|Nina Elia can generally be found near the front of PSU opponents' nets|
The semester break can be a time of significant turnover in college hockey for a variety of reasons, a reality that benefitted the Lady Ice Lions in previous years through the addition of players like Taylor Nyman, Elizabeth Denis, Alex Warren-Caldwell and Emma Dickson. This season has proven no exception, as two players have joined (or re-joined) the team over the just-completed winter break: freshman goaltender Aimee Little and junior forward Nina Elia.
Elia, of course, is no stranger to the program, as the junior is a founding Lady Ice Lion and spent two full seasons with the team before missing the fall semester portion of this year's schedule to study abroad.
The Skaneateles, NY native is noted as one of PSU's more reliable - she was one of only three players to not miss a single game over the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons - and adaptable players, contributing to both scoring and checking lines as the squad made consecutive national championship game appearances in ACHA Division 2.
None of her 15 career points in 39 games are more memorable than her putback goal in double overtime to boost Penn State over Wisconsin-Stout in the 2013 ACHA D2 semifinals. Her brand of timely offense continued as a sophomore, when she scored in two different games against defending national champion West Chester, including a power play winner (along with an assist on PSU's other goal in the game) on January 19, 2014. She had a pair of helpers in an important win against national tournament qualifier Michigan State on October 20, 2013, while her trademark toughness is present every time she takes the ice.
|Aimee Little (second from left) signed with Norwich University's NCAA Division III program last year|
Little comes to Penn State with an impressive set of hockey credentials, some of which include players already with the Lady Ice Lions. She's a former member of the West Chester Quakers 19U team, where she joined fellow goalie Mary Kate Tonetti (in 2010-11) and forward Devon Fisk (in 2010-11 and 2011-12) during their final pre-Penn State stops, and the trio helped the Quakers to a runner-up finish in the Mid-Atlantic Women's Hockey Association in 2011. Little moved on to the Hershey Jr. Bears in 2013-14, while also spending time with the Lancaster Firebirds boys midget team in 2012-13 (in addition to a lengthy run with the Firebirds organization prior to 2010).
She is a former USA Hockey player development camp selection, having been tabbed as one of the Atlantic District's six 15-year-olds sent to the national camp in 2010.
The 2014 Lancaster Catholic High School graduate was recruited to NCAA Division III Norwich University - an ECWHL rival of the Lady Icers from 2005 through 2007, prior to becoming a varsity program - and spent the fall semester at the Northfield, VT school before electing to transfer to Penn State.
Little, Elia and the rest of the eleventh-ranked team are back in action at Pegula Ice Arena this weekend, as number five Massachusetts visits for a series packed with ECWHL and national implications. Puck drops are set for 7:00 p.m. on Saturday and 12:45 p.m. on Sunday.
Penn State Lady Ice Lions: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram