|Heather Rossi (front row, center) will attempt to impress NWHL scouts at a league camp next weekend|
Former Lady Icers goaltender Heather Rossi was one of 23 players invited to a National Women's Hockey League free agent camp that will take place in Newark, NJ from June 10th through 12th, the league announced on Thursday.
Rossi, following stops at NCAA Division I Robert Morris (PA) and then-ACHA Division 1 Lindenwood (where she won a national title in 2008-09), wound up at Penn State for her junior and senior years from 2009 through 2011.
In 2009-10, the native of Kunkletown, PA was a second-team All-American while leading what was still a rebuilding Lady Icers program to the ACHA National Tournament for just the second time since 2004. While playing nearly all available minutes, she posted a 0.911 save percentage and a 2.69 goals against average against a schedule packed with top teams including ten games against Rhode Island, Robert Morris (IL) and Lindenwood, which finished as the top three teams in Division 1 that year. Rossi shut out Liberty 1-0 at nationals on March 12, 2010, which is still PSU's last victory at the D1 tourney.
Future Lady Ice Lions standout Katie Vaughan joined the Lady Icers in 2010-11 and teamed with Rossi to form a goaltending tandem that starred not only in central Pennsylvania, but on the international stage as well. The duo played for the 2011 U.S. National University Select Team, which finished fourth at the World University Games in Erzurum, Turkey. Rossi was central to one of the team's highlights, stopping 34 of 36 shots against a Finland team that went on to win the silver medal and featured several players from the Finnish team that won bronze at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Each of the NWHL's four teams has one goalie under contract for 2016-17 right now, leaving four of the eight expected goaltender roster spots open league-wide. Rossi previously was invited to a free agent camp with the New York Riveters last summer, when each team hosted separate camps prior to the NWHL's inaugral season. With one season now under its belt including full player rosters and incoming 2015 draft picks, the camp schedule for those attempting to catch on with North America's first paid women's hockey league was scaled back this summer.
The invite list was also sprinkled with familiar names of Penn State opponents, including Rhode Island graduate Sydney Collins, who concluded her spectacular collegiate run in 2015-16 with a first-team ACHA All-American nod and 121 career points. Miami alumna and two-time Zoe M. Harris Award winner Hayley Williams - who was an NWHL all-star while playing for the Buffalo Beauts last season but remains unsigned for 2016-17 - will also be there.
Paige Harrington, who spent the 2011-12 season with the Lady Icers before finishing her ACHA career opposing the Lady Ice Lions with Massachusetts, has already re-signed with the Beauts for 2016-17 after helping Buffalo to the NWHL final this past spring. Rossi is seeking to become the third former Lady Icer to play professionally joining Harrington and 2002 graduate Andrea Lavelle, who skated with the Beatrice Aeros of a previous, unrelated league also called the NWHL during the 2002-03 season.
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