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PSU Set to Pursue Life, Liberty and Happiness Against No. 2 Flames
What: No. 11 Penn State (9-3-0 overall, 6-3-0 Eastern Collegiate Women's Hockey League) visits No. 2 Liberty (12-3-1 overall) for a non-conference series
When: Friday, December 5th at 6:00 p.m. and Saturday, December 6th at 2:30 p.m.
Where: LaHaye Ice Center; Lynchburg, VA
Coverage: The Liberty Flames Sports Network will offer video streaming of both games, available here
Notable: The Lady Ice Lions close the fall semester schedule, looking to head into winter break by making a massive national statement
Ordering a Recount: During the team's week off for Thanksgiving, the ACHA released new Division 1 rankings, which moved the Lady Ice Lions up one spot from 12th to 11th, still short of the top-eight slotting needed by late February to qualify for the ACHA National Tournament in March. PSU will have ample opportunity to alter the present course though, as this weekend against second-ranked Liberty begins a stretch of five games in six against top-five opponents. After winter break, Penn State will host number five Massachusetts for a pair of contests on January 10th and 11th before going back on the road to face number one Miami on January 18th. The day before matching up with the RedHawks, PSU will stop in Columbus, OH for a one-off with Ohio State.
In Case You Forgot: Penn State's last game action came on November 22nd and 23rd in Boston, against ECWHL rival Northeastern. PSU took home 2-1 and 3-2 wins from the series with the Huskies, the first made possible by a Madison Smiddy drive 40 seconds into overtime after NU's Kelsey Hickey tied the game early in the third period. After roughly eight hours between Smiddy's goal and a 7:30 a.m. puck drop the next day, Devon Fisk, Cara Mendelson and Tara Soukup scored, and Claire Gauthier dished out a pair of assists, to complete the sweep.
Southern Discomfort: Many of Penn State's early-season road trips to New England have facilitated things for Lady Ice Lions parents who have taken advantage of seeing their daughters play close(r) to home - the families of Massachusetts natives Gauthier and Jackie Saideh, Connecticut native Anna Marcus and Alexandria Bay, NY's Geneva Wagoner are a few examples of those who have frequented PSU away games this year. Traveling below the Mason-Dixon line to Lynchburg, VA's Liberty presents a whole different situation for a roster decidedly stacked with northerners, however. Excluding Texan Ashton Schaffer, Lucy Yeatman's hometown of Avondale, PA is the furthest south of any Lady Ice Lion, at 39° 49' 32" north latitude and is a 293-mile drive from this weekend's action.
Evil Twin Sisters: Liberty is the only school to sponsor a team in all five ACHA divisions (men's 1, 2 and 3, women's 1 and 2) and joins Michigan State as the only schools offering a team in both women's divisions. The Lady Ice Lions played Liberty's D2 team last season, on September 27th and 28th, 2013 - the series opener standing as the first intercollegiate hockey game in Pegula Ice Arena history. PSU had little issue with those Flames, taking 6-0 and 7-0 results that saw the first career goals for Kim Badorrek, Wagoner, Marcus and Saideh, with Saideh notching a hat trick in the second game.
Liberty Van Can't: Penn State's former Lady Icers program, PSU's sole women's hockey team from 1996 through 2012, regularly played against Liberty's D1 team after it was established in 2006. One of those meetings came on March 12, 2010 in Blaine, MN, in what would turn out to be the Lady Icers' last-ever game at an ACHA national tournament. PSU took the contest 1-0 on a Sam Summers rebound goal, helping the squad finish sixth in the nation, its highest season-ending rank since 2001-02's third place run. The victory was also the Lady Icers' first at nationals since March 20, 2004 against Western Michigan.
Name: Liberty University
Location: Lynchburg, VA
Series History: Tied, 0-0-0. While the Lady Ice Lions are facing Liberty's ACHA Division 1 team for the first time this weekend, the former Lady Icers program went 7-11-2 against the Flames through it's final 2011-12 season, including 5-2-1 over the final eight games.
About Liberty: Since its founding for the 2006-07 season, few programs can match Liberty's resume: A 165-77-16 overall record, six invitations to nationals in eight completed seasons (with a seventh in nine appearing likely, given their present number two ranking), and six top five finishes including a championship game loss to Minnesota in 2012-13 and a third-place game victory over Rhode Island last year.
This season Paul Bloomfield, the only coach the team has ever known, has LU rolling once again, with highlights of the Flames' 12 wins including a decisive season-opening sweep of Massachusetts, a pair of road wins against perennially-strong Robert Morris later in October, and a 4-1 result over Rhode Island on November 15th. However, Liberty is actually on a three-game losing streak leading into the Lady Ice Lions' visit, although one with a massive asterisk - the Ls came in overtime to third-ranked URI in overtime on the day after the LU triumph over the Rams, and to unanimous number one and defending national champion Miami two weekends ago. Carrie Jickling (16 goals, 28 points) and Sarah Stevenson (11 goals, 29 points) lead the offensive charge for a deep, talented and physical roster.
Trivia: While Liberty is a small school by traditional standards, including roughly 14,000 residential undergraduates, it claims nearly 100,000 online students. The combined residential-online enrollment makes LU the nation's largest private non-profit university and the seventh-biggest four-year university overall.
Head Coach: Paul Bloomfield
Goals Scored Per Game: 5.63
Goals Allowed Per Game: 1.31
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Posted by Kyle Rossi