Dunne Invited to 2017 World University Games Evaluation Camp

Senior defenseman Cassie Dunne has a chance of representing the Penn State Women's Ice Hockey Club on the world stage, as she been selected for the Team USA World University Games Evaluation Camp.

The camp will help select the final 22-player roster for the biennial World University Games tournament, set for January 28th through February 6th in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The US has group stage games scheduled for January 29th against Russia and January 31st against Japan, and hopes to finish in the top two of that three-team pool in order to advance to the semifinals on February 4th. Twenty-eight of the ACHA's top American players, including Dunne, were chosen for evaluation.

Camp opens in Chicago on December 28th in Chicago with an evening practice. The next day will be its busiest, with a morning practice followed by an exhibition game against the noted Chicago Mission U19 AAA team at 4:00 p.m. central time. After the game, the invitees will board a bus for St. Louis. On December 30th, on-ice activities will close with another morning practice in the Gateway to the West followed by a second exhibition game, against Lindenwood University's NCAA Division I team. Departure for each player's respective home is scheduled for early morning on the 31st.

Dunne, a speedy and vocal alternate captain who is also the club's president, has excelled both this season and throughout her career. Her four 2016-17 goals, all on the power play, lead the Lady Ice Lions and notably include an overtime winner at Vermont back on October 1st. She is tied for the program's all-time lead in scoring on the advantage both for a career and within a single campaign.

"We're extremely proud of Cassie's invitation and opportunity to continue Penn State's long line of contributions to the national university team," Penn State head coach Patrick Fung said. "I know the WUG coaching staff has gone to extraordinary and exhaustive lengths to find and evaluate the right players for this camp and there isn't a more fair way for those 28 athletes to earn the opportunity to represent the United States."

For Dunne, selection for the final team would represent achieving a long-time goal.

"The summer after my sophomore year I worked at lululemon athletica in Philadelphia," she explained. "During my on-boarding experience I went through many training sessions, many of which asked you to think about the vision you have for your life in 20 years and what goals you want to accomplish in the next five, ten or 15 years to get yourself to that life vision. Immediately, I put 'going to the World University Games' on my list of goals for the next five years.

"As soon as I received the invitation to camp, I called my parents and my mentor from lululemon. I was so excited that I could share this news with those people in my life who have supported my goals, especially my athletic ones. It’s an amazing feeling to have one of them at your fingertips."

This edition of the team will be picked and coached by 1998 Olympic gold medalist Shelley Looney, with Miami head coach Scott Hicks and Adrian's Brett Berger serving as assistants. Looney and Hicks are participating in their second WUG after assisting Kristen Wright, then of Colorado, two years ago when Team USA finished fifth. USA Hockey's Katie Holmgren is the squad's general manager.

Dunne is vying to become the seventh Penn State player selected for the games while with either the Lady Icers or Lady Ice Lions. Goaltender Katie Vaughan headlines the list through being picked in both 2011 and 2013, the latter turn resulting in a historic bronze medal. Heather Rossi, Lindsay Reihl and Denise Rohlik joined Vaughan on the 2011 team, while defenseman Madison Smiddy went to Granada, Spain for the most recent tournament in 2015. Penn Staters have generally been far more than mere participants when picked - in addition to Vaughan's status as the starting goalie for a podium squad, Smiddy was fourth in her tournament in defense scoring, including an assist on an overtime winner in a come-from-behind victory over Kazazkstan. Rohlik's four points ranked her fifth on the 2011 team.

Former Lady Icers head coach Mo Stroemel was the head coach of both the 2011 and 2013 WUG teams.

Through Dunne, PSU is also hoping to continue its status as one of the ACHA's best contributors to Team USA. The six players picked for WUG to this point trail only Massachusetts, Miami and Michigan, while Penn State is one of four schools - Michigan, Rhode Island and Michigan State are the others - to have at least one player on the team each of the three times the US has sent a women's team to the tournament. Neither Michigan nor Rhode Island are represented among the camp selections, giving Penn State the chance to remain in what would be an even more exclusive club.

She recognizes, however, that selection to the camp is not the intended final destination, and that at least one more cut from the nine defensemen invited is likely. The previous editions of World University Games women's team have carried seven, eight and eight defensemen.

"I am so close to reaching my goal," she explained. "The determination is setting in now more than ever. I plan to prepare myself for camp by training with my team, as well as some extra workouts on my own. I have been working with Pat these past couple of weeks to address what I personally need to work on on the ice during practice and drills. I need to be prepared to have both a practice and a game within one day and play my best at both.

"I am honored to be selected for camp, but reaching and accomplishing my total goal is just around the corner and I cannot wait to play my heart out for it. My dream of being selected for World University Games has been on my mind since I was a freshman."

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