Lady Ice Lions Much Improved Sunday, but Liberty Takes Series 7-2

Liz Tuorinsky offered two points to the Penn State effort

Liz Tuorinsky scored on the power play and added an assist, but the Lady Ice Lions were once again overwhelmed by defending national champion Liberty in a 7-2 defeat on Sunday afternoon at Pegula Ice Arena.

With the loss, Penn State concludes its regular season with a 4-18-2 overall record, while remaining 4-8-2 in the Eastern Collegiate Women's Hockey League. The top-ranked Flames, who play as an independent, are 18-1-0 en route to an attempted title defense in Kalamazoo, MI next month.

Tuorinsky's goal was vintage for the strong freshman from New Jersey and cut the score to 5-1 midway through the second period. Just eight seconds after LU forward Lauren McDonald took her place in the penalty box on a holding call, Meghan Miller tied up an offensive faceoff. Darian Dempsey won the loose puck and kicked it out to Kelly Watson at the point. Watson then fired across to Tuorinsky for the launch past Kelly Hutton.

Roughly eight minutes of game time later, this time at even strength, Tuorinsky's pass set off Darby Kern and Jackie Saideh in transition. After a nifty back-and-forth passing effort between the latter two, Saideh buried her sixth goal of the year in the captain's final competitive game at Penn State's $90 million ice arena.

Both goals were worthy highlights, but the Flames once again offered too much firepower for the hosts. Carrie Jickling scored the opening two goals of the afternoon, first on a drive from the left circle set up by Courtney Gilmour, then on a breakaway. Gilmour later added two goals to a standout contest, while Chelsey Greenwood followed up on her four-goal Saturday night with one more on Sunday, along with two helpers. McDonald added assists of Jickling, Nikki McCombe and Catharine Burrell as Liberty tossed dirt on things relatively quickly, jumping out to a 5-0 advantage early in the second period.

In one of those moments that means little for a contender, but something more for a team trying to learn lessons and grow into being one, renewed Lady Ice Lions tenacity forced LU to a 2-2 stalemate over the last 34 minutes of the game, offering at least some promise that a reversal of fortune might not be a multi-year process.

Hanna Scanlon got the nod in goal, and made 32 saves on 39 shots in her first loss of the season. Hutton stopped 12 of 14 PSU tries during an increasingly chippy match that saw eight penalties over the final 32 minutes after none in the first 88 of the weekend. The hosts finished with the Tuorinsky goal in three power play tries, while the Flames fired in two from four attempts.

Up next, the squad will travel to the ECWHL playoffs in Amherst, MA to close the 2015-16 campaign. Penn State will face Northeastern in a first-round game on Friday at 8:00 p.m. With a win, the Lady Ice Lions would advance to face regular season champ Rhode Island in a semifinal at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. The third-place (9:00 a.m.) and championship (12:00 p.m.) then follow on Sunday.

Box Score

First Period
1. Liberty, Carrie Jickling (Courtney Gilmour), 16:44; 2. Liberty, Carrie Jickling (Lauren McDonald, Tara Lee), 7:40; 3. Liberty, Nikki McCombe (Chelsey Greenwood, Lauren McDonald), 0:03.
Second Period
4. Liberty, Courtney Gilmour (Chelsey Greenwood), 17:18; 5. Liberty, Catharine Burrell (Lauren McDonald, Lauren Pillisch), 14:17; 6. Penn State, Liz Tuorinsky (Kelly Watson, Darian Dempsey), 11:36 (power play); 7. Liberty, Chelsey Greenwood (Brittany Hymers, Nikki McCombe), 5:32 (power play); 8. Penn State, Jackie Saideh (Darby Kern, Liz Tuorinsky), 3:09.
1. Liberty, Lauren McDonald (2:00 holding), 11:44; 2. Penn State, Tarika Embar (2:00 tripping), 6:58.
Third Period
9. Liberty, Courtney Gilmour (Catharine Burrell), 3:58 (power play).
3. Penn State, Riley O'Connor (2:00 slashing), 15:12; 4. Liberty, Madison Fischer (2:00 interference), 14:22; 5. Liberty, Lauren McDonald (2:00 tripping), 12:35; 6. Liberty, Courtney Gilmour (2:00 roughing), 9:40; 7. Penn State, Darby Kern (2:00 roughing), 5:39; 8. Penn State, Riley O'Connor (2:00 cross checking), 2:39.
Penn State: Hanna Scanlon: L, 32 saves/39 shots. Liberty: Kelly Hutton: W, 14 saves/16 shots.

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