Mass-ive: Mendelson, Kern, Tonetti Boost Lady Ice Lions to Statement Win

Defenseman Kim Badorrek and goalie Mary Kate Tonetti kept potent UMass at bay on Saturday

Cara Mendelson pushed home a loose puck generated after Darby Kern bullied her way to the front of the net with 2:28 remaining in overtime as the Lady Ice Lions stunned fifth-ranked Massachusetts at Pegula Ice Arena on Saturday night.

Penn State, the 11th ranked team in ACHA Division 1, improved to 10-5-1 overall and 7-3-0 in the ECWHL with the victory while UMass dropped to 14-5-0 overall and 10-2-0 in the ECWHL.

Back in October, a series between Penn State and UMass produced zero Lady Ice Lions goals in two games as the Minutewomen took a 3-0, 1-0 sweep. It took Kern exactly 22 seconds from the opening faceoff to deviate from that blueprint this time around.

Kern's team-leading 14th goal of the year wasn't her prettiest, essentially a solid shot on from the left wing circle that somehow beat UMass' Kasey Zegel, but it did finish a brilliant end-to-end passing combination from Madison Smiddy to Ashton Schaffer to Riley O'Connor, and finally, to Kern.

The goal, unfortunately, didn't offer much in the way of foreshadowing, as it would be all PSU could muster in the regulation 60 minutes. That's not to say there weren't chances: In the first period alone, O'Connor notably had a near-miss on a deflection try, while a Katie Murphy saucer pass set Kern in on a partial breakaway with in the final two minutes, but Zegel came up with the save on the big junior that time. Later on, Jackie Saideh hit a post following up a Kelly Watson drive while Zegel robbed O'Connor with her glove on the doorstep a few minutes later, among other close calls.

Massachusetts had plenty of opportunities as well, of course. The visitors dominated the second period to the tune of a 16-3 shot count (constituting most of their 40-22 overall advantage), but Mary Kate Tonetti passed each test en route to 39 saves for the game. Her most memorable stops included one on Meghan Crosby late in that middle 20 that saw the UMass senior walk into the low slot unfettered off of an offensive draw and a denial of Caleigh LaBossiere in the opening frame after the two-time World University Games selection intercepted on the forecheck.

Amanda Abromson became the first and only maroon-clad player to best the Lady Ice Lions' president with 7:55 remaining in the third period. On the play, former Lady Icer Paige Harrington bombed one on goal from center point. Tonetti made that save, but the rebound fell in front of her and Abromson forced it in.

The tying goal only fueled the elation once the successful overtime ended early, though. The Lady Ice Lions are now 3-1-0 this season when using the fourth period (three of those four games have come in the team's last five contests) and 4-2-3 all time.

Each team was assessed one minor penalty in the contest, with each power play coming up empty during its turn.

Number 12 Robert Morris upset fourth-ranked Michigan State on Saturday night to ruin Penn State's status as the only team outside of the ACHA's top five to beat a current top five team this season. However, by topping UMass, PSU became the only non-top-five team to pull off the feat twice (the other victory was on November 9th against present number three Rhode Island).

The Lady Ice Lions and Minutewomen will close out the series on Sunday afternoon at 12:45 p.m. in Pegula Ice Arena before PSU heads back on the road to visit Ohio State and top-ranked Miami on January 17th and 18th.

Box Score

First Period
1. Penn State, Darby Kern (Madison Smiddy), 19:38.
Second Period
1. Penn State, Cara Mendelson (2:00 tripping), 6:17.
Third Period
2. Massachusetts, Amanda Abromson (Paige Harrington), 7:55.
2. Massachusetts, Paige Harrington (2:00 slashing), 4:26.
3. Penn State, Cara Mendelson (Darby Kern), 2:28.
Penn State: Mary Kate Tonetti: W, 39 saves/40 shots. Massachusetts: Kasey Zegel: L, 20 saves/22 shots.

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