Only Gone for a Minute, Man: Penn State Heads Back to Amherst

UMass' Kelly Dolan (left) and PSU's Dina Dubac (right) will renew acquaintances this weekend

Penn State (1-10-0/0-2-0 ECWHL) vs.
No. 8 Massachusetts (7-5-0/0-0-0 ECWHL)
Friday, November 17th at 7:50 p.m.
Saturday, November 18th at 9:20 a.m.
Mullins Center
Amherst, MA
The Lead
Penn State resumes ECWHL play and looks to get to a 2-2-0 conference mark during a second trip to UMass in three weeks

Game Notes

It's Always Gameday Somewhere: This weekend's games wrap up one of the busiest fall semester stretches in team history. Beginning with the October 28th-29th series at Mercyhurst, the Lady Ice Lions have been in action for four straight weekends and nine games in all, nearly half of the 22 total regular-season contests. Such stretches are not uncommon after winter break (Penn State played an identical one late last season, in fact), but are much less common during the season's first half that is generally interrupted by things like Thanksgiving break and major PSU home football games, which the team avoids when scheduling. The last fall semester run matching the present one in terms of both consecutive weekends and total games took place between October 20th and November 18th, 2007. Coincidentally, that cluster also involved four weekends and nine games, also involved a non-ACHA opponent (Cornell), and also involved a trip to a showcase at an ECWHL rival's rink (Rhode Island, to play the Rams, UMass and Nichols College).

On an Island: Last weekend's series against Rhode Island marked 2017-18's halfway point in terms of games played, as PSU has now completed 11 of the 22 scheduled regular-season contests. Goaltender Emma Shannon, so far has made 352 saves and logged 658:13 in goal. Projecting her final season total by doubling those numbers gives 704 and 1316:26, respectively, counts that would place Shannon among the most prolific single-season goalies in team history. The 704 saves would edge out Mary Kate Tonetti's 2014-15 for third pace by two, behind Meg Lydick (842, 2016-17) and Katie Vaughan (769, 2011-12). Meanwhile, 1316:26 would rank fifth behind those same seasons by Lydick, Tonetti and Vaughan, as well as Heather Rossi's 2009-10 and Tara Wheeler's 2003-04.

Getting There: Last Friday against URI, Sarah McGillicuddy's goal gave the Lady Ice Lions a 2-1 lead 4:01 into the third period, before Madison Balutowski tied things up for the Rams with 7:37 left and Monica Darby grabbed the winner with 2:55 remaining. Nevertheless, the outcome was measurable progress as the latest PSU has held a lead against a current ACHA Division 1 team (which excludes squads like Mercyhurst, Lebanon Valley College, Vermont and Northeastern) since January 16, 2016. In that contest, played at Liberty's LaHaye Ice Center, Penn State led then-No. 13 Colorado 4-3 into the dying stages of the third period. However, Buffs star Leah MacArthur fired the tying goal past Allyssa Long with just six seconds remaining and CU went on to win in overtime, thanks to Monica Patten.

Sarah Mac Attack: McGillicuddy, a Tabor Academy product, has scored four times with an assist in her first 11 games, which ranks among the best career starts by a freshman in recent memory. Her company in the category is rather impressive as well. In 2015-16, Meghan Miller and Caitlin Costello started their careers with a bang, as Miller logged four goals in her first six games, and October 2015 ACHA Rookie of the Month Costello posted a 7-4-11 line in 11 games before leaving the team after one semester. Riley O'Connor and Claire Gauthier headlined the 2014-15 freshmen, with O'Connor scoring her fourth and fifth goals in her tenth game en route to nine for the season, while Gauthier went 1-5-6 through her first 11 games before fully hitting her stride at that year's ACHA National Tournament with a trio of tallies.

The Opponent

Name: University of Massachusetts Amherst
Nickname: Minutemen
Location: Amherst, MA

Series History: Massachusetts leads, 26-13-3 (since 2002-03)

About Massachusetts: UMass, the three-time defending ECWHL champions, entered the season pointed towards a first national championship after falling two wins shy of the goal this past March, after a 1-0 loss to Liberty in the ACHA semifinals. Things started well enough in that regard, notably including an overtime win at now-No. 3 Michigan State on Jojo Olson's winner. A few routs of ACHA Division 2 opponents and tolerable losses at now-No. 1 Adrian were also a part of the early mix.

The Minutemen, however, were dealt a major blow a few weeks ago, via an upper-body injury to senior captain Brittani Lanzilli. Lanzilli's career, among the best in ACHA history, includes the 2015-16 Zoe M. Harris Award, the ACHA Division 1 scoring title in both that season and in 2016-17, and a bronze medal with the U.S. National University Team this past February. Another key absence is junior Katy Turner, who is presently studying in Hawai'i.

It's been a bit up and down since the Lanzilli injury, as UMass participated in a pair of showcases - one on their home rink that Penn State also attended, another last weekend at Robert Morris - and came out of them with a combined 3-3-0 record, including a loss to thirteenth-ranked RMU that saw the Minutemen cough up a late lead and surrender the winner with 33 seconds remaining.

Until they once again have a full lineup after the new year, UMass will rely on Amber Greene, arguably the ACHA's best goaltender, and a deep lineup to keep the squad afloat, in nationals contention, and primed for a late run. Olson, who enjoyed a breakout season as a sophomore and already has 11 goals and 16 points this year, is expected to help lead the way in that regard. Juliana Dolan, unrelated Kelly Dolan, Meghan Lawler, Shannon Nagle and Courtney Sullivan are also important pieces up front (Lawler had a goal and three assists in four games against PSU last season, trailing only Lanzilli and Olson among returning players). Club president Tatum Schulz and Meredith Gallagher capably anchor a blueline recovering from the graduation of former Team USA player Vicki Bortolussi.

Head Coach: Bill Wright
Goals Scored Per Game: 3.42
Goals Allowed Per Game: 2.58

Team Website: https://umasswomensicehockey.teamapp.com/

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