The Late Show: Mendelson Named Second Team All-ACHA Tournament

Nobody would argue that missing the public address announcement of the ACHA's all-tournament teams generally made following the title game is the worst part about having to leave the championships before that point. But nevertheless, it is a (very) mild downside to elimination following the group stage, a fate the Lady Ice Lions suffered back in March.

The silver lining came in the form of a pleasant surprise on Wednesday, when a plaque arrived in the mail recognizing newly-graduated forward Cara Mendelson as an all-tournament second team selection.

In just three games at the ACHA finals - two fewer than the number played by championship game participants Liberty and Miami, whose players accordingly dominated the scoring charts - Mendelson notched four points. Of the top 14 scorers in York, PA, only she, linemate Darby Kern (six points, tied for third best) and Minnesota's Laura Gengler came from teams other than the national champion Flames and second-place RedHawks.

The Pittsburgh native's biggest tournament moment came on March 5th against ECWHL rival Massachusetts. There, she opened the scoring late in the first period by receiving a pass in transition near the blue line, dangling around a defenseman, then following her own rebound. Mendelson added a second in the second, on a wraparound try during a delayed penalty to the Minutewomen. Devon Fisk made the score 3-1 on the ensuing power play, although Penn State was not able to hold the lead and settled for a 3-3 draw.

Mendelson collected assists in each of her other tournament games, against Liberty and Grand Valley State. After PSU narrowly qualified for the final eight, she was instrumental in the Lady Ice Lions proving they belonged with an overtime loss to the eventual champs and a tie with semifinalist GVSU.

Over the whole season, her 15 goals, 18 assists and 33 points were second on the squad in each instance, The first of those numbers includes three winners, highlighted by an overtime marker against UMass on January 10th.

Like the first team All-American nod for Kern announced two months ago, there's a fair bit of new history in Mendelson's honor. Until now, former Lady Icers Ellen Zajko and Andrea Lavelle were the only Penn Staters to ever make the first or second tournament team at the ACHA Division 1 level. Zajko got a first-team nod at the ACHA's first women's tournament in 2001, while Lavelle was the most valuable player the following season. Four other Lady Icers were named honorable mentions a total of five times, although none more recently than 2004.

In the Lady Ice Lions era, Fisk (first team in both 2013 and 2014), Katie Vaughan (second team in 2013, first team in 2014) and Tara Soukup (first team in 2014) have all been recognized at the ACHA Division 2 level as the team burst on to the scene with D2 runner-up finishes in its first two seasons.

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