Women’s hockey wins first ever playoff games

Story posted March 2, 2015 in CommRadio, Sports by Trey Cochran

Penn State women’s hockey collected their first two playoffs wins to advance to their first ever CHA semifinal game this weekend.  The Nittany Lions topped Lindenwood, who were also seeking their first ever playoff win in their third CHA season.

The game deciding and only goal was scored in the first period by the Nittany Lions captain. On a power play, Shannon Yoxheimer collected a backdoor goal on a shot-pass from Kelly Seward at the point.

“It was just really good vision from Kelly,” said the junior, Yoxheimer. “She got the puck on the side [boards], took a really nice shot, and I was just able to get in front of the goalie and get a tip in.”

Despite a lackluster performance from the trailing team in the second period, the Lady Lions came out flying in the third period and forced Penn State goalie Celine Whitlinger to make some desperation saves halfway through the final frame.

As the game came to a close, the Lady Lions could not stay out of the sin bin, which made it hard for them to produce scoring opportunities late in the game.

The game ended as a 1-0 shutout for Whitlinger who had 23 saves in her first ever playoff win.

The win also cracked the Nittany Lions’ five-game losing streak.

“[I’m] Incredibly proud of our total team’s effort this evening, great physical effort, tremendous patient, and really good decision making,” said head coach Josh Brandwene. 

Penn State again got the scoring started in the second game when Bella Sutton scored on a dump in from center ice. Lindenwood goalie, Nicole Hensley, could not stop the puck from trickling between her legs to put the Nittany Lions in front.

“I was very surprised,” said the goal scorer, Sutton.

Halfway through the first period, Lindenwood scored its first goal of the series as Carrie Atkinson’s shot from the blue line was deflected in by Lyndsay Kirkham to tie the game at one.

Only two minutes after Lindenwood leveled the game, captain Yoxheimer gave the Nittany Lions the lead when she put home a rebound on the doorstep of the Lady Lions nets.

Sutton extended Penn State’s lead to two goals when the freshman lined up a slap shot that she blew past Hensley with eight minutes left in the middle period.

“Such a well balanced performance today by Bella Sutton, great gap control, steady, poised, [and] great decisions with the puck and she got rewarded for it on the offensive end,” said Brandwene.

The power play goal contributed to Sutton’s first ever three-point and two-goal game.

Lindenwood pressured Whitlinger and the Nittany Lions hard for the remainder of the game. A large amount of the pressure was due to the three penalties Penn State took in the last half of the game.

However, the special teams held up for the Nittany Lions as they closed out the game with a 3-1 win.

“Our theme all year continues to be ‘hold the ropes,’ and that was a total team effort holding the rope for each other,” said Brandwene. “Just so proud of the process, sticking to the game plan, keeping things even keel, and just a great performance today.”

Despite the women being overwhelmingly tired in the locker room following the game, Brandwene said, “it’s a great balance of happiness and looking forward to the next step in the process.”

Penn State will travel to Mercyhurst in Erie, PA to faceoff against the Syracuse Orange in the Semifinals of the CHA playoffs on Friday. . Both teams respectively have a 1-1-2 record against each other this year. If the Nittany Lions beat the Orange they will play the winner of the Mercyhurst versus RIT game in the CHA championship.

Trey Cochran is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email mjc5789@psu.edu.