Penn State Punches Past Lakers For Season's First Win

Riley O'Connor had two goals, one assist and one fight

Sarah McGillicuddy scored her first two career goals, while Riley O'Connor added two of her own and an assist as the Penn State Lady Ice Lions topped Mercyhurst 5-4 on Sunday afternoon in Erie, PA to earn a series split.

With the victory, Penn State climbed to 1-5-0 overall, although the Lady Ice Lions remain 0-4-0 according to the ACHA's accounting, as MU is not yet an association member.

McGillicuddy got things going quickly, just 2:19 from the game's opening faceoff. On the play, classmate Erin Bonner won a battle in the left-side corner, and lasered a centering feed to McGillicuddy in the slot. The Tabor Academy product then shelved past Lakers netminder Katie Hill.

The tally - PSU's first of the season - officially buried the team's goal-free drought at 306 minutes, 19 seconds, a record that will hopefully hold up forever.

It also had the effect, unsurprising considering the blue-and-white's built-up frustration, of opening the floodgates a bit on Hill, who stymied the Lady Ice Lions with a 42-save shutout in the series opener.

Senior captain O'Connor went next, finishing a nice passing play from Trish Cierniak and Crosby Deliman from her favorite spot on the ice, near the blue paint, to stake her squad to a 2-0 lead. O'Connor buried again in the first minute of the second period, a goal that pushed her past Dana Heller and Stephanie Feyock into 15th place on Penn State's all-time goal-scoring chart.

The brace was only one third of O'Connor's disputable Gordie Howe had trick.

After the Lakers' Bridget Bork trimmed the PSU lead to 2-1 on the power play, O'Connor found streaking linemate Meghan Miller in transition with 7:22 left in the first period. Miller fired clean past Hill from the high slot to make it 3-1 for the visitors.

Then, with the score standing at 4-1 following O'Connor's second goal, things went off the rails. A routine, mutual entanglement between Miller and Mercyhurst's Megan Young escalated when Young got up first and cross checked Miller in the upper part of her body, twice. A few seconds later, with play exiting the Laker zone, Young took yet another stab at PSU's number 25.

O'Connor had seen enough at that point and engaged with MU's Hayley VandePol and Lexi Burton. A few wild punches were thrown in the scrum, although all three players were given mere roughing minors.

Mercyhurst killed off what ended up being a full two minutes of a Penn State 5-on-3 and gained some traction from there, especially after Maddy Kessy scored in the last minute of the second period to keep her side within arm's length at 4-2 through 40 minutes.

McGillicuddy answered to make it 5-2 five minutes into the final frame, on a spectacular solo effort that saw Hill make saves on consecutive shots, the freshman track down her own rebound each time and skate to a new position, then finally fire home on the third chance.

That goal ended up being rather crucial: Meghan Roche and Young each tallied for the Lakers in the late going, the latter with Hill pulled and Deliman in the box to create a 6-on-4 advantage, turning a comfortable win into a tight one and McGillicuddy's second goal into the game winner.

PSU goalie Emma Shannon made 20 saves to pick up her first career victory. In addition to McGillicuddy's ice breaker, Bonner, Deliman and Syd Foy picked up their first career points via assists.

Next weekend, Penn State will head to a familiar stomping ground, Amherst, MA, to participate in the UMass Showcase through single games against Davenport, Michigan and Liberty. Puck drops for those contests are set for 8:00 p.m. on Friday, 3:00 p.m. on Saturday and 7:00 a.m. on Sunday.

Box Score

First Period
1. Penn State, Sarah McGillicuddy (Erin Bonner), 17:41; 2. Penn State, Riley O'Connor (Crosby Deliman, Trish Cierniak), 13:06; 3. Mercyhurst, Bridget Bork (Hayley VandePol, Megan Young), 11:25 (power play); 4. Penn State, Meghan Miller (Riley O'Connor), 7:22.
1. Penn State, Kate Lombardozzi (2:00 interference), 11:42; 2. Mercyhurst, Hayley VandePol (2:00 cross checking), 5:21.
Second Period
5. Penn State, Riley O'Connor (Syd Foy, Meghan Miller), 18:50; 6. Mercyhurst, Maddy Kessy (unassisted), 0:48.
3. Mercyhurst, Meghan Roche (2:00 hooking), 15:18; 4. Penn State, Erin Bonner (2:00 body checking), 14:44; 5. Penn State, Meghan Miller (2:00 slashing), 13:40; 6. Mercyhurst, Emily Bauer (2:00 slashing), 13:40; 7. Mercyhurst, Megan Young (2:00 cross checking), 7:26; 8. Penn State, Riley O'Connor (2:00 roughing), 7:26; 9. Mercyhurst, Hayley VandePol (2:00 roughing), 7:26; 10. Mercyhurst, Lexi Burton (2:00 roughing), 7:26; 11. Penn State, Syd Foy (2:00 slashing), 2:55. 
Third Period
7. Penn State, Sarah McGillicuddy (Keara Sullivan), 14:43; 8. Mercyhurst, Meghan Roche (Frangelica Bautz), 3:56; 9. Mercyhurst, Megan Young (unassisted), 0:25 (power play).
12. Penn State, Tarika Embar (2:00 interference), 14:16; 13. Penn State, Trish Cierniak (2:00 roughing), 12:20; 14. Penn State, Crosby Deliman (2:00 tripping), 1:15.
Penn State: Emma Shannon: W, 20 saves/24 shots. Mercyhurst: Katie Hill: L, 28 saves/33 shots.

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