All The Drama in Less Time: Lady Ice Lions Complete Sweep of NU

Claire Gauthier had two assists in Sunday's win

It's often said that nothing worth having comes easy. If the converse is true, then the Lady Ice Lions' two hard-fought wins over Northeastern this weekend, a task completed with a 3-2 victory Sunday morning in Matthews Arena, are just about priceless thanks to a tough trip up to Boston and a brutal bit of scheduling - combined with the feeling of heading into Thanksgiving break at 9-3-0 overall and 6-3-0 in the ECWHL.

Things got off to a bright start for the Lady Ice Lions as, just 41 seconds into the game, Devon Fisk buried a rebound of a Katie Murphy high-slot blast off a turnover from the left of NU goalie Anne-Marie Dion.

For that brief moment, it looked like Sunday morning might turn out very differently from Saturday's series-opening slog-fest, despite a 7:30 a.m. puck drop after the first game ended around midnight - a situation that resulted in a hurried hotel breakfast and a rink arrival without time for the customary dryland warmup.

That was an illusion, however.

Northeastern hung around through a 15-7 Lady Ice Lions shooting advantage in the first period and an equally-sharp early-second-period stretch that included a pair of PSU power plays. Shortly after the second (from a Katie Walsh trip of Fisk) ended however, Suzanne Friedman tied the contest up. On the play, Mary Kate Tonetti made an initial save on Michelle Macchione but was drawn off to her right by the shot, allowing Friedman to chip the puck past the senior goalie's shoulder.

Cara Mendelson put Penn State back ahead with just 50 seconds remaining in the middle frame, a goal finishing a passing play involving Claire Gauthier and Jackie Saideh. Mendelson snuck low in the zone, towards the middle of the left wing circle, to receive, then managed to finish a spectacular effort while being knocked over.

Tara Soukup seemingly put a bow on the game with a point drive, fed by Gauthier, that went iron and in with 7:06 remaining in the contest. However, the Huskies pulled it right back on a Macchione power play try that bounced over Tonetti 1:20 later, with Fisk serving a slashing infraction.

Four minutes after Penn State looked to comfortably close out the sweep thanks to Soukup, and 160 seconds after the Macchione goal, Darby Kern was sent off for body checking with 3:05 remaining. Gauthier gave that penalty kill a premature end by drawing a tripping call, but a last-minute hooking penalty to Fisk combined with NU pulling Dion for an extra skater offered several nail-biting chances for the Huskies. Tonetti - who finished with 29 saves - and the defense stood tall though, securing PSU's fourth consecutive win and a first-ever sweep of Northeastern, after the former Lady Icers program went 2-5-1 in its history against the red and black-clad opponent.

After a week off from games (although not from news, as the ACHA's second in-season ranking is expected out in the next few days) the Lady Ice Lions will return to action with a fall-semester-closing series at second ranked Liberty on December 5th and 6th, with puck drops set for 6:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. in Lynchburg, VA.

Box Score

First Period
1. Penn State, Devon Fisk (Katie Murphy), 0:41.
1. Northeastern, Ally Healy (2:00 high sticking), 1:10.
Second Period
2. Northeastern, Suzanne Friedman (Ally Healy, Michelle Macchione), 12:38; 3. Penn State, Cara Mendelson (Claire Gauthier, Jackie Saideh), 0:50.
2. Northeastern, Katie Walsh (2:00 tripping), 15:53; 3. Penn State, Riley O'Connor (2:00 tripping), 0:18.
Third Period
4. Penn State, Tara Soukup (Claire Gauthier, Riley O'Connor), 7:06; 5. Northeastern, Michelle Macchione (Kelsey Hickey, Suzanne Friedman), 5:46 (power play).
4. Penn State, Sam Siciliano (2:00 cross checking), 9:48; 5. Penn State, Devon Fisk (2:00 slashing); 6. Penn State, Darby Kern (2:00 body checking), 3:05; 7. Northeastern, Katie Walsh (2:00 tripping), 2:06; 8. Penn State, Devon Fisk (2:00 hooking), 0:55.
Penn State: Mary Kate Tonetti: W, 29 saves/31 shots. Northeastern: Anne-Marie Dion: L, 39 saves/41 shots.

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