Kern's 50th Not Enough as Davenport Rallies Late, tops Lady Ice Lions

Darby Kern has conducted 50 goal cellies as a Lady Ice Lion

For most of Thursday evening's non-conference contest against No. 14 Davenport at Pegula Ice Arena, the Lady Ice Lions were on the verge of creating a memorable, milestone-filled evening.

Then, within a 7:34 stretch of the third period, an all-too-familiar script played out: a blown lead and a 13th loss this season, as No. 15 Penn State dropped to 3-13-1 by a 2-1 count to the Panthers.

The dramatics this time weren't quite what they were two weeks ago (for example), when Colorado scored six seconds away from a PSU victory before taking the result in overtime, but they were still sufficiently crushing for a team still trying to learn how to take punches and close out games. Adrienne Porcalla served as the away team's villain-in-chief, as the Trenton, MI native accounted for both DU tallies, her 11th and 12th of 2015-16.

With 13:30 remaining in the third period, Porcalla erased a long-standing 1-0 Penn State lead by firing past Allyssa Long from the right circle, set up by defenseman Patsy Howe. She used the opposite side of the ice for the winner seven minutes later, sweeping down the left side before cutting to the front of the net on her forehand.

That move is the trademark of PSU's Darby Kern, who was poised to stand as one of the contest's heros before Porcalla's lighting struck twice. Less than seven minutes from the opening faceoff, Anna Marcus fired the puck to Kern off of the right-side boards near the Penn State line while she and three teammates were on their way off the ice. Kern certainly did a bit more than buy time for a line change though, as she proceeded to skate two zones, shake both DU defensemen, and beat goaltender Karley Ferguson.

It was a typical level of greatness from the senior, with an atypical number attached to it: the bury was the 50th of her career, establishing a new team record and accomplished in just 42 games over two seasons.

On the other end of the ice, a second developing story could be found in Long, who flirted with her first career shutout via 16 saves over the first two periods before succumbing late. One play not counted on her stats was a second-period breakaway from Davenport leading scorer Lexie Boydston where Long's size and positioning forced the usually-reliable sniper to fire high. She finished with 24 saves on 26 Panther shots, setting a new career best for save percentage within a single game.

Really, it was the type of affair where things were clicking all over the ice. Linemates Riley O'Connor and Claire Gauthier found a new level of chemistry, Meghan Miller continued to be one of the team's most quietly-effective players, and Marcus has seamlessly adapted to life on the blueline after a semester abroad and two years playing up front.

Until they weren't. Davenport has sucked a lot of teams into low-scoring games and a false sense of security, including in a recent win over No. 10 Robert Morris. Penn State became the latest victim for a team that tends to find itself in a position to win in the third period despite dressing just 14 players, with Porcalla ultimately swinging a one-goal match in her team's favor. Ferguson also stood out for the black-and-red-clad squad, stopping all but one of PSU's 38 shots.

Each team went 0-for-2 on the power play, with the Lady Ice Lions' second blank chance, on a tripping call to Victoria Dubuc with 3:20 left to correct a one-goal deficit, standing out as particularly frustrating.

One thing that can fix frustration is a fresh sheet of ice and a reset 60-minute clock to skate on it, and Penn State will have that opportunity twice more this weekend. ECWHL rival Vermont will visit on both Saturday and Sunday, with the meetings scheduled for 7:00 p.m. and 12:45 p.m., respectively. Saturday evening will also see the club's annual senior day ceremony prior to the game, with Long, Kern, Sumire Clevenger, Jackie Saideh and Nina Elia all being recognized.

Box Score

First Period
1. Penn State, Darby Kern (Anna Marcus), 13:37.
1. Penn State, Liz Tuorinsky (2:00 roughing), 6:21.
Second Period
Third Period
2. Davenport, Adrienne Porcalla (Patsy Howe), 13:30; 3. Davenport, Adrienne Porcalla (Lexie Boydston, Victoria Dubuc), 5:56.
2. Davenport, Jenny Deane (2:00 roughing), 12:33; 3. Penn State, Liz Tuorinsky (2:00 roughing), 5:56; 4. Davenport, Victoria Dubuc (2:00 tripping), 3:20.
Penn State: Allyssa Long: L, 24 saves/26 shots. Davenport: Karley Ferguson: W, 37 saves/38 shots.

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