Lady Ice Lions Shake Off Both Slow Start and Midshipmen in 10-1 Crushing

Aimee Little grabbed her first Penn State win by making 25 saves

Just as the bitter cold that descended on University Park and Pegula Ice Arena Friday night can cause cars to start slowly, so it goes with hockey teams sometimes as well. But usually, both wind up hitting their usual performance level as if nothing was ever wrong.

Cara Mendelson notched her first career hat trick, Darby Kern collected one as well alongside an assist, and five other Lady Ice Lions enjoyed multi-point outings as Penn State survived an early Navy strike to thrash the Midshipmen 10-1.

With the win, eighth-ranked PSU is now 13-6-0 overall and 8-4-0 in the Eastern Collegiate Women's Hockey League. Navy dropped to 7-16-0 overall, 0-13-0 in the ECWHL.

While it would decidedly be an overreaction to call the first ten minutes of the game a crisis, the opening half of the opening period certainly did not go according to plan. A sluggish home team struggled to put things together, and the visitors pounced through Hannah Pereira, who hammered home an Emily Buzzard pass from the slot off of a faceoff play 4:30 into the game.

Fortunately, that wake up call was enough to initiate a turning of the tide back in PSU's favor the rest of the way, with most of the offense coming in the form of quick bursts.

The first of those bursts were goals from Mendelson - who deflected a Cassie Dunne shot through after a Riley O'Connor faceoff win - and Kern's solo effort off of a beastly forecheck just 53 seconds apart midway though the first period. Jackie Saideh added a third goal before intermission, taking an Anna Marcus feed down the middle in transition and firing off of, then over, Midshipmen goalie Sarah Hutchinson.

With the score lingering at 3-1 late into the second period, a second burst came from Claire Gauthier's effort on a net-front scramble and another Kern unassisted goal, this time with 66 seconds of separation. In the final period, Mendelson, Katie Murphy and Gauthier took things to the next level with three goals in a 1:02 span to propel the affair from decisive to full-on rout. The Mendelson goal was via a stretch pass down the middle from Kern, a bit of a reversal of their usual roles, while Murphy and Gauthier took turns assisting each other.

Mendelson and Kern then each completed their three-goal outings with late window dressing. The latter, who finished with a slick one-on-one move around a Navy defenseman, now has 19 goals and is tied for the fourth-best in ACHA Division 1 in that category while her 36 points are tied for third.

Beyond the two hat magicians, Gauthier (two goals, one assists), Murphy (one goal, two assists), Marcus (two assists), Dunne (two assists) and O'Connor (two assists) were Penn State's other skaters collecting more than one point.

Aimee Little shook off the Pereira goal and ended up with a solid 25-save outing between the pipes for her first Penn State win after joining the team this semester. On the other end, Hutchinson stood out for much of the game but ultimately collapsed, allowing the ten behind her on 45 Lady Ice Lions shots. A late roughing call, successfully killed, to the Middies' Courtney Fuller was the contest's only penalty.

PSU will be back in action twice more this weekend at Pegula Ice Arena, against Northeastern, to close out the 2014-15 regular season. The first game is the team's annual Senior Night, set for Saturday night at 7:00 p.m., with a rematch between the Lady Ice Lions and Huskies taking place on Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m.

Box Score

First Period
1. Navy, Hannah Pereira (Emily Buzzard), 15:30; 2. Penn State, Cara Mendelson (Riley O'Connor, Cassie Dunne), 8:07; 3. Penn State, Darby Kern (unassisted), 7:14; 4. Penn State, Jackie Saideh (Anna Marcus), 3:34.
Second Period
5. Penn State, Claire Gauthier (Katie Murphy, Ashton Schaffer), 4:18; 6. Penn State, Darby Kern (unassisted), 3:12.
Third Period
7. Penn State, Cara Mendelson (Darby Kern, Kelly Watson), 18:24; 8. Penn State, Katie Murphy (Claire Gauthier), 17:56; 9. Penn State, Claire Gauthier (Katie Murphy, Devon Fisk), 17:22; 10. Penn State, Cara Mendelson (Riley O'Connor, Cassie Dunne), 10:21; 11. Penn State, Darby Kern (Anna Marcus), 5:22.
1. Navy, Courtney Fuller (2:00 roughing), 8:40.
Penn State: Aimee Little: W, 25 saves/26 shots. Navy: Sarah Hutchinson: L, 35 saves/45 shots.

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