Penn State Set to Host Annual Visit by Archrival Rhode Island

Riley O'Connor continues to climb Penn State's career scoring charts

Penn State (1-8-0/0-0-0 ECWHL) vs.
No. 15 Rhode Island (3-3-0/0-0-0 ECWHL)
Friday, November 10th at 10:15 p.m.
Saturday, November 11th at 10:00 a.m.
Pegula Ice Arena, University Park, PA (Friday)
Galactic Ice, Altoona, PA (Saturday)
The Lead
A new season begins as the Lady Ice Lions open ECWHL conference play with the annual home series against archrival Rhode Island

Game Notes

Ranking Riley: Senior captain Riley O'Connor has definitively shaken off the statistical slump of her junior season, as her five goals and six points so far this year lead the team and have already eclipsed her 2016-17 totals. Her output, both projected and actual to date, has the Boothwyn, PA native poised to wrap up her career among the best to ever skate at Penn State. Her 27 career goals are tied for 12th in team history with Lauren Johnston '06, and two more tallies will jump her over Becky Holmes '05 into sole possession of 11th place. Meanwhile, her 52 points are tied for Holmes for 14th ever, with Faryn Shapiro '04 and her 57 up next.

Big Toona: Saturday morning's game, at Galactic Ice in Altoona, marks a return of the Lady Ice Lions to their "auxiliary home," used in case of scheduling conflicts at Pegula Ice Arena (in this case, a blackout due to a home Penn State football game back in University Park). The team has been mostly successful at Galactic Ice, with a 3-1-0 record since the 2012-13 season. The most recent game, however, was the loss - a 3-0 result against then-No. 2 Massachusetts on October 15th of last season. Meg Lydick made 41 saves in the game (including two shorthanded breakaways and a penalty shot in quick succession), but goals from Michaela Tosone, Serena Nally and Sonja Klumpp provided the margin for Bill Wright's squad.

Feels Like the First Time: So far this season, Sarah McGillicuddy (October 29th against Mercyhurst) and Trish Cierniak (November 3rd against Davenport) have scored their first career goals, while goalie Emma Shannon has collected her first win (also on October 29th against Mercyhurst). Non-rookies still looking for their first markers include Kate Lombardozzi, Keara Sullivan and Dina DuBac,

Rhody Rivalry: For most around the Penn State program, and despite Massachusetts winning each ECWHL playoff championship since PSU's return to the league in 2014-15, Rhode Island stands as the team's biggest rival. A lot of that is due to the Lady Ice Lions'/Lady Icers' general lack of success against the Keaney blue-clad opponents: the Rams have taken 11 meetings in a row, and 12 of 13 since the 2014 ECWHL return, and had a previous 34-2-1 run against PSU from 2003-12. However, this season marks one of the first times over that entire era when Rhody hasn't entered a series with Penn State as heavy favorites. The Rams are presently ranked 15th and have results so far that have tracked very similarly to PSU's so far, including a blowout loss to Liberty, a close loss to Davenport, and a somewhere-in-between loss to Michigan last weekend at the UMass Showcase.

The Opponent

Name: University of Rhode Island
Nickname: Rams
Location: Kingston, RI

Series History: Rhode Island leads, 46-7-1

About Rhode Island: The Rams qualify as one of the ACHA's blue bloods - quite literally, given their colors - thanks to the school's nine ECWHL tournament championships and 12 ACHA National Tournament appearances (fourth best nationally), along with other factoids like URI never having been left unranked in the ACHA national poll since its inception in 2003-04 (in fact, the Rams never fell out of the top ten until last season).

This year's team is in a bit of a rebuilding stage following the recent graduations of some of the more decorated players in the program's storied history. Still around and offering major contributions are key seniors like forwards Monica Darby, Casey McCormick and Lexie Stefekos, along with defenseman Michelle Monet. The younger generation is highlighted by sophomore dynamo Madison Balutowski (team-high 28 goals last year, team-high six points this year), tough-as-nails Brynne Costa and freshman Jill Gonsalves up front, along with Tea Williams and Emma Gerike, a former Princeton Tiger Lilies player, on defense. Goaltender Abbey Torres is among the more underrated in the ACHA.

URI has played six games this season, shutting out NCAA Division III's Johnson & Wales 1-0 and topping a pair of ACHA Division 2 opponents, before going 0-for-3 last weekend at the UMass Showcase against the same Liberty, Davenport and Michigan teams Penn State faced.

Head Coach: Ashley Pagliarini
Goals Scored Per Game: 1.67
Goals Allowed Per Game: 2.50

Team Website: http://www.uriwhockey.pointstreaksites.com/

Penn State Lady Ice Lions: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram