Despite Strong Start, Lady Ice Lions Fall to Defending Champ Liberty

Claire Gauthier posted a goal and an assist on Sunday

On January 18, 2015, the Lady Ice Lions stunned top-ranked defending national champion Miami 4-3, a result that played a large role in cementing Penn State's status as a national contender last season.

On January 17, 2016, the Lady Ice Lions stunned top-ranked defending national champion Liberty...for 40 minutes.

Nobody said the current edition of the squad was not a work in progress.

Catharine Burrell and Lauren McDonald each scored twice, both in rapid fire succession and at key moments of the game, as always-powerful Liberty held off Penn State's early surge to win 8-4 on Sunday morning. The loss drops PSU's weekend count to 0-3-0 and its season one to 3-12-1.

The end result only came about after quite a gut punch from the visitors, who led 2-0 at the first intermission. One day after Darby Kern gained the team's all-time scoring lead, she equaled Devon Fisk's 49 goals just 24 seconds from puck drop. Red Line center Meghan Miller found Kern driving the middle for the bury past Rosie Kelly.

Claire Gauthier potted the second PSU goal with 2:53 remaining, on a backside rebound of a Kelly Watson drive and with Nina Elia helping to divert Kelly's attention.

The Lady Ice Lions' power play attempted to add to the lead early in the second but were rudely greeted by Carrie Jickling, as one of last year's Zoe M. Harris Award finalists ripped the puck away on the forecheck and sniped shorthanded. Shortly after, Chelsey Greenwood buried from the slot off of a deflected pass to tie the game. However Darian Dempsey, who entered the game with five points in four games since being moved to Miller and Kern's right wing this semester, had a reply in store. The Michigander put back a Kern rebound to restore the lead at 3-2 over halfway through the game.

It was at this juncture that Burrell's explosion proved vital for the Flames. She tied the game back up just 30 seconds later, then gave LU its first lead 1:18 after that after PSU's Allyssa Long made an initial save but left an uncleared rebound dancing in the crease.

Penn State wasn't done yet, though. Late in the second period, a penalty to Burrell resulted in a much better power play than the one that produced the Jickling goal. This time, it was a blue jersey scoring, senior captain Jackie Saideh, on a rebound effort from Gauthier.

With the game deadlocked at the second intermission, LU received the McDonald burst, which ultimately proved decisive. Just over one minute into the third period, she poked through off a scramble in front. Then, off of the ensuing faceoff, the speedster from Midhurst, Ontario stole the puck and broke in alone for the Flames' sixth goal.

Courtney Gilmour and C.J. Tipping added tallies to round out the game's scoring. Long finished with 38 saves in defeat, while Kelly made 18 stops of Lady Ice Lions attempts.

PSU will now enjoy next weekend off from games, as the team will next be in action on Thursday, January 28th against Davenport at Pegula Ice Arena. The coming days will not be devoid of news though, as ACHA Ranking 3 is scheduled for mid-week, with hopes for a rise from the 15th slot largely dependent on last week's upset of No. 5 Massachusetts.

Box Score

First Period
1. Penn State, Darby Kern (Meghan Miller), 19:36; 2. Penn State, Claire Gauthier (Kelly Watson), 2:53.
1. Penn State, Darby Kern (2:00 body checking), 10:32; 2. Liberty, Chelsey Greenwood (2:00 roughing), 7:04.
Second Period
3. Liberty, Carrie Jickling (Catharine Burrell), 18:19 (shorthanded); 4. Liberty, Chelsey Greenwood (Lauren McDonald), 12:22; 5. Penn State, Darian Dempsey (Darby Kern), 7:55; 6. Liberty, Catharine Burrell (Carrie Jickling), 7:25; 7. Liberty, Catharine Burrell (Brittany Hymers), 6:07; 8. Penn State, Jackie Saideh (Claire Gauthier), 4:14 (power play).
3. Liberty, Courtney Gilmour (2:00 cross checking), 19:33; 4. Penn State, Tarika Embar (2:00 tripping), 16:43; 5. Liberty, Catharine Burrell (2:00 tripping), 4:57.
Third Period
9. Liberty, Lauren McDonald (Nikki McCombe, Chelsey Greenwood), 18:49; 10. Liberty, Lauren McDonald (unassisted), 18:42; 11. Liberty, Courtney Gilmour (unassisted), 14:19; 12. Liberty, C.J. Tipping (Carrie Jickling, Chelsey Greenwood), 7:09.
6. Liberty, Katie Comeau (2:00 tripping), 12:23; 7. Penn State, Liz Tuorinsky (2:00 boarding), 12:11; 8. Liberty, Lauren Pillisch (2:00 tripping), 0:07.
Penn State: Allyssa Long: L, 38 saves/46 shots. Liberty: Rosie Kelly: W, 18 saves/22 shots.

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