Freshmen Shine on Sunday, but UMass Completes Sweep, 5-2

Freshman Erin Bonner scored her first career goal to add to classmate Sarah McGillicuddy's sixth, but the Lady Ice Lions were once again unable to keep pace with UMass on Sunday morning, as the Minutemen completed a series sweep by a 5-2 count in Amherst, MA.

Penn State, with the defeat, wrapped up its first round of ECWHL competition at 0-4-0, part of a 1-12-0 overall mark. No. 8 UMass, meanwhile, is now tied with Rhode Island for first place with a 2-0-0 league mark and is 9-5-0 overall.

After Hannah Sullivan staked the Minutemen to a 1-0 lead on the power play, McGillicuddy continued her torrid stretch in the latter stages of the first period with another of her specialties: a multi-zone transitional effort that involves walking one or two opposing defensemen. In this case, after taking from Syd Foy, McGillicuddy outraced both Minutemen defenders into their zone down the left side, before sweeping behind them and tucking the puck barely underneath the outstretched left pad of Amber Greene.

Since scoring her first and second career goals at Mercyhurst on October 29th, McGillicuddy has notched all six of her markers over PSU's last eight games.

She is also quickly climbing the ranks of prolific goal-scoring freshmen in recent team history. Since 2006-07 when Alicia Lepore scored an obscene 81 goals as a freshman (a record for all players that will likely live forever), Tess Weaver's 14 in 2011-12 stands as the best rookie total at the ACHA Division 1 level. Riley O'Connor and Claire Gauthier scored nine apiece as freshmen in 2014-15, while Devon Fisk (15), Mandy Mortach (11) and Geneva Wagoner (11) each cracked double digits at the Division 2 level in 2012-13 or 2013-14.

UMass, as was the case all weekend, had a quick answer as Jojo Olson scored her third of what would eventually be four total goals during the series, just 1:29 after McGillicuddy's score, with this one coming through a Kelly Dolan helper.

The Minutemen were productive on the advantage all weekend, finishing 5-for-13 over the two games (while holding PSU to 0-for-11), and they would take advantage of their hot special teams to salt things away during the second period, eventually carrying a 5-1 lead into the intermission.

With O'Connor off for body checking early on, Meghan Lawler gave the home side a 3-1 edge by banging home a backside rebound from Olson, with Kelly DeMarco initially feeding it low. Two Lady Ice Lions penalties later, Sandra Bienkowski sniped top shelf from high between the circles, while Jojo Olson tacked on an even-strength goal with 1:24 remaining on a crisp backhand.

The third period was marred early on by a serious injury to Dolan, who gained a half step behind Trish Cierniak and looked to get an attempt on goaltender Emma Shannon. Cierniak was forced to hook the attacking UMass player, which caused her to tumble into the end boards, where she remained on her back for roughly 20 minutes before being carried off.

Once PSU killed the major penalty tagged to Cierniak for the play, the blue and white played a sturdy final 14 minutes, highlighted by Bonner's goal with 6:36 remaining. McGillicuddy was once again the center of attention for part of the play, earning an assist by dangling to the slot. She momentarily appeared to be broken up by the UMass defense, but the loose puck found the stick of Bonner, who slammed it through Greene to set the contest's final margin at three.

With a tough stretch of nine games over four consecutive weekends completed, the Lady Ice Lions will now enjoy Thankgiving break away from school, before returning to action at 8:00 p.m. on December 8th against Mercyhurst in Pegula Ice Arena.

Box Score

First Period
1. Massachusetts, Hannah Sullivan (unassisted), 13:31 (power play); 2. Penn State, Sarah McGillicuddy (Syd Foy), 6:05; 3. Massachusetts, Jojo Olson (Kelly Dolan), 4:36.
1. Penn State, Syd Foy (2:00 hooking), 15:08; 2. Massachusetts, Jojo Olson (2:00 interference), 12:21.
Second Period
4. Massachusetts, Meghan Lawler (Jojo Olson, Kelly DeMarco), 15:39 (power play); 5. Massachusetts, Sandra Bienkowski (Hannah Sullivan, Meredith Gallagher), 4:14 (power play); 6. Massachusetts, Jojo Olson (Olivia Knight), 1:24.
3. Penn State, Riley O'Connor (2:00 body checking), 15:52; 4. Penn State, Katelyn Trask (2:00 high sticking), 13:51; 5. Massachusetts, Hannah Sullivan (2:00 tripping), 8:31; 6. Penn State, Sophie Paolizzi (2:00 hit from behind), 4:47.
Third Period
7. Penn State, Erin Bonner (Sarah McGillicuddy), 6:36.
7. Penn State, Trish Cierniak (5:00 hooking), 18:56; 8. Massachusetts, Bench (2:00 too many players, served by Isabel Aluia), 13:20; 9. Massachusetts, Sandra Bienkowski (2:00 hooking), 11:07; 10. Massachusetts, Gabby Martinez (2:00 interference), 5:01; 11. Penn State, Sarah McGillicuddy (2:00 slashing), 0:59.
Penn State: Emma Shannon: L, 25 saves/30 shots. Massachusetts: Amber Greene: W, 22 saves/24 shots.

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