Valiant Penn State Effort Just Shy of Top-Ranked Liberty Once Again

Katelyn Trask scored her second career goal on Saturday night

Katelyn Trask scored on a second-period power play and Meg Lydick repeatedly stymied top-ranked Liberty through 42 saves, but it was not enough as the Flames withstood a second consecutive upset bid from the Lady Ice Lions and skated away with a 3-1 win Saturday evening in Pegula Ice Arena.

In some ways, the Penn State effort was similar to Friday night's 4-1 loss in that the squad received fantastic efforts up and down the lineup to keep the 2015 ACHA champions within reach.

There was, however, one key difference. While that first game was close but somewhat unattainable in the late going, this one seemed like a lost opportunity at that same stage.

Liberty took a 2-0 lead into the locker room after the first period, thanks to a pair of late-frame tallies separated by just 38 seconds. Rachel Gibson went first, potting a rebound shortly after Emily John misfired on a breakaway. Alex Smibert then scored the first of her eventual two goals off of another play started by John, this one an end-board rebound.

The latter goal came with Trisha Cierniak in the box for slashing, punishing PSU for a situation that, in hindsight, could have been much, much worse. The Lady Ice Lions took the first six penalties of the game, including three bridging the first and second periods that produced two 5-on-3 opportunities for the Flames, both killed.

Then a funny thing happened: Liberty took the last seven penalties of the game to help Penn State not only get back into the contest, but also leave it feeling like something may have been left on the table.

Trask made the score 2-1 on the first of those power plays, after Jordan Chiavacci drew a slash against Courtney Gilmour, putting home a deft pass from Meghan Miller, after Riley O'Connor started the play with a wraparound attempt.

But even with the other six penalties occurring over the last 22:51 of the game, including 1:14 of 5-on-3 time at one point, that's as close as Penn State would get.

Smibert restored the Liberty advantage to two with 13:26 remaining in the third period on a controversial goal. After Lydick was unable to cover a loose puck in front, the LU freshman bowled her way to the front and - it was ruled after a lengthy conversation - got the puck across the line.

A close call on the other end involved the Gilmour checking O'Connor into goalie Rosie Kelly on a play in front with 3:11 to remaining. The Flames star sat for it, as did Kelly, who was injured on the play and gave way to Kelly Hutton, but PSU was unable to convert on what would be its last power play, finishing 1-for-6 on the evening.

Up next, for the first time in the post-2012 era, Penn State, now 3-16-0 overall, will take on an NCAA Division III. That challenge comes in the form of Lebanon Valley College, this coming Friday and Saturday. The first contest, scheduled for historic Hersheypark Arena, is set for 7:00 p.m., while the next day's game will be at 5:35 p.m. back in Pegula Ice Arena.

Box Score

First Period
1. Liberty, Rachel Gibson (unassisted), 5:22; 2. Liberty, Alex Smibert (Emily John), 4:44 (power play).
1. Penn State, Kate Lombardozzi (2:00 holding), 19:10; 2. Penn State, Katelyn Trask (2:00 slashing), 11:38; 3. Penn State, Trisha Cierniak (2:00 slashing), 5:04; 4. Penn State, Kate Lombardozzi (2:00 hooking), 1:20; 5. Penn State, Liz Tuorinsky (2:00 hooking), 0:02.
Second Period
3. Penn State, Katelyn Trask (Meghan Miller), 13:24 (power play).
6. Penn State, Rachel Cole (2:00 slashing), 18:44; 7. Liberty, Courtney Gilmour (2:00 slashing), 14:20; 8. Liberty, Mackenzie Carroll (2:00 hooking), 2:51; 9. Liberty, Tara Lee (2:00 tripping), 0:37.
Third Period
4. Liberty, Alex Smibert (unassisted), 13:26.
10. Liberty, C.J. Tipping (2:00 high sticking), 10:03; 11. Liberty, Tiana Lisle (2:00 body checking), 9:17; 12. Liberty, Rachel Gibson (2:00 body checking), 7:12; 13. Liberty, Courtney Gilmour (2:00 body checking), 3:11.
Penn State: Meg Lydick: L, 42 saves/45 shots; Liberty: Rosie Kelly: W, 18 saves/19 shots; Kelly Hutton (3:11 3rd): 3 saves/3 shots.

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