded by the Best: Shutouts are a team effort of course, and the Lady Ice Lions have proven to have one of the nation's toughest and stingiest defensive units, even at the Division 1 level. PSU has allowed just 1.5 goals per game this season, a stat that includes just four against in two games versus power program Massachusetts in the team's last game action. Perhaps just as impressively, the defense has only taken four minor penalties all season and has accomplished all of this without the services of injured standout Tara Soukup. Seniors Ashton Schaffer, Kim Badorrek, Madison Smiddy and Cara Mendelson headline the unit, while underclassmen Cassie Dunne, Sam Siciliano, Kelly Watson, Aubrey Vena and Rachel Reviello are showing that the D is in good hands for next year and beyond.
Milestone Watch: Devon Fisk's next goal will be the 40th of her career, while she needs two more points for 60... Fisk is already the Lady Ice Lions' all-time leader in goals and points, but needs just three more assists to tie Allie Rothman for the lead in that category... Vena, Reviello, Tarika Embar, Emma Embar and Hannah Dier are the team members still looking for their first career points, while Watson, Siciliano and Claire Gauthier have assists but not goals so far.
Name: United States Naval Academy
Location: Annapolis, MD
Series History: Penn State leads, 1-0-0. On January 13, 2013, the Lady Ice Lions sunk Navy 9-1 in Annapolis' McMullen Hockey Arena. Mandy Mortach led the way with four goals and two assists, while Taylor Nyman and Elizabeth Denis also scored in their first games with the team (Denis, of course, was previously a Lady Icer in 2011-12). Fisk (one goal, three assists), Tonetti (one goal, one assist), Soukup (two assists) and Carly Szyszko (one goal, one assist) also turned in multi-point efforts, while Vaughan and Sarah Eisenhut split the comfortable win in goal.
About Navy: Like Penn State, Navy is playing its first season at the ACHA Division 1 level. Prior to 2014-15, the Midshipmen spent most of their first five seasons as a non-ACHA team that occasionally ventured into Division 2, while winning the 2011 DVCHC championship. This season, the Midshipmen have lost each of their three games against D1 competition - although one was a narrow 2-1 decision to previous PSU opponent UMass - while continuing to dominate DVCHC competition in sweeps of Liberty's ACHA D2 team and Maryland. Star forward Abigail New has scored a team-high eight goals in the six games she's played, while Hannah Pereira torched UMD for three goals and three assists last weekend and is tied with New and Claire Clark with a team-high nine points overall. Georgia native Sarah Hutchinson has taken the bulk of the Middies' goaltending minutes against high-level competition.
Trivia: The Lady Icers were a member of Navy's other conference, the DVCHC, in 2002-03 and won both the regular season and playoff championships, defeating Pennsylvania in the title game. That was the first season the league sanctioned a women's championship but the only season Penn State participated, as the Lady Icers moved on to become a founding member of the ECWHL in 2003-04.
Head Coaches: Kimberly Himmer and Keith Himmer
Goals Scored Per Game: 4.43
Goals Allowed Per Game: 3.57
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Posted by Kyle Rossi