Natty Iced: Liberty Rally Stuns Lady Ice Lions in ACHA Tourney Opener

Taylor Nyman opened the game's scoring on Wednesday

The Road to Nattys pulled into the Frustration Station on Wednesday night.

Sarah Stevenson flipped a net-front backhanded rebound try past Mary Kate Tonetti with just 36 seconds remaining in overtime, as Liberty twice rallied from two-goal deficits to top the Lady Ice Lions 4-3 in the ACHA National Tournament opener for both teams.

Penn State now sits fourth in Pool B with a 0-1-0 record, trailing third-place Massachusetts on the goals against tiebreaker, after the Minutewomen dropped a 2-0 decision to Grand Valley State earlier in the day. The Flames are second, likewise falling behind the Lakers on goals against.

The contest marked the third loss in three games this season for PSU against LU, but also the third time in those three games that the Lady Ice Lions held a lead well into the proceedings, the second time that lead was more than one goal, and the second time Liberty capped their rally in overtime.

Taylor Nyman laid the first brick in building that lead, and also set off a scoring bonanza after a fairly tight first period. Just 18 seconds after PSU successfully killed an interference call to Ashton Schaffer, Darby Kern threw the puck to the front out of the right wing corner, where Nyman redirected past LU goalie Chantal Lischynski.

Kern did the honors herself less than a minute later to make it 2-0, taking a Cara Mendelson pass in the neutral zone and weaving through both Flames defensemen before firing home. However, Liberty cut the lead in half on the next shift, as Courtney Gilmour deflected a low C.J. Tipping drive from center point through.

The next goal, uncharacteristically (all things considered), took four minutes to come. On the play, Katie Murphy won the puck in the defensive zone and moved it ahead to Claire Gauthier for a 3-on-1 also including Devon Fisk. Gauthier elected to rip a shot herself, and got it just through enough for a 3-1 lead.

That would turn out to be Penn State's high point, however.

The Flames rally - which included a 32-9 shot differential after a first period that ended 10-9 PSU in the category - officially began with Stevenson, who foreshadowed her later goal with a rebound try past a sprawled Tonetti near the end of the second period. Then, 5:46 away from the Lady Ice Lions upset, Chelsey Greenwood bullied her way to the front for the third of four LU goals scored within garlic breath proximity of the blue paint.

PSU will be back in action on Thursday afternoon at 1:15 p.m. against familiar ECWHL foe Massachusetts in what is essentially a must-win game for both teams in order to place within the top two of the pool and advance to the semifinals. Following that contest, the team will close the round robin stage on Friday at 12:45 against GVSU.

Box Score

First Period
Second Period
1. Penn State, Taylor Nyman (Darby Kern), 13:19; 2. Penn State, Darby Kern (Riley O'Connor, Cara Mendelson), 12:23; 3. Liberty, Courtney Gilmour (C.J. Tipping), 12:07; 4. Penn State, Claire Gauthier (Devon Fisk), 8:17; 5. Liberty, Sarah Stevenson (Catherine Burrell, C.J. Tipping), 1:25.
1. Penn State, Ashton Schaffer (2:00 interference), 15:37; 2. Liberty, Chelsey Greenwood (2:00 tripping), 7:14.
Third Period
6. Liberty, Chelsey Greenwood (unassisted), 5:46.
3. Liberty, Courtney Gilmour (2:00 roughing), 16:07; 4. Penn State, Darby Kern (2:00 elbowing), 12:28.
7. Liberty, Sarah Stevenson (Carrie Jickling), 0:35.
Penn State: Mary Kate Tonetti: L, 37 saves/41 shots. Liberty: Chantal Lischynski: W, 16 saves/19 shots.

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