Penn State Women’s Hockey Series Preview: Holy Cross

Story posted October 8, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Jonathan Draeger

The Penn State Nittany Lions women’s hockey team look to capture its first win of the season as they host the Holy Cross Crusaders for a two-game series at Pegula Ice Arena.

The Nittany Lions find themselves sitting at 0-3-1, after being initially ranked No. 9 in the nation in the USCHO’s preseason polls. The blue and white got their lone draw in the opening series of the season when they tied the St. Lawrence Saints 2-2 after overtime.

The Achilles Heel for Penn State is its power play, which has yet to be successful. In four games this season, the Nittany Lions had 17 opportunities with a player-up advantage; none of them finding the back of the net.
As for their opponents, they have only managed to score once on 10 power-play opportunities. The lone goal was scored by St. Lawrence in Penn State’s first contest of the year.

Another thing Penn State has fallen behind in is the faceoff category. The blue and white find themselves with a .471 faceoff win percentage.

As for goal scorers, the Nittany Lions have scored four total goals, with two of them coming from captain center Natalie Heising. The other two goals come from junior defenseman Mallory Uihlein and freshman defenseman Karley Garcia, who recorded her first collegiate goal in game two against St. Lawrence.

In the blue paint, sophomore goaltender Josie Bothun has surrendered just seven goals in the first four games of the season. Her save percentage is set at .909, while the goaltenders taking on the blue and white are posting a .970 save percentage.

On the other side of the ice, the Holy Cross Crusaders find themselves 0-2 on the season after losing their opening series to the runner-ups of the NCAA Women’s Frozen Four: The Northeastern Huskies. They even dropped their exhibition game 2-0 against Boston University.

Over their two games, Holy Cross has yet to convert on the power play, given their nine opportunities. In return, they have given opponents 10 opportunities for a power play, with two of those opportunities cashing in for goals.

The Crusaders have had 37 total shots, with none of them lighting the lamp. As for their opponents, they have managed to score 11 times on 106 shots on net, lowering the team’s save percentage to .896.

Holy Cross has used two of their goaltenders already, with sophomore Madison Beck playing in both games and senior Jada Brenon starting the home opener for the Crusaders. Beck posts a .833 save percentage, while Brenon has a .913 save percentage to her name.

As a team, the Crusaders have a .416 faceoff win percentage, taking 47 out of the 66 total faceoffs over the two-game span.

What to look for in this series is the power play. Both teams seem to be struggling immensely, with no one having scored with the player-up advantage.

Alongside the power play, control of the puck on faceoffs seems to play a huge factor. More faceoffs won tend to lead to more opportunities to get the puck on net.

If Penn State wants to turn its season around and capture another CHA title they need to start to play like they did last year and that could happen with this upcoming series.

Jonathan Draeger is a second-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. You can find him at jrd6052@psu.edu.