CHA Championship Game Grades

Story posted March 6, 2023 in CommRadio, Sports by Justin Ciavolella

For the first time in program history, Penn State can hang a Conference Hockey America championship banner in the rafters of Pegula Ice Arena.

On home ice the Nittany Lions defeated Mercyhurst 2-1 behind an overtime goal off the stick of Julie Gough. Not only did that clinch the blue and white its first CHA title, but also its first NCAA Tournament bid.

While Penn State starts its preparation for a battle with No. 8 Quinnipiac on Thursday evening, let’s take a look at how each positional group fared for the Nittany Lions.

Forwards: B+

The Gough overtime winner was the epitome of what the Nittany Lions forwards did all game, win faceoffs and take shots off of those faceoffs.

It was freshman Tessa Janecke winning the offensive zone draw for Penn State that went out to Gough on the boards before she made a move to the net and beat Ena Nystrom on a top corner strike.

The Nittany Lions won 42-of-69 faceoffs led by Janecke’s 21 wins in 28 attempts. Those same Nittany Lions fired 36 shots and while Gough and Eleri MacKay were the only two scorers, it wasn’t due to a lack of attempts.

Nystrom showed on 34-of-36 shots why she was named the CHA Goaltender of the Year as she was the main reason that the Lakers kept the game close and got it into overtime.

Defense: A

It is said that defense wins championships, and in the case of Penn State’s championship run that might just ring true.

In 19 games against conference opponents, including the CHA Tournament, the Nittany Lions defenders yielded just 28 goals for a goals against average of 1.47. That included just six goals over their final seven games, including the three goals allowed during postseason action.

This time around it was the blue and white defenders taking away the shooting ability of Mercyhurst. The Lakers got just 19 goals onto Josie Bothun in net, in large part due to the 14 blocks that the Nittany Lions recorded.

Possibly the most important aspect of the Nittany Lions defensive presence was the fact that the Lakers took zero shots in the sudden-death overtime period.

Goaltending: A

There is no better backbone to a strong defense than a strong goaltender. For Penn State, that combination comes to fruition with the netminding abilities of Josie Bothun.

Bothun came away with big save after big save throughout the regular season and it was no different in this contest.

The junior goaltender allowed just one goal on 19 shots en route to her 26th victory of the season, though none was more important than this championship one.

Following the game, the Minnesota native was named the CHA Tournament Most Valuable Player as she picked up three wins in three attempts while allowing just three goals on 53 shots.

Coaching: B+

It was a slow start for Jeff Kampersal’s team and it took until overtime to get the job done, but the sixth-year head coach had his team ready for the big moment.

When the lights shine brightest, it's easy for players to try to do too much, but Kampersal kept his team disciplined as they drew just one penalty. Though the penalty was for too many players on the ice, the Nittany Lions killed it off while allowing just one shot.

The bench boss from Massachusetts will make his third career NCAA Tournament experience, but this time with a program making its first. He’ll look to use his experience to keep his team disciplined and ready to go just like it was for the CHA Championship.

Justin Ciavolella is a second-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email