Penn State to Try Firefighting This Weekend at No. 1 Liberty

Penn State (0-2-0/0-0-0 ECWHL) at
No. 1 Liberty (3-0-0/Independent)
Saturday, October 14th at 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, October 15th at 11:00 a.m.
LaHaye Ice Center
Lynchburg, VA
The Lead
Penn State attempts to bounce back from an 0-2-0 start and get the 2017-18 season on track by upsetting top-ranked Liberty on the road.

Game Notes

Zeroed Out: Although the Lady Ice Lions have often struggled to score goals in the last couple seasons, when Penn State failed to find the net in last weekend's season-opening series against Miami, it was nevertheless just the fourth time that PSU has been shut out for an entire series since returning to ACHA Division 1 in 2014-15. The previous instances were October 10-11, 2014 at Massachusetts, December 4-5, 2015 vs. Adrian and October 14-15, 2016, again vs. UMass. There is a bit of a silver lining to be found in the first item of that list: Penn State rebounded from the early-season double bagel to go 13-6-2 the rest of the way and qualify for the ACHA National Tournament. If a similar turnaround is in the cards for 2017-18, players like freshmen Crosby Deliman (coincidentally a product of the same Pittsburgh Penguins Elite program as 2014-15 leading scorer Darby Kern '16) and Sarah McGillicuddy, along with upperclass leaders Riley O'Connor and Meghan Miller are likely to be central to the effort.

A Carousel of One: Freshman goaltender Emma Shannon made her collegiate debut in the aforementioned games against the RedHawks, and was extremely solid in making 74 combined saves and giving PSU at least a puncher's chance of upsetting the defending national champions. As the only goalie on the Lady Ice Lions' roster, the Downingtown, PA native will be a focal point of the team all season and central to its fortunes. Although it's very, very, very early, she's already on pace to challenge Meg Lydick's still-new season saves record (the pace is 814 when including only regular season games, the mark to beat is 842, which included playoff games) as well as just about anything else based on logging a hefty number of minutes.

Get Used to This: With series scheduled between Penn State and Liberty for both the LaHaye Ice Center and Pegula Ice Arena this year, as well as one additional game set at the UMass Showcase next month, the Flames will be the first opponent PSU has ever played five times in one regular season. When including league playoffs and nationals, five is not an uncommon number - there have been four scheduled meetings between most sets of ECWHL opponents over the years, making any playoff encounter a fifth game. The Lady Ice Lions even hit six on both California (PA) and Delaware in 2013-14, with four regular season meetings followed up with College Hockey East playoff and ACHA National Tournament games in each case. But five head-to-head matchups with any one opponent prior to playoffs is unprecedented, until now.

Penn State has played Liberty five times overall once before, in 2009-10. The teams split those contests 2-2-1, with Penn State taking a January 30th overtime win at the Greenberg Ice Pavilion on an Alicia Lepore '10 goal, then a 1-0 result at that year's ACHA National Tournament, with Sam Summers '14 notching the game's only score.

Tiger Lilies Reunion: Given Liberty's always-very-Canadian roster (18 of the 24 Flames hail from the northern neighbors at the moment) and the fact that Penn State hasn't rostered a Canadian since 2002 graduate Andrea Lavelle, it's extremely rare for the players on these two teams to have much prior history. However, an exception presently exists in the form of LU freshman defenseman Kristi Serafin. The Doylestown, PA native spent time prior to college with the Princeton Tiger Lilies program. While she's a few years younger than, and therefore was usually an age classification removed from, notable PTL alumni Riley O'Connor and Cassie Dunne '17, Serafin has played with O'Connor's younger sister Kellie, along with Madison Dwyer and her sister Sam.

The Opponent

Name: Liberty University
Nickname: Flames
Location: Lynchburg, VA

Series History: Liberty leads, 21-7-2.

About Liberty: The Flames have found themselves in a familiar spot - at the top of the polls - to begin the 2017-18 season, as LU hopes to qualify for the ACHA semifinals for the sixth straight season and win their second national title. This edition of Liberty's squad will look very familiar to those who saw LU visit Pegula Ice Arena four times late last season: a massive class of then-freshmen, now-sophomores makes up half of the roster, and partly as a result, this year's incoming group is much smaller, just four freshmen and two transfers from NCAA Division III Finlandia University. While ACHA all-time great Carrie Jickling has graduated and long-time coach Paul Bloomfield gave way to Chris Lowes over the offseason, most of the Flames' standouts are back, including speedster Lauren McDonald, All-American defenseman Clarissa Tipping and big-goal scoring Chelsey Greenwood. Liberty's three ACHA games so far took place in the St. Louis area last weekend, a sweep of No. 12 McKendree (1-0) and No. 4. Lindenwood-Belleville (twin 3-1 counts).

Head Coach: Chris Lowes
Goals Scored Per Game: 2.33
Goals Allowed Per Game: 0.67

Team Website: http://www.liberty.edu/campusrec/clubsports/index.cfm?PID=25959&TeamID=3

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