What: No. 12 Penn State (6-3-0 overall, 4-3-0 Eastern Collegiate Women's Hockey League) hosts ACHA Division 2's Slippery Rock (3-4-0 overall, 3-3-0 Delaware Valley Collegiate Hockey Conference) in a non-conference game
When: Friday, November 14th at 7:00 p.m.
Where: Pegula Ice Arena; University Park, PA
Notable: Penn State plays its final home game of the fall semester against its first-ever home opponent
Number Four Stunna: The Lady Ice Lions made a massive statement last weekend in splitting on the road at fourth-ranked Rhode Island, as Penn State attempts to climb into the top eight of the ACHA rankings in time to qualify for nationals. Riley O'Connor scored in both series games, while Anna Marcus and Cara Mendelson added tallies in Sunday's win, a match that also featured two Devon Fisk assists and 34 Mary Kate Tonetti saves. The former Lady Icers program was 6-34-1 all time against URI, including 1-17-0 at Bradford R. Boss Ice Arena.
Poll Roll: Friday's game, coupled with next weekend's series at Northeastern, represent Penn State's final push to rise from 12th place in the second ACHA ranking period, which closes on November 23rd. The Lady Ice Lions have put forward a strong resume for elevation so far, including:
- The win over number four Rhode Island, the only time all season a team not presently in the top four has defeated a top-four team
- A 9-0 win over Navy on November 2nd that equals the average score second-ranked Liberty put on the Midshipmen over two games
- Three total losses (tenth fewest in the country), all to the teams presently ranked third and fourth and by a combined six goals
These Girls Are On Fire: Fisk (one goal, five assists), Mendelson (two goals, two assists) and O'Connor (two goals) are just three of several Lady Ice Lions who have rung up loads of offense over PSU's last three games. The list also includes Darby Kern (three goals, three assists - all in the November 2nd win over Navy), Katie Murphy (two goals, one assist), Claire Gauthier (one goal, two assists), Jackie Saideh (one goal, one assist) and Sam Siciliano (two assists).
Slowing Zoes: Penn State's football program once had a reputation for shutting down Heisman Trophy winners, but the Lady Ice Lions' stellar defense is developing a similar mystique when it comes to winners of the Zoe M. Harris Award as the ACHA's player of the year. Since losing to 2013 Division 2 winner Becky Dobson (West Chester) in that season's national championship game, PSU has played five games against past or eventual winners including twice more against Dobson, once against 2014 Division 2 winner Kacie Johnson (North Dakota State) and twice last weekend against 2013 Division 1 winner Cassie Catlow (Rhode Island). In those five games, the players designated as the best in the nation went 1-4-0 and managed a total of four goals and two assists (with three of the goals coming from Dobson late in a Lady Ice Lions blowout win) - well off of their combined 2.76 points per game during the seasons they opposed Penn State.
One Already Done: Friday's game was originally scheduled as a two-game series, but the Saturday half was canceled at Slippery Rock's request, as the Pride would only have had six players available to play on that day.
Name: Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania
Location: Slippery Rock, PA
Series History: Penn State leads, 3-0-0. The series is perhaps most notable for including the first home game in Lady Ice Lions history on December 9, 2012 in Altoona, PA, an early-morning contest that saw four goals each from Fisk and Mandy Mortach in an 8-0 rout. Last season, the teams met twice: a 7-2 PSU win at Pegula Ice Arena on November 22, 2013 driven by Cassie Dunne (one goal, two assists) and Carly Szyszko (two goals, one assist), and a 6-0 PSU win in Warrendale, PA on February 7th. The latter tilt involved a valiant 36-save effort from Pride defenseman Amanda Brawley filling in as an emergency goalie, but also multi-point efforts from Szyszko, Fisk, Tonetti and Taylor Nyman.
About Slippery Rock: Slippery Rock has tasted success in the DVCHC, winning the 2010 league championship and running off a perfect 2010-11 in conference games before being upset in the playoff title game by Navy. Another trip to the final came last season after a second-place standings finish, but a blowout loss to first-year squad Towson squashed trophy dreams once more.
Now, in 2014-15, the Pride has endured the departure of program legend Christy Pastucha to the tune of a sweep of Virginia last weekend and an October 25th win over Villanova. A 9-0 loss to former Lady Ice Lions archrival California opened SRU's year, with the other defeats coming to Maryland (twice, last month) and VU on the day following Slippery Rock's win over the Wildcats. While the team has an extremely light roster - twelve players - junior Kristin Bielewicz (who scored last year against Penn State and has 12 goals this year) is a top-line threat. Cal transfer Chelsea Phipps has added ten markers, while Laura Anderson has a team-high six assists and 12 points.
Trivia: Slippery Rock football has a bizarre and unique relationship with the University of Michigan's program. Beginning in 1959, Michigan Stadium public address announcer Steve Filipiak began announcing Rock scores at Wolverines games, essentially because of the school's funny-sounding name. Those odd updates from a Division II program two states away, tucked in among the football giants of the Big Ten, SEC and other Division I power leagues, became wildly popular - often drawing the biggest crowd reaction - and have since been a Saturday tradition in Ann Arbor. It's even gotten to the point where Slippery Rock has played three home games in Michigan Stadium over the years. The first, against Shippensburg in 1979, drew a DII record 61,143 fans. The most recent took place four weeks ago and resulted in a 45-23 loss to Mercyhurst.
Head Coach: Michael Harshman
Goals Scored Per Game: 5.14
Goals Allowed Per Game: 6.14
Penn State Lady Ice Lions: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram