Lady Ice Lions Defeat Ohio State Slowly, And Then All At Once

Senior captain Ashton Schaffer busted open a stalemate late in the second period

When discussing hockey games, it's often customary to say that "it wasn't pretty, but it counts" when a heavily-favored team wins by a relatively tight score, like the 3-0 result the Lady Ice Lions posted over Ohio State on Saturday evening.

That statement, though, belies the dominance eleventh-ranked Penn State showed against an 11-player Buckeye squad in climbing to 11-6-0 overall while remaining 7-4-0 in the Eastern Collegiate Women's Hockey League. OSU dropped to 1-13-1 overall and is 0-8-0 in the Central Collegiate Women's Hockey Association.

From the opening faceoff, the Lady Ice Lions came out firing, outshooting the hosts 18-4 in the first period but carrying nothing to show for it into the locker room. In particular, the red line of Darby Kern, Riley O'Connor and Cara Mendelson generated chance after chance, forcing Ohio State goalie Emily Ciborek to come up with several key saves - including one on Mendelson on a loose puck from the low slot (after Kern was hauled down) that looked ticketed midway though the first period. In the last minute of the opening 20, that duo produced a low 2-on-1, but a missed saucer pass in front of a gaping cage cost a marker.

The unit of Claire Gauthier, Katie Murphy and Devon Fisk also radiated plenty of offense, including Gauthier's chip just wide from Fisk's behind-the-net feed and several Murphy tries like a second-period backhander through traffic that nearly scored.

Still, despite the dueling bagels and missed opportunities, it seemed a matter of when for the Lady Ice Lions, a question finally answered with 4:08 remaining in the second period. Of course, the "when" in this case wasn't nearly as notable as the "who:" Ashton Schaffer, firing clean through from the center of the ice off the rush. For the senior blueliner and team captain, it was her third career goal and her first since her dagger drive last March 14th against North Dakota State at the 2014 ACHA National Tournament.

An exhausted Buckeye squad continued to wilt as things progressed, although the consecutive power plays that situation helped produce bridging the second and third periods passed uneventfully.

Jackie Saideh finally cashed in some much-needed insurance with 7:28 remaining in the match, burying an Anna Marcus centering feed from the slot for her fourth goal of the season. Kim Badorrek picked up the secondary assist on the play for hitting Marcus on the wall.

Kern - who scored in the first two minutes of each game against Massachusetts last weekend - saved her magic for the late going this time around, taking a stretch pass from Mendelson, gaining a step on everyone and sniping past Ciborek 49 seconds from the final horn.

Mary Kate Tonetti wasn't severely dented by the Ohio State attack, although she was forced to make three quick stops on Melinda Vercollone and Sam Tolson early in the second period off of a PSU turnover - arguably the closest the Buckeyes came to scoring. In all, the senior finished with 18 saves and her fourth shutout of the season, a new team single-season record ahead of the three posted by Katie Vaughan last year.

In the other crease, Ciborek made 52 stops to keep her team in it until the Lady Ice Lions pulled away late. Her total included assistance in killing off all three OSU penalties in the contest.

Up next, PSU will head down the road to Oxford, OH for a Sunday date with the top-ranked, unbeaten and defending national champion Miami RedHawks. Puck drop is set for 2:00 p.m. from the Goggin Ice Center.

Box Score

First Period
Second Period
1. Penn State, Ashton Schaffer (unassisted), 4:08.
1. Ohio State, Madelyn Dukart (2:00 hooking), 0:09.
Third Period
2. Penn State, Jackie Saideh (Anna Marcus, Kim Badorrek), 7:28; 3. Penn State, Darby Kern (Cara Mendelson), 0:49.
2. Ohio State, Madelyn Dukart (2:00 roughing), 15:52; 3. Ohio State, Jennifer Boniecki (2:00 tripping), 0:03.
Penn State: Mary Kate Tonetti: W, 18 saves/18 shots. Ohio State: Emily Ciborek: L, 52 saves/55 shots.

Penn State Lady Ice Lions: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram