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Home Stretch: PSU Returns to Pegula to Face Davenport, Vermont

The Lady Ice Lions will honor the squad's seniors on Saturday



No. 15 Penn State (3-12-1/3-5-1 ECWHL) vs.
No. 14 Davenport (8-11-1/4-8-1 CCWHA)
When
Thursday, January 28th at 10:15 p.m.
Where
Pegula Ice Arena
University Park, PA
The Lead
After a week off, the Lady Ice Lions return to action with a pair of firsts: Davenport as an opponent and Thursday night as a day of the week for a regular-season game.
Live Video
None

No. 15 Penn State (3-12-1/3-5-1 ECWHL) vs.
Vermont (4-8-3/4-3-3 ECWHL)
When
Saturday, January 30th at 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, January 31st at 12:45 p.m.
Where
Pegula Ice Arena
University Park, PA
The Lead
A special group of five seniors will be honored (on Saturday) as the team closes a busy weekend against Vermont, for just the fourth and fifth meetings with the ECWHL rivals.
Live Video
None

Game Notes

Four Score and Seven Games Ago: Seven games ago, on December 4th, the Lady Ice Lions suffered what was unquestionably their ugliest loss of the season: 7-0 at previously-well-defended Pegula Ice Arena against Adrian, a game where Penn State managed just three shots on goal. That contest was the second of three consecutive where PSU was bageled, most of a total scoreless streak of 213:55. It's been quite a turnaround since then, as the Lady Ice Lions have scored four times in four of five games since winter break, including twice against No. 5 Massachusetts and once against No. 1 Liberty. A primary culprit for the outburst has been Darian Dempsey, who has ripped off four goals and six points since being given a larger role as Meghan Miller's right wing this semester. Claire Gauthier, now playing alongside Riley O'Connor, has seen a resurgence of late, with four of her six points this year coming over the last five games.

Blank Space: In a bizarre season generally, few aspects of Penn State's team can match this season's goalie carousel after the stability enjoyed over the last three seasons. From 2012-14, Katie Vaughan chewed up 82 percent of all goaltending minutes, capably backed up by Sarah Eisenhut, while Mary Kate Tonetti was in net 87 percent of the time last year. In 2015-16, injuries and availability limitations have produced a reality where four different goalies have started and finished at least two of PSU's 16 games, but none have played more than six times. Aimee Little leads the pack with 360 total minutes in her six games, while Allyssa Long has largely taken over in the spring semester, posting all of her 242:06 in Penn State's last five games. Sumire Clevenger has spotted throughout the season, with the most recent 60 of her 245 minutes coming on January 16th against Colorado, while Hanna Scanlon played both ends of a November series against Northeastern and remains available on a limited basis.

Kern is Actual Goals: As her senior season marches towards its conclusion, Kern continues to rewrite the Lady Ice Lions record books. Her national-leading 34-27-61 season as a junior established new single-season marks in most categories, while 2015-16 has been mostly about career totals. Thanks to a solid three games in Virginia two weeks ago, she passed winter graduate Devon Fisk's 84 career points and now sits on 88. Kern's next goal will be her 50th - a milestone in its own right - but also topping Fisk's 49 for a new PSU high. For the time being, Fisk's seven game-winning goals record appears moderately safe (Kern has four), although the five power play goals of Carly Szyszko and Madison Smiddy (Kern has three) are slightly less protected. It's worth reiterating that Kern has accomplished all of this in just two ACHA seasons, after spending 2012-14 with Penn State's NCAA team.

Senior Moment: Kern is just one of five seniors who will be honored on Saturday night, as part of the team's annual senior day, along with Long, Clevenger, Jackie Saideh and Nina Elia. Captain Saideh and alternate Elia are noteworthy for coming to Penn State in 2012 just as the Lady Ice Lions were being formed and therefore are the first two players to spend an entire four-year career with the current incarnation of ACHA women's hockey at PSU (Fisk, it's worth mentioning, was also part of that class but graduated in December). Both Elia and Saideh have gotten the most out of those four years as do-whatever-it-takes players who are also cornerstones of the team's culture - Elia has played every game in club history, outside of 14 last fall while she studied abroad, while Saideh has only missed five of the team's 82 matches so far. Long and Clevenger both joined up as juniors in 2014-15 and will remain at PSU through next winter, but have nevertheless made a significant impact in shorter careers, particularly through some trying goaltending times this year.

