Over Overtime: Penn State Loses Late Lead, Settles For Tie with UMass

In the last word between ECWHL rivals Penn State and Massachusetts this season, neither team ultimately found an edge as the two skated to a 3-3 tie in the middle game of the ACHA National Tournament's round robin stage Thursday afternoon.

That's not to say that the Lady Ice Lions didn't have one for a substantial portion of the game, though.

Cara Mendelson put Penn State ahead 1-0 into the first intermission with four minutes remaining, following passes from linemates Riley O'Connor and Darby Kern, reception near the blue line, a nifty dangle around UMass defenseman Alyx Rivard, and a nice follow-up to her initial shot. Although the Minutewomen would level things up through an Amanda Abromson power play goal midway through the second period, one of the game's key stretches would soon follow.

An increasingly chippy contest saw Kern and Michaela Tosone sit for roughing and hooking, respectively, with 4:01 left. Penn State's speed won the ensuing 4-on-4 battle, as Mendelson bagged her second on a right-to-left wrap try into a gaping cage. The goal came during a delayed hooking call to Rivard, and it appeared that UMass expected a whistle and slowed a bit to create an opening.

PSU cashed in the ensuing power play as well just 28 seconds later, thanks to a Madison Smiddy drive that was deflected home in front and credited to Devon Fisk.

It's often said, however, that the two-goal lead is the most dangerous in hockey and Penn State knows that better than most teams.

And less than 24 hours after losing a 3-1 lead against Liberty and falling in overtime, the script repeated itself to a large extent.

The Minutewomen made the score 3-2 just 41 seconds into the third period during an early hooking call to Mendelson, as Caleigh LaBossiere found Meghan Crosby on the doorstep. Then, with the Lady Ice Lions just 64 seconds from a huge victory and with UMass goalie Kasey Zegel on the bench, Abromson - who had recently been shaken up during an Ashton Schaffer cross check - fired a seeing-eye shot through heavy traffic from the left side to tie things up.

Penn State finished with the Fisk goal in four power play opportunities, including a hook to Tosone in overtime. Massachusetts was two for five. Mary Kate Tonetti won the battle of the two all-ECWHL goaltenders, making 37 saves on 40 shots, versus 25 on 28 for Zegel.

With the result, both PSU and UMass are 0-1-1 within Pool B. Liberty and Grand Valley State, scheduled to play each other Thursday night, are both 1-0-0. From here, the easiest path to the semifinals for the Lady Ice Lions is to defeat GVSU on Friday - puck drop is scheduled for 12:45 p.m. - and for the Flames to win their remaining games against the Lakers and Minutewomen. Those results would place PSU at 1-1-1, good for second place in the pool ahead of 1-2-0 Grand Valley State and 0-2-1 Massachusetts.

Box Score

First Period
1. Penn State, Cara Mendelson (Riley O'Connor, Darby Kern), 4:04.
1. Penn State, Katie Murphy (2:00 tripping), 0:16.
Second Period
2. Massachusetts, Amanda Abromson (Paige Harrington, Alyx Rivard), 12:26 (power play); 3. Penn State, Cara Mendelson (unassisted), 2:51; 4. Penn State, Devon Fisk (Madison Smiddy), 2:23 (power play).
2. Penn State, Madison Smiddy (2:00 tripping), 13:03; 3. Massachusetts, Brittani Lanzilli (2:00 body checking), 11:42; 4. Massachusetts, Michaela Tosone (2:00 hooking), 4:01; 5. Penn State, Darby Kern (2:00 roughing), 4:01; 6. Massachusetts, Alyx Rivard (2:00 hooking), 2:51.
Third Period
5. Massachusetts, Meghan Crosby (Caleigh LaBossiere), 19:19 (power play); 6. Massachusetts, Amanda Abromson (unassisted), 1:04.
7. Penn State, Cara Mendelson (2:00 hooking), 19:26; 8. Penn State, Ashton Schaffer (2:00 cross checking), 10:45; 9. Massachusetts, Bench (2:00 too many players, served by Meredith Gallagher), 7:36; 10. Penn State, Devon Fisk (2:00 hooking), 5:30.
11. Massachusetts, Michaela Tosone (2:00 hooking), 2:52.
Penn State: Mary Kate Tonetti: T, 37 saves/40 shots. Massachusetts: Kasey Zegel: T, 25 saves/28 shots.

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