Dempsey, Lady Ice Lions Knock Out Minutewomen in Overtime

Darian Dempsey scored her first two career goals, including the overtime winner, on Saturday night

When a team is 2-8-1 and ranked 15th in the ACHA - as the Lady Ice Lions were entering the 2016 portion of this year's schedule, far below lofty preseason expectations - patterns familiar to most organized team sports often emerge. Players become disengaged, stop doing many of the little things required for individual and team success, start making uncharacteristic mistakes, start blaming each other for them, and the team can very easily sink even lower than previously thought as any adversity receives a collective shrug in reply.

Specifically to PSU's situation, the team was hit with crushing personnel losses. All-time leading scorer Devon Fisk and stalwart defenseman Ashton Schaffer graduated in December, while exciting top-line rookie Caitlin Costello elected to take a semester off from school.

One thing that usually isn't part of that script: rallying from 3-1 third-period deficit to best a top five team that carried an 11-1-2 overall record into the game. But that's precisely what happened at Pegula Ice Arena Saturday night as Penn State shocked Massachusetts 4-3 in overtime thanks to Darian Dempsey's winner.

On the play, completed just 32 seconds into the extra period, Darby Kern rushed UMass goalie Beth Welch in transition. Welch made the initial save, but a late-arriving Dempsey banged home the rebound.

It was Dempsey's second career goal - coming only three periods after her first tied the game at 1-1.

Her opening marker was remarkably similar in appearance to her second. Midway through the first period, Kern found center Meghan Miller exiting the PSU zone. Miller sped at Welch and, like Kern in OT, generated a loose puck for Dempsey to pound home. In addition to the notability of the milestone, it also stood as the Lady Ice Lions' first goal in 213:55 of game time, dating all the way back to the second period of a game against Rhode Island on November 13th.

The Minutewomen, of course, are perennially one of the ACHA's best teams for numerous reasons, and a few of them accounted for the 3-1 lead through 40 minutes that seemed insurmountable thanks in part to a 24-9 shooting advantage for the visitors. Ally Perdios (on the power play) and Brittany Lanzilli (on a messy PSU change) both capitalized to put UMass up 1-0, and then 2-1, in the first period. Perdios added a second and unassisted tally late in the second period off of a turnover.

Penn State, however, dominated long stretches of the third period and began to chip away at the task at hand. First came an effort from the Lady Ice Lions' stellar power play, which finished 1-for-3 and is now 8-for-24 (33.3 percent) on the season. The eight goals on the advantage equal last year's number, collected over 64 tries. Just three seconds from the end of an Erika Von Den Benken tripping call with 13:21 left in regulation, Kern tipped a Liz Tuorinsky drive past Welch to cut the deficit to one.

Tuorinsky did the honors herself on the equalizer, which came in the dire stages and featuring goalie Allyssa Long on the bench with 1:46 remaining. Kern and Miller picked up the assists on the marker by getting the puck to the point.

The stirring rally simply would not have been possible without the work of Long, who limited UMass to three goals on 31 shots in her first career start, after the Minutewomen had scored 19 times in a two-game sweep in Amherst, MA earlier this season.

She joins an impressive list of Lady Ice Lions goalies finding success in their first career starts. In the post-2012 era, it includes:
  • Sarah Eisenhut, in earning a 2-1 win at Michigan State (D2 version) on October 14, 2012
  • Mary Kate Tonetti who, although not technically making her first career start, returned to the crease after a year and a half playing exclusively on the wing and posted a 21-save shutout of Delaware on December 7, 2013
  • Sumire Clevenger made her first start on November 14, 2014 and picked up a win over Slippery Rock
  • Hanna Scanlon entered the fray earlier this season, on November 7, 2015, and shut out Northeastern with 26 saves
The only Lady Ice Lions-era goalie to not win her first start: Aimee Little, who eerily dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to UMass in the opening series of last year's spring semester, on January 11, 2015.

Long's accomplishment, however, came against what is unquestionably the toughest opponent of the bunch and following a stay on the injury shelf reaching back into last season, making it a truly special moment. Throughout her 60:32 of crease time, Long repeatedly demonstrated her hallmarks of elite puck tracking and sprawling pad work. It was her upper body, however, responsible for arguably her most vital save, a shoulder stop on ACHA leading scorer Lanzilli in the waning moments of regulation.

Dempsey, Long and the rest of the team return to Pegula Ice Arena on Sunday afternoon at 12:45 p.m. to attempt a sweep of Massachusetts and, perhaps, the beginning of a new script.

Box Score

First Period
1. Massachusetts, Ally Perdios (Vicki Bortolussi), 15:19 (power play); 2. Penn State, Darian Dempsey (Meghan Miller, Darby Kern), 9:50; 3. Massachusetts, Brittani Lanzilli (Michaela Tosone), 0:09.
1. Penn State, Riley O'Connor (2:00 roughing), 15:44.
Second Period
4. Massachusetts, Ally Perdios (unassisted), 2:29.
2. Massachusetts, Vicki Bortolussi (2:00 tripping), 11:45; 3. Penn State, Liz Tuorinsky (2:00 roughing), 9:38.
Third Period
5. Penn State, Darby Kern (Liz Tuorinsky, Claire Gauthier), 13:21 (power play); 6. Penn State, Liz Tuorinsky (Darby Kern, Meghan Miller), 1:46.
4. Massachusetts, Vicki Bortolussi (2:00 roughing), 19:46; 5. Massachusetts, Erika Von Den Benken (2:00 tripping), 15:18.
7. Penn State, Darian Dempsey (Darby Kern), 4:28.
Penn State: Allyssa Long: W, 28 saves/31 shots. Massachusetts: Beth Welch: L, 16 saves/20 shots.

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