Penn State Women’s Hockey 2021 Preview
After a historic 2020 campaign, the Penn State Nittany Lions are once again heading into the new season as the favorites to win the CHA.
Penn State achieved new heights, clinching its first ever CHA regular season championship. Even though they fell short in the playoffs, the Nittany Lions posted a program best 16-3-2 record last year. They are now going to play a full 34-game season.
Leading the charge, once again, will be fifth-year forward Natalie Heising. She was terrific posting up 20 points, which ranked fifth in the conference. Along with the potent goal scorer Olivia Wallin. She led the CHA with 13 goals and looks to use her quick and accurate shot to lead in goal scoring once again.
However, the story of last season was Kiara Zanon. She was outstanding in her rookie campaign, leading the CHA with 30 points in 21 games.
The sophomore forward was also named the ACHA Rookie of the Year. Over the summer, Zanon was invited to the USA Hockey Women’s National Festival. With one year under her belt, the Fairport, New York native is expected to have another point per-game season.
The foundation of this team is still going to rely heavily on Josie Bothun. The sophomore was a brick wall in net, posting a .944 save percentage and a 1.44 goals-against average. She was named the Women’s USCHO.com Goaltender of the Year.
The question now is if she can replicate last season. Bothun was not supposed to be the starting net-minder going into last season. Jenna Brenneman did not play due to injury, and Bothun won the starting job. It is safe to say that she will be the number one from here on out.
This roster did not have any significant losses in the offseason, so the core is still intact. Which means that expectations are still very high for head coach Jeff Kampersal. The goal this year is to make the NCAA tournament.
The Nittany Lions are still going to be playing a style of hockey that relies on speed and skill. They will be a tough team to play against.
Penn State was the best defensive team in the CHA, only giving up about one goal per-game.
The Nittany Lions are still going to be dominant this year, but it will be interesting to see how they play against non-conference opponents. Penn State goes up against tough opponents of the likes of Boston College and Minnesota Duluth. Both of those matchups will test the depth of the Nittany Lions.
Penn State will kick off its season against the St. Lawrence Saints. The Nittany Lions will be playing in front of fans for the first time in almost two years. They will raise their CHA championship banner high tomorrow night.
Jacob Cheris is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.