Number One Stunner: Smiddy's Two Goals Fire PSU Past Defending Champs

Senior defenseman Madison Smiddy's brace fueled the monumental upset

On January 18, 2015, the Penn State Lady Ice Lions were the best team in the ACHA.

While that statement might seem brash, maybe even over the top, it's well supported thanks to PSU's 4-3 win over Miami in Oxford, OH's Goggin Ice Center to climb to 12-6-0 overall.

Consider the evidence: The RedHawks are the defending ACHA Division 1 national champions and have been its top-ranked team since the beginning of 2013-14. MU's last loss was nearly one year ago - on January 24, 2014 at Liberty - giving the hosts a 31-game unbeaten streak, part of which came from an 18-0-1 mark this season entering the game. They also boasted a 25-game unbeaten streak at home, dating from October 18, 2013. Individually, Miami's roster includes last season's national tournament MVP in Kaley Mooney and last season's Zoe M. Harris player of the year award winner, Hayley Williams. Next month, Williams, Mooney, three of their teammates and head coach Scott Hicks (who, by the way, was the 2013-14 D1 coach of the year) will travel to Spain to play for Team USA at the World University Games.

So yeah, the RedHawks are pretty good. The best, in fact. But on Sunday afternoon, Penn State was better.

One reason why? Madison Smiddy, herself a World University Games selection, as the senior's left-point bomb during a 5-on-3 advantage with 3:16 left in the game was the decider, helped by a Catie Karpinski holding penalty and a Jessica Gould interference call in quick succession. The marker snapped a 3-3 tie that had resulted from a Nicole Matthews goal with 9:44 left, an innocent-looking transitional floater that eluded Mary Kate Tonetti and became the first career goal for the Miami defenseman.

The score was Smiddy's second in bookending the day's offense, as she also put Penn State up 1-0 exactly four minutes into the game on a nearly identical looking play off of a draw created by Claire Gauthier's dump-in covered by MU goalie Carly Vanorden.

Darby Kern, a World University Games snub despite ranking among the division's top scorers all season, was another reason. She collected three assists in the contest, two of which set up Smiddy's goals. The triple-A placed the Venetia, PA native on 32 points this season, topping Devon Fisk's 2013-14 total of 30 for a new team record.

Jackie Saideh doubled the Lady Ice Lions' advantage to 2-0 with a power play goal 1:43 into the second period, a sequence that saw Fisk help the puck to the front of the blue paint, followed by a pileup of six players, chaos, and then a stick on the puck by a player who always seems to get a stick on the puck at the right moment. Anna Marcus was given the sole helper on the bury.

Miami, true to their pedigree, can strike quickly. In their previous games over the weekend, both wins against third-ranked Rhode Island, they posted two goals within 62, 53, 16, 56 and 23 seconds of each other. They managed the same trick against Penn State, as the early lead evaporated entirely in 72 seconds, thanks to scores from Cassidy Guthrie's wraparound and Williams' laser backhand.

Unlike the Rams, Penn State bounced back, as freshman Riley O'Connor put PSU back ahead with 1:17 left in the middle period on a centering feed to the slot from Kern, who was stationed behind the goal line. O'Connor had temporarily left the game late in the first period after a collision exiting the zone, but returned in time for the vital tally.

PSU's penalty kill finished spotless in five tries, while the power play offered the latter Smiddy goal and the Saideh effort in six advantages. Tonetti closed with 33 saves on 36 RedHawks shots, and Vanorden had 20 on 24 at the other end.

Penn State will have next weekend off before welcoming both Navy (January 30th) and Northeastern (January 31st and Feburary 1st) to Pegula Ice Arena for the final games of the regular season. After that, the ECWHL playoffs from February 20th through 22nd and the ACHA National Tournament from March 4th through 9th loom.

The team should have a good idea where it stands relative to the latter soon, as the third ACHA ranking of the season is expected this week, with a move from number 11 into the top eight seeming likely on the back of Sunday's result.

The best deserve at least that much, after all.

Box Score

First Period
1. Penn State, Madison Smiddy (Darby Kern), 16:00.
1. Miami, Alyssa Visalli (2:00 slashing), 15:11; 2. Penn State, Madison Smiddy (2:00 holding), 14:38; 3. Penn State, Bench (2:00 too many players on the ice, served by Tarika Embar), 3:15; 4. Miami, Alyssa Visalli (2:00 slashing), 0:06.
Second Period
2. Penn State, Jackie Saideh (Anna Marcus), 18:17 (power play); 3. Miami, Cassidy Guthrie (Alyssa Visalli), 5:12; 4. Miami, Hayley Williams (Kaley Mooney, Nicole Matthews), 4:00; 5. Penn State, Riley O'Connor (Darby Kern, Cara Mendelson), 1:17.
5. Penn State, Madison Smiddy (2:00 tripping), 9:39; 6. Penn State, Devon Fisk (2:00 high sticking), 0:46.
Third Period
6. Miami, Nicole Matthews (unassisted), 9:44; 7. Penn State, Madison Smiddy (Darby Kern), 3:16 (power play).
7. Miami, Nicole Matthews (2:00 interference), 15:09; 8. Miami, Kaley Mooney (2:00 holding), 8:53; 9. Miami, Catie Karpinski (2:00 holding), 4:49; 10. Miami, Jessica Gould (2:00 interference), 4:32; 11. Penn State, Ashton Schaffer (2:00 cross checking), 0:04.
Penn State: Mary Kate Tonetti: W, 33 saves/36 shots. Miami: Carly Vanorden: L, 20 saves/24 shots.

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