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Penn State Attempts to Scale Mount Rhody in Weekend Set
What: No. 12 Penn State (5-2-0 overall, 3-2-0 Eastern Collegiate Women's Hockey League) visits No. 4 Rhode Island (4-3-0 overall, 3-1-0 Eastern Collegiate Women's Hockey League) in an ECWHL series
When: Saturday, November 8th at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, November 9th at 11:00 a.m.
Where: Bradford R. Boss Ice Arena; Kingston, RI
Notable: Penn State plays its second series of the year against one of the ACHA's top five teams and seeks a rankings-shaking upset
Kerny's Made Off: Thanks largely to a six-point outing against Navy (three goals, three assists), junior forward Darby Kern has vaulted among the scoring leaders in ACHA Division 1. Her nine goals are tied for ninth in the nation, while her 16 points overall are tied for tenth. Impressively, those numbers have come in fewer games (seven) than many of the leaders, and as a result, Kern's 2.29 points per game trail only reigning Zoe M. Harris Award (given to the national player of the year in each ACHA women's division) winner Hayley Williams and Rachael Booth, both of national champion and top-ranked Miami. Her scoring total is already tied for the sixth-best season in the Lady Ice Lions' short history, with Devon Fisk's 30 points last year well within Kern's crosshairs.
...But So Have Others: Speaking of the ACHA's statistical leaders, Fisk and goalie Mary Kate Tonetti also figure prominently on the lists. Tonetti's three shutouts this year are tied for the national lead, while her goals against average (1.28) and save percentage (0.960) rank ninth and fourth, respectively. Her six career goose eggs are just two behind Katie Vaughan's program record. Fisk, who extended her Lady Ice Lions record with a 40th career goal last Sunday, is 26th in Division 1 with 11 points but has played fewer games than every player in front of her except Kern and Colorado State's Molly O'Neil.
Save The Puck: Against Navy, Claire Gauthier scored her first collegiate goal. The Sandwich, MA native became the second freshman to get her first tally this season joining Riley O'Connor, who scored on October 5th against Delaware. Freshmen Sam Siciliano and Kelly Watson have also grabbed their first career points through assists.
Debutant Ball: Firsts last weekend didn't only come through scoring, as graduate Lauren Chaby and junior defenseman Tara Soukup played their first games in 2014-15. Soukup, of course, has been a standout of Penn State's blueline, leading the team's defense in scoring last year and taking all-tournament honors at the ACHA National Tournament. Ph.D. candidate Chaby joined the team last month and adds grit and depth at center. The two put the Lady Ice Lions at close to full strength heading into the showdown with the Rams, although Nina Elia remains out for the semester while she studies abroad.
New England's Getting Old: Penn State is in the midst of a grind of a schedule to close out the fall semester, beginning with last Sunday against the Naval Academy and continuing this Saturday and Sunday against Rhode Island. In all, the Lady Ice Lions will play nine games over six weekends through the first weekend in December - including road trips to Kingston, RI, Boston, MA and Lynchburg, VA - with only Thanksgiving week away from game action. The stretch includes four away games against two top four opponents in fourth-ranked URI and number two Liberty (December 5th and 6th).
Name: University of Rhode Island
Location: Kingston, RI
Series History: Tied, 0-0-0. The current Lady Ice Lions program has never faced URI, although the former Lady Icers struggled mightily with the Rams, to the tune of a 6-34-1 mark. During the Lady Icers' heyday under coach Billie Willits in 2000-01 and 2001-02, PSU won the first four games of the series, but the tables flipped drastically once both teams joined the ECWHL in 2003. The next Penn State win wouldn't come until Mo Stroemel's tenure as coach, during the 2010-11 season and helped by Lady Ice Lions alumni Carly Szyszko, Allie Rothman and Katie Vaughan. Current team members Tonetti, Ashton Schaffer, Cara Mendelson, Katie Murphy and Madison Smiddy, as well as alumni Sarah Eisenhut and Elizabeth Denis and current assistant coach Jess Desorcie, joined the first three for the another PSU win in January, 2012.
About Rhode Island: Rhode Island is one of the perennially dominant teams in ACHA Division 1, having qualified for 11 straight national tournaments, including a fourth place finish last year. A founding member of the ECWHL in 2003-04, the Rams have ripped off an incredible nine league playoff titles (no other team has more than one) in 11 years, to go with seven regular season crowns (Massachusetts is second with two).
URI was shaken up over the offseason when the contract of program founder and two-time ACHA coach of the year Beth McCann was not renewed (she later accepted the head coaching position at NCAA Division III Salve Regina), but former star pupil Ashley Pagliarini - who graduated from McCann's program in 2009 - has stepped in to great effect so far. URI split with third-ranked UMass in their last game action three weeks ago, and their only other losses are to NCAA Division I's Sacred Heart. Former Zoe M. Harris Award winner Cassie Catlow leads the way with six goals and eight points in the squad's five ACHA games, while Alisha DiFilippo - who teamed with Catlow on 2013's World University Games team - also stars offensively. Kayla DiLorenzo is one of the nation's best goalies and carries a 1.00 goals against average with a 0.959 save percentage and a pair of shutouts.
Trivia: Rhode Island, well known as the smallest of the 50 states in terms of land area, is a mere 48 miles from northern to southern borders, or roughly the driving distance from State College to Altoona down Interstate 99. East to west, the Ocean State is even smaller at 37 miles wide.
Head Coach: Ashley Pagliarini (first season)
Goals Scored Per Game: 3.57
Goals Allowed Per Game: 1.71
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Posted by Kyle Rossi