Smiddy Picked for Team USA, Set to Compete at World University Games

USA Hockey release
Full 2015 U.S. National University Team roster

Senior defenseman Madison Smiddy has been selected to the 2015 U.S. National University Team, head coach Kristen Wright and USA Hockey announced on Monday. Smiddy and the 21 other ACHA players tabbed will wear the red, white and blue and represent the United States in the World University Games tournament, held February 5th through 12th in Granada, Spain.

So far this season, Smiddy has excelled as a senior Lady Ice Lions rookie. She has partnered primarily with Ashton Schaffer to provide the team with a reliable and heavily-used shutdown pair, while also chipping in offensively with a pair of goals and three assists in 14 games. The highlight of those five points, without a doubt, was a low blast from left point that propelled Penn State to a 2-1 overtime win at Northeastern on November 21st.

The Grand Rapids, MI native and product of the noted Honeybaked program spent her sophomore and junior years as a member of Penn State's first two varsity women's hockey teams, posting one goal and seven assists over 20 games. Her 0.40 points per game with the NCAA team were 36 percent better than the next best PSU blueliner over those two campaigns. As a freshman, she played for the former Lady Icers ACHA program and was also a two-way standout, finishing second in defense scoring with five goals and five assists in 26 games and winning the team's rookie of the year award.

Penn State has an illustrious history with the World University Games. Last December, Lady Ice Lions goalie Katie Vaughan helped Team USA to a bronze medal in Trentino, Italy, the first medal by an American squad since the ACHA began stocking USA Hockey's entries to the biennial tournament in 2001 (for the men) and 2011 (for the women). Vaughan's exploits during the most recent edition of the competition included outdueling Russian Olympic goalie Anna Prugova with 33 stops on 35 shots in a 4-2 U.S. victory to open the group stage, and a 37-for-38 effort in the bronze medal match, a 3-1 win over Japan.

The Pittsburgher's showing in Italy helped her win USA Hockey's Adult Player of the Year award this past May.

The 2011 fourth-place U.S. team that competed in Erzurum, Turkey included four Lady Icers: Vaughan, fellow goaltender Heather Rossi, forward Denise Rohlik and defenseman Lindsay Reihl. Both the 2011 and 2013 squads were coached by former Lady Icers boss Mo Stroemel.

Former Penn State Icers coach Scott Balboni will reprise his position leading the American men in 2015, as he did for that group's best-ever fourth place finish in 2013. Seventeen different Icers represented PSU 19 times at the 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011 World University Games tournaments with Balboni's Icers predecessor, Joe Battista, serving as head coach in 2003.

Lady Ice Lions opponents are well represented on the 2015 women's roster as well, featuring seven players from the Eastern Collegiate Women's Hockey League in addition to Smiddy. Massachusetts leads the ECWHL with four selections, headlined by Paige Harrington, who played at Penn State for the Lady Icers in 2011-12. Rhode Island has two on the team - forwards Cassie Catlow and Kristen Levesque - while Vermont's Emily Ford rounds out the ECWHL delegation. Top-ranked defending national champion Miami, which PSU will visit on January 18th, leads all schools with six players plus assistant coach Scott Hicks headed to Spain. Harrington and Catlow were also a part of 2013's bronze medal squad.

Smiddy and Team USA will start things off in Granada as a member of Pool A with China, Japan and Spain, opening with Chinese opposition on February 5th at 11:00 a.m. eastern time. Japan will follow on February 7th at 11:00 a.m., with a contest against the hosts wrapping up pool play on February 9th at 2:30 p.m. Should the U.S. finish in the top two of the group standings, it would advance to the semifinals on February 11th against a Pool B team (three-time gold medalists Canada, Russia and Kazakhstan make up the other side of the field), with the gold and bronze medal games taking place the next day.

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