Trio Flourishing for Nittany Lions

Story posted January 24, 2013 in Sports, CommRadio by Ross Insana

While there have been many peaks and valleys throughout the Nittany Lions 2012-2013 season, it seems as if one thing has been constant game in and game out; the performance of the Jess Desorcie, Taylor Gross and Shannon Yoxheimer line. Desorcie has possessed the significant task of being the line’s center with Gross and Yoxheimer flanking her wings.

Like a set of puzzle pieces, the three of them bring various attributes to their game that easily complement each other and has become the main cog of the offensive attack. Surprisingly enough, this was not the case right from the get-go of the monumental season as freshman Emily Laurenzi began the season centering Gross and Yoxheimer with Desorcie beginning her season off with speedy role-playing and hard-nosed freshman Birdie Shaw and Micayla Catanzariti.

Desorcie, Gross and Yoxheimer have combined to make up the first power play unit for the Nittany Lions all season but never saw any extended playing time together during even strength situations early in the season.

“You need to find a good balance on a line and our line does a very good job at mixing everything”, said Desorcie

As time progressed and changes were being made along the way, the trio was united during the big 14 goal, two-game dominant home series over Sacred Heart. From them on out the rest has been history. The line “officially” made their game debut together, via the official game line charts, on the November 11 home matchup against in-state and fellow College Hockey America conference foe Robert Morris despite an eventual 7-1 loss.

“It definitely didn’t take us long to adapt because we started getting used to each other and producing goals quickly”, said Desorcie.

Of the 39 Nittany Lion goals scored since that November 2 and 3 Sacred Heart series, 13 of them have been by way of at least two of the three collecting points. The three of them as a whole have produced 31 points in those 14 games together; Yoxheimer with six goals and six assists, Gross with two goals and eight assists and Desorcie with four goals and five assists.

Desorcie, the two-way player of the dynamic trio, has exhibited a style of play with great playmaking like Gross and good defensive capabilities. She has made her grand entrance to her first Division I season by making her game heard with overlooked qualities such as her smart hockey IQ, poise and vision on the ice. In addition, as Daily Collegian Beat Writer Lee Cary put it in his December 6 article on her, Desorcie has been an underrated quiet leader for the Nittany Lions.

The Westford, Vermont native has been leading by example and her prior experience playing collegiate hockey with Division III Connecticut College has made her one of the older and more experienced assets. Not only that, she gained valuable knowledge and time with the Penn State women’s club hockey team towards the back end of the 2012 season to help acclimate her with Penn State and the eventual transition to Division I hockey. The multi-faceted sophomore sits at five goals and 10 assists in 21 games played.

“It has given me more confidence now knowing who I am playing with and that we can make things happen at the Division I level,” said Desorcie. “I’ve even learned from both of them to be more patient because both of them are very aggressive players.”

Gross, the fearful leader and well-rounded playmaker for the Nittany Lions, has brought along with her prior NCAA leadership and experience playing at UConn her freshman and sophomore years. She was anointed the highly prestigious captaincy by Brandwene over the summer with the responsibility resting on her shoulders as the first captain in Penn State Division I women’s hockey history. Her guidance for the young team and the “been there, done that” mentality has been impeccable for what is a 17 freshman-laden Nittany Lion team.

Desorcie also stressed how important Gross’ speed and communication has been a staple for the line’s success. Gross currently has four goals and 14 assists on the season and is tied for fourth in the CHA conference in assists.

“I look up to Taylor a lot because she’s obviously had the experience and helped me want to achieve the most that I can and make it transfer out onto the ice”, said Yoxheimer on Gross’ influence on her game.

Yoxheimer’s impact on the team was met with instant success, as she was able to grab the first goal in program history in the very first game of the season against Vermont. Her easy goal-scoring touch along with her sniper shooting mentality has pegged her as one of the most exciting players to watch not only for this season, but for the preceding three years to subsequently follow. She has been arguably the Nittany Lions best player and most powerful weapon to date this season, putting together staggering numbers in what is only her freshman season.

The Jackson, Michigan native leads the team in goals and points, 12 and 23 respectively, putting her third in the CHA conference and tied for 12th in all of NCAA Division I women’s hockey in goals. Her numbers also have her sitting at fifth in the CHA and tied for 19th in the NCAA in points. Even the early accolades speak volumes as to what she’s accomplished already having been named the CHA’s Offensive Player of the Week for the week of October 14 to 20 and the conference’s Rookie of the Month for November.

“I love playing alongside them”, said Yoxheimer. “I would give them just as much credit for my success as I do myself because without them I wouldn’t be able to put the puck in the net like I have.”

Gross even emphasizes how despite her guidance, Desorcie and Yoxheimer themselves have stepped up and become imperative to the team’s everyday matters on and off the ice.

“Both of them have done a good job on their own becoming leaders of this team too.”

With the leadership and playmaking abilities of Gross, two-way play of Desorcie and Yoxheimer’s lethal scoring touch and knack for putting the puck in the net, the formidable trio has resulted in the Nittany Lions’s go-to line to wreak offensive havoc. With ten of the last 11 games of the regular season against conference opponents in Syracuse, Mercyhurst, Lindenwood, RIT and Robert Morris, the strong team chemistry and their offensive firepower are pivotal down the stretch and into the CHA tournament in March

Ross Insana is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, e-mail rxi5007@psu.edu.