Penn State Women’s Hockey Series Grades vs Mercyhurst
One week after only securing three of four points against a struggling RIT Tiger team, No. 12 Penn State returned to the ice against Mercyhurst for another critical CHA series.
The Nittany Lions entered the two-game series in first place with the Lakers trailing by three points in the five-team conference. Those first place Nittany Lions took care of business in Erie, extending their lead to seven points in the conference.
Here is a look at how each of the positional groups fared in Penn State’s series sweep.
The best way to get the offense going is by securing puck possession and coming off of a game where the Nittany Lions scored two goals on 41 shots, the Nittany Lions needed to get their offense going.
That puck possession came rather easy for Penn State, which won 79-of-120 (65.8%) of faceoffs in its two victories over Mercyhurst. The success of the forwards dressed in blue and white to establish control of the puck led to the ability to shoot.
The ability to shoot the puck was something the Nittany Lions took advantage of especially in game one. Of their 38 shots, five of them found their way into the back of the net, as the Nittany Lions scored five goals for the first time since putting up 11 against Syracuse in early December.
Julie Gough and Kiara Zanon both scored two goals in the opener while Olivia Wallin recorded one as well for the blue and white. In game two, while the scoring did not start until the third period, Zanon scored for the eighth consecutive contest while Tessa Janecke became the third multi-goal scorer of the series for Penn State.
The defensive pairings do not have many blemishes on their records lately as the Nittany Lions allow on average 2.1 goals against and have not allowed more than two goals in their last five games.
That streak was extended to five games with another impressive showing this weekend following a weekend in which they only allowed 29 shots over two games. This time around despite allowing more shots, 42, the blue and white defense was still keeping the pressure off of goaltender Josie Bothun.
A main reason for that was the ability to get into the shooting lanes and block shots. Led by Kendall Butzee, who had eight blocked shots, the Nittany Lions blocked 42 shots over the weekend, the same amount that the Lakers were able to get on goal.
One week after playing in only the opener against RIT, junior netminder Josie Bothun was between the pipes for both games against Mercyhurst.
The Minnesota native lived up to her season averages, allowing four goals on those aforementioned 42 shots for a .905 save percentage and a goals against average below two as game two went into overtime.
Bothun reached the 50-win plateau as the final horn sounded on Sunday as she continues to cement herself in program lore. When she picked up her 51st career victory on Monday afternoon, she improved her season record to 17-8-1 with a 2.04 goals against average and .916 save percentage.
Penn State picked up its 18th win of the season, but more importantly they picked up all four possible points in the CHA standings.
Though the Nittany Lions picked up the wins, they were undisciplined going to the box nine times over the two games, including six times in game two. While the Nittany Lions were able to kill off seven of the nine penalties, one of the goals the unit allowed tied the finale up at one apiece.
Though the penalty kill yielded two goals, it also scored one of its own as Zanon’s third goal of the series was of the short-handed variety.
As for the power play, Penn State was successful on two-of-four opportunities in game one, a success rate that any coach would be happy with. But in game two, the five-on-four unit failed to capitalize on any of its three chances.
Kampersal and the Nittany Lions are 8-0-1 over their last nine games dating back to November, over a pivotal six-game stretch to end the season, Penn State will need to be ready.
Justin Ciavolella is a second-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.