One and On: Lady Ice Lions Throttle Navy to Open ECWHL Playoffs

Darby Kern's 30 goals this season rank second in ACHA Division 1

Darby Kern scored four times - including her first three 47 seconds apart - and linemates Cara Mendelson and Katie Murphy chipped in five and four points respectively, as the Lady Ice Lions opened their ECWHL playoff run Friday night with a 8-0 win over Navy.

Third-seeded Penn State will now face the weekend's hosts, second-seeded Rhode Island, in the league semifinals on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. The other semifinal pits ECWHL regular season champion Massachusetts against Vermont, which defeated Northeastern just before PSU took the ice against the Midshipmen.

Unlike the Lady Ice Lions' two regular-season matchups with Navy, this one was anything but a slow build. Penn State won the shot battle in the first period by a staggering 27-1 count (en route to 63-12 for the game), and collected goals by Madison Smiddy and Riley O'Connor - the latter sequence started by a Smiddy stretch pass for Devon Fisk, which then produced a Claire Gauthier try and a juicy rebound for O'Connor.

That was prelude to the Kern show, as the big junior from Venetia, PA fed Murphy in the slot to put PSU up 3-0 4:02 in the second period, the proceeded with what has to be among the fastest natural hat tricks in ACHA history between the 9:45 and 8:58 marks. Each time, she had one of her classmates running sidecar on transitional efforts, as Murphy assisted on the second and Mendelson grabbed a helper on the third.

Murphy grabbed her second goal early in the third off of Mendelson's rebound, and Kern closed the evening's offense in fitting fashion. Murphy won a defensive zone faceoff to the eventual scorer, who stepped around a Navy defenseman at the PSU line to create an odd-man rush. A slick back-and-forth pass from Mendelson followed to get Middies goalie Sarah Hutchinson out of position for the easy tap-in and a 30th goal this season.

Mary Kate Tonetti and Aimee Little split the stress-free shutout down the middle, gathering seven and five saves, respectively. Both teams' power plays finished 0-for-1 after first-period tripping calls to Navy's Monica Hernandez and PSU's Lauren Chaby went unpunished.

Should the Lady Ice Lions defeat the Rams on Saturday, the team would then advance to Sunday's championship game against the UMass-UVM winner at 1:00 p.m. A loss to URI means a slot in 10:00 a.m.'s third place game.

Box Score

First Period
1. Penn State, Madison Smiddy (unassisted), 13:48; 2. Penn State, Riley O'Connor (Claire Gauthier), 6:07.
1. Navy, Monica Hernandez (2:00 tripping), 11:24; 2. Penn State, Lauren Chaby (2:00 tripping), 0:33.
Second Period
3. Penn State, Katie Murphy (Darby Kern, Cara Mendelson), 15:58; 4. Penn State, Darby Kern (unassisted), 9:45; 5. Penn State, Darby Kern (Katie Murphy, Cara Mendelson), 9:30; 6. Penn State, Darby Kern (Cara Mendelson, Cassie Dunne), 8:58.
Third Period
7. Penn State, Katie Murphy (Cara Mendelson, Darby Kern), 18:33; 8. Penn State, Darby Kern (Katie Murphy, Cara Mendelson).
Penn State: Mary Kate Tonetti: W, 7 saves/7 shots; Aimee Little (8:58 2nd): 5 saves/5 shots. Navy: Sarah Hutchinson: L, 55 saves/63 shots.

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