Penn State Women’s Hockey Games Grades vs. Mercyhurst

Story posted March 1, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Grant Sheets

One of the best seasons in Penn State history came to an abrupt end in the CHA semifinals on Friday — a narrative that has become all too familiar for the program.

Penn State was defeated 4-2 by Mercyhurst in its own arena, just a month after sweeping the Lakers in a two-game weekend series. The loss marked the fifth straight season in which the Nittany Lions were booted out in the semifinal round.

Recent trends of shaky defense and sloppy offensive mistakes carried over to Friday’s defeat of head coach Jeff Kampersal’s 18-win squad, the highest season victory total in program history.

Ahead of yet another long offseason for the Nittany Lions, here’s a look at their game grades of their CHA semifinal loss.

Offense: B-

In similar fashion to its final series of the regular season, Penn State’s offensive output on Friday was headlined by a high volume of shots, a low number of goals and a hefty amount of missed opportunities.

Despite ripping the puck at goaltender Ena Nystrøm for the entirety of the contest, the Nittany Lions were only able to find the back of the net twice while outshooting the Lakers 45-22.

After opening the game with a 12-6 shot advantage but caught in a scoreless stalemate, the horn sounded off early and often in the second period.

Just under two minutes into the period, Dobson collected a rebound and flicked in a close chip to even the score at one apiece. A couple minutes later, a snipe from Olivia Wallin put Penn State ahead on the scoreboard for the first and only time in the contest.

Penn State continued to apply pressure on the Lakers’ defense, but had no luck putting the biscuit in the basket. A missed power play opportunity and a defense zone turnover leading to a fourth Mercyhurst goal would prove to be daggers in the Nittany Lions’ championship hopes.

Defense: D+

A four-goal performance is never something to write home about as a defensive unit, even though Penn State caught a handful of bad breaks.

However, a lack of blocked shots and overall inactivity on the defensive end didn’t offer much help to goaltender Josie Bothun, who had a down series against RIT in the season finale. The Nittany Lions had just five blocked shots in the contest, compared to the 22 of Mercyhurst.

Fatigue clearly set in during the third quarter, allowing the Lakers to set the tone in terms of pace and score a pair of goals in the final 15 minutes.

Goaltending: C-

CHA Goaltender of the Year semifinalist Josie Bothun struggled most when the season was on the line.

While Bothun could only do so much about the first goal of the game, which hit off the skate of a Laker and into the net, allowing four or more goals in a playoff game on a low volume of shots is not a recipe for success.

Bothun finished the day with 12 saves on 22 shots, allowing four Mercyhurst goals.

Coaching: C

It appeared that Jeff Kampersal made an attempt to raise his team’s intensity at points throughout the game, but the Nittany Lions often looked sluggish and continued their mistake-plagued play.

The lack of defensive energy was evident, something that should have been a focal point throughout the week of preparation after a lackluster offensive performance in their final regular season series.

With yet another semifinal round defeat, it is fair to wonder when Kampersal and Penn State will put it all together for a championship berth. For now, it’s back to the drawing board for the coaching staff.

Grant Sheets is a first-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email