Penn State (3-16-0/3-9-0 ECWHL) vs.
Lebanon Valley (2-17-0/Independent)
Friday, February 3rd at 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, February 4th at 5:35 p.m.
Friday: Hersheypark Arena - Hershey, PA
Saturday: Pegula Ice Arena - University Park, PA
Penn State takes on a history-making challenge, as the Lady Ice Lions battle an NCAA squad for the first time in team history.
DIII Debut: This weekend marks the first time in the post-2012 era that Penn State has played an NCAA varsity team - or any non-ACHA team, for that matter. While the unknowns in such a situation are many, Penn State's previous team, the Lady Icers, did have a fairly robust track record against NCAA competition. In 2011-12, the team played 11 games against varsity opposition, winning one (in overtime over NCAA Division I Sacred Heart), tying two (both vs. Division III's Chatham) and holding six of the eight losses within two goals. In the SHU contest, future Lady Ice Lions Carly Szyszko, Cara Mendelson, Allie Rothman, Katie Murphy, Katie Vaughan, Sarah Eisenhut and Mary Kate Tonetti all dressed, with Rothman assisting on Sara Chroman's opening goal and Vaughan making 26 stops. The Lady Icers also played both Chatham and Neumann, another DIII squad, somewhat regularly during the team's formative years, but neither appeared on the schedule between 2004-05 and that 2011-12 campaign.
Get Shorty: Last Friday against top-ranked Liberty, Riley O'Connor bagged a shorthanded breakaway goal to tie the Flames at 1-1 in the second period. It was the first shorty by the team since Mendelson's forechecking takeaway-and-snipe at Liberty on December 5, 2014. Even with ace penalty killers like Devon Fisk and Geneva Wagoner during the WIHC's pair of ACHA Division 2 seasons, PSU has only managed one other shorthanded goal in its five years, by Darby Kern against Slippery Rock on November 14, 2014.
Power Up: On the other side of Penn State's special teams, Katelyn Trask tapped home a backside power play goal against Liberty in the back half of the series on Saturday. The tally, the second of Trask's career, was undoubtedly a welcome sight for coach Patrick Fung, who has struggled to find life in his inconsistent power play that is occasionally very effective, but also prone to long droughts. Cassie Dunne has five PPGs this year but, of course, is presently out of the country, competing at the World University Games in Kazakhstan. Removing her production from things, Trask's goal was the first since Rachel Cole's late winner at Northeastern on November 20th.
The Big Stage: Friday's game will take place in Hershey, PA's Hersheypark Arena, a venue with quite a bit of hockey history behind it, including a little bit related to Penn State, as outlined in a feature here on Monday. However, there's one other notable piece of information about the storied barn: it's the second-largest building the WIHC has ever played in. A 7,286 seats, it beats out other contending venues like Northeastern's Matthews Arena, Vermont's Gutterson Fieldhouse, Michigan State's Munn Ice Arena and, of course, Pegula Ice Arena. The only building with more seats to host the Lady Ice Lions is the 8,387-seat main arena at Massachusetts' Mullins Center, which hosted a PSU-UMass contest on October 11, 2014 (typically, UMass plays its home games at the smaller rink next door).
Name: Lebanon Valley College
Nickname: Flying Dutchmen
Location: Annville, PA
Series History: Tied, 0-0-0.
About Lebanon Valley: The first-year NCAA Division III program has, not unexpectedly, struggled early on as it tries to build its numbers and talent level - presently the team carries 14 players, 11 of whom are freshmen. The Dutchmen are 2-17-0 overall, picking up a pair of wins against fellow NCAA newcomer Post back in November. One major bright spot for LVC has been the play of goaltender Jillian Moffatt, who has a 0.935 save percentage while facing a bombardment of historic proportions. Moffatt has 1,056 saves this season, just 146 behind the DIII record set by Johnson & Wales' Kami Weiner last year (LVC has just two NCAA games remaining, both against Post, so Weiner's record is likely to stand). Moffatt, a Toronto native, has put up single-game save counts of more than 70 nine times this year, including a high of 92 in a 4-2 loss at Sacred Heart last Friday. Offensively, Liz D'Ginto and Nicole Lloyd have led the way with twin 6-3-9 stat lines, while MacKenzie Bokina and Eleanor Donaher also have nine points on four and two goals, respectively.
Head Coach: Isabel Menard
Goals Scored Per Game: 1.21
Goals Allowed Per Game: 5.26
Team Website: http://godutchmen.com/index.aspx?path=whockey
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