Ranked and Filed: Last week, with the team off from game action, the ACHA released its third ranking of the year, placing Penn State 15th for the third consecutive period. It remains a long climb to get back to the top eight to qualify for a return trip to the ACHA National Tournament, but the Lady Ice Lions have at least nine games left to make an impact, including pairs with No. 1 Liberty and No. 7 Rhode Island, as well as possible games against URI and No. 5 Massachusetts at the ECWHL playoffs. Ranking 4 will be issued after those playoffs wrap up on February 21st and decides which teams will compete for the national championship in Kalamazoo, MI in March.

Skate for the Cure: Prior to the Lady Ice Lions' first game against Vermont, from 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on January 30th, be sure to come out to Pegula Ice Arena for the team's annual skate in support of Penn State's internationally-renowned IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon. For just a five-dollar admission charge, the skate (hosted in conjunction with PSU's men's ACHA team, the Ice Lions) supports THON's fight against pediatric cancer through the Four Diamonds Fund at PSU's Hershey Medical Center. THON itself, which raised over $13 million last year, takes place from February 19th through 21st.

The (First) Opponent

Name: Davenport University
Nickname: Panthers
Location: Grand Rapids, MI

Series History: Tied, 0-0-0.

About Davenport: It's been an up-and-down season for DU. The ups: a 4-3 road stunner of No. 8 Michigan on October 4th, and an active four-game winning streak that includes a victory over No. 10 Robert Morris. The downs: a nine-game losing streak (entirely against, it must be said, top ten teams) that took the Panthers from nationals bubble team to longshot. Lexie Boydston, Laken Kunz and Adrienne Porcalla have been the primary drivers of DU's offense, accounting for 31 of the team's 52 goals this season, but the team's hallmark is largely defense, with goalies Karley Ferguson and Dawn Salo (with help from blueliners like Jenny Deane and Katie Dubro) limiting opponents to 2.57 goals per game.

Trivia: Grand Rapids, the hometown of former Lady Ice Lion Smiddy, is one of the underrated hotbeds of ACHA women's hockey. In addition to DU, the city is also home to D1 powerhouse Grand Valley State as well as new D2 program Aquinas. Those three programs represent more than five percent of the total count of ACHA-registered teams.

Head Coach: Tom Hofman
Goals Scored Per Game: 2.81
Goals Allowed Per Game: 2.57

Team Website:
http://www.dupanthers.com/index.aspx?path=whockey

The (Second) Opponent

Name: University of Vermont
Nickname: Catamounts
Location: Burlington, VT

Series History: Penn State leads, 3-0-0. No ECWHL opponent has seen the Lady Ice Lions less often than UVM, with PSU sweeping a series at Gutterson Field House to open last season before toppling the Catamounts 4-1 in the ECWHL playoffs third-place game last February. The last game, a suffocating defensive effort with only 12 shots allowed, saw two goals and two assists from Kern, as well as solo tallies from Cara Mendelson and Katie Murphy (who also had a pair of helpers). Kern also posted a 2-2-4 line, including the overtime winner, joining with a Fisk hat trick in overcoming four Emily Ford goals for a 5-4 victory on September 28, 2014.

About Vermont: The Catamounts always present highly-talented teams capable of competing with the best in the ACHA on occasion, although far too inconsistently to be a serious national contender. This season, for example, UVM posted 3-3 ties with both Massachusetts and Rhode Island (the current No. 5 and No. 7 teams) before topping URI 2-1 in overtime on December 6th thanks to two Ford goals. The mercurial star, a World University Games selection last year, has scored 15 times in 15 games this season - exactly half of the team's goal scoring output. At the same time, steady goalies Rosie Gluck, Audrey Currier and Meghan King often keep opponents in position for Ford's offense to be sufficient. Kaly Gonski is UVM's second best goal scorer, with half of her four tallies coming against strong teams in URI and Michigan State.

Trivia: Catamounts defensman Nicole Beaudoin formerly played for NCAA Division III Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA. That fact leads to a bit of an anomaly: Beaudoin faced PSU's Kern (as well as alumni Mendelson, Murphy and Smiddy) during their collegiate careers while each was a member of a different team. On January 4, 2013, Kern picked up an assist of a Kendra Rasmussen goal (with Beaudoin earning a minus on the play) as Penn State's NCAA squad routed Beaudoin and Chatham 10-0.

Head Coach: Robert Lehouiller
Goals Scored Per Game: 2.00
Goals Allowed Per Game: 3.53

Team Website:
http://uvmwomenshockey.pointstreaksites.com/

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