Elementary: Watson Drives PSU To Smooth Consolation Victory

Kelly Watson had a career day with three goals and two assists

It's right there in the name: consolation game.

One thing is implied by that name, another is more directly stated. The first thing, of course, is that there has been some sort of negative happening that requires consoling. Usually in sports, that means a loss in the semifinals of a tournament, which is what happened to Penn State on Saturday against Rhode Island.

But the more applicable piece for PSU on Sunday morning in Amherst, MA might be the consolation earned through a win in that game. There isn't a trophy involved, nor does it build into anything for next week, but it was still something positive that that program desperately needed to close the 2016-17 season.

The opponent for the ECWHL third-place match was Northeastern, undermanned but still capable of danger, especially when keeping in mind that the Lady Ice Lions needed a late Rachel Cole winner in their only previous meeting this season.

Not so much this time.

Kelly Watson - who had six career goals and 18 career points in three season entering the game - scored three times and added two assists, and received support from markers by Liz Tuorinsky, Tarika Embar, Meghan Miller and Darian Dempsey, as Penn State crushed the Huskies by a 7-1 count.

Tuorinsky went first, midway through the opening period and 33 seconds into what would turn out to be Penn State's only power play of the game. Miller fed the puck high and right in the defenseman's wheelhouse for one of the former New Jersey Rocket's rocket-like blasts.

At 1-0 after the first period, the sense in the locker room was that more could still be done. More was then done, pretty definitively.

Watson grabbed her first just 25 seconds into the second period, firing clean through from the top of the left circle, from a Katelyn Trask feed. Six minutes later, right after her promising-looking rush was foiled by an offsides call, Cassie Dunne fired on from center point. Northeastern goalie Tessa Griffin (who closed with 41 saves) was up to the task on that shot, but not on Embar's falling rebound putback.

Lady Ice Lions captain Watson finished her hat trick bridging the second and third periods, on Penn State's fourth and fifth goals. The middle tally, with 4:48 remaining, came from the defenseman carrying the puck most of the length of the ice and creating a 2-on-1, then leaving for Lucy Yeatman in the right circle. She then followed Yeatman's shot to the net and pushed home the rebound. A more conventional goal for a defenseman followed that, with Cole grabbing the primary assist.

Although she was done scoring goals at that point, Watson wasn't done contributing offensively in the late stages of the rout. Penn State piled on goals six and seven in the closing minutes, first with Miller finishing off Watson's shot, then with Dempsey's snipe off of right wing, with a secondary apple there finishing off the junior's five-point outing.

Notably, three of the five Lady Ice Lions' seniors - Dunne, Yeatman and Dempsey - recorded scoring stats in the final game of their respective careers. While Anna Marcus and Jordan Chiavacci did not, it certainly wasn't for a lack of chances, as each turned in a quality effort throughout.

Northeastern's only goal came off of the stick of Christina Grassie, with Sophie Paolizzi serving a second-period tripping penalty. It made the score 3-1 at that point, but ultimately proved to be chewing gum patching cracks in a dam.

Penn State finishes the campaign at 7-19-1 overall, a modest improvement from 2015-16's 5-20-2 but with - in light of last year's 7-2 consolation game drubbing by Vermont - a much, much better feeling at the end of it.

Box Score

First Period
1. Penn State, Liz Tuorinsky (Meghan Miller), 11:47 (power play).
1. Northeastern, Meaghan McDougall (2:00 hooking), 12:20.
Second Period
2. Penn State, Kelly Watson (Katelyn Trask), 19:35; 3. Penn State, Tarika Embar (Cassie Dunne), 13:30; 4. Northeastern, Christina Grassie (Catriona Hong), 11:41 (power play); 5. Penn State, Kelly Watson (Lucy Yeatman, Rachel Kapoian), 4:48.
2. Penn State, Meghan Miller (2:00 slashing), 17:31; 3. Penn State, Sophie Paolizzi (2:00 tripping), 12:33; 4. Penn State, Liz Tuorinsky (2:00 body checking), 1:41.
Third Period
6. Penn State, Kelly Watson (Rachel Kapoian, Rachel Cole), 17:35; 7. Penn State, Meghan Miller (Kelly Watson, Sophie Paolizzi), 14:20; 7. Penn State, Darian Dempsey (Liz Tuorinsky, Kelly Watson), 4:00.
5. Penn State, Cassie Dunne (2:00 hooking), 9:35.
Penn State: Meg Lydick: W, 16 saves/17 shots; Northeastern: Tessa Griffin: L, 41 saves/48 shots.

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