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Lady Ice Lions Announce 2015-16 Slate Laced With National Contenders
A second turn through an Eastern Collegiate Women's Hockey League slate, at least three meetings with reigning ACHA national champion Liberty and four tilts with 2014-15 semifinalist Adrian highlight the Lady Ice Lions' 2015-16 schedule.
Much like the beginning of last season, which saw Penn State play ten times away from home (compared to four times at Pegula Ice Arena) during the fall semester, head coach Patrick Fung's squad will begin the campaign as road warriors. This time around, the task will be an opening weekend at Massachusetts (October 9th and 10th) and Northeastern (October 11th), followed by a trip to Adrian (October 24th and 25th).
The Minutewomen and Huskies, of course, are very familiar teams as ECWHL opponents that the Lady Ice Lions faced a combined nine times a year ago. Adrian, however, has never met any Penn State team, including the previous Lady Icers program. The Bulldogs were 19-8-6 last season, then advanced to the final four at the ACHA National Tournament before falling to Liberty. While the version of Adrian PSU faces will be without graduated star goalie Emily Michelin, the Bulldogs will return up to 27 players, including leading scorer Nichole LaFlamme, who potted 17 times in 2014-15.
From there, the script changes, as the team will close out the fall semester with six consecutive home games. Northeastern (November 7th and 8th) and a return trip from Adrian (December 5th and 6th) bookend that stretch, with a visit from ECWHL rival Rhode Island (November 14th and 15th in the middle).
The Lady Ice Lions and Rams, a long-time roadblock for all other league contenders with nine of the 12 playoff titles in ECWHL history, split a series at URI's Boss Ice Arena last November. Rhode Island, however, took the rubber match of the season series by handing PSU a 4-1 setback in the conference semifinals back in February.
Defending ECWHL regular season and playoff champion UMass will open the spring semester at Pegula Ice Arena on January 9th and 10th, followed by a unique road trip. From January 15th through 18th, the team will visit Lynchburg, VA over the long Martin Luther King Day weekend. While there, Penn State will take on 2014-15 national champ Liberty in a newly-renovated LaHaye Ice Center. The University of Colorado will also be on hand to battle both the Flames and Lady Ice Lions over the course of the weekend.
Specific dates, times and opponents for that three-way meeting have yet to be determined.
Liberty faced off with Penn State three times last year. LU took all three, including one at nationals, although all three were one-goal results and two were decided in overtime after PSU held third-period leads. The Flames will also come to central Pennsylvania on February 13th and 14th.
Davenport, another first-time opponent, is set to visit for a rare Thursday game on January 28th followed by a resumption of ECWHL play on January 30th and 31st with Vermont. PSU swept all three matchups with the Catamounts in 2014-15, while DU finished 12th in the ACHA rankings (three spots ahead of UVM) after posting a 13-9-1 mark and flirting with nationals contention late into the season.
A fourth two-opponent weekend, this time a trip to Northeastern (February 5th) and Rhode Island (February 6th and 7th) precedes the home games with Liberty to round out the regular season schedule.
The ECWHL playoffs, as is customary, will be played at the home rink of the defending champs - in this case, Massachusetts' Mullins Center over the February 19th-21st weekend. The ACHA National Tournament, where Penn State hopes to win its first women's hockey national championship, will be contested from March 9th through 13th in Kalamazoo, MI.
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Posted by Kyle Rossi