Women’s Hockey Drops Pair Of Tough Games To Connecticut

Story posted October 26, 2015 in CommRadio, Sports by Tom Shively

The Penn State Nittany Lions welcomed the Connecticut Huskies to Pegula Ice Arena on Saturday and Sunday for a two game series.  The Lions lost both games by a one-goal difference and fell to 3-5-0 on the year while the Huskies improved to 3-2-1.

Coming off of two impressive 3-0 shutouts over Union College last weekend, Penn State head coach Josh Brandwene had a tough decision to make: Who should start in goal for the Nittany Lions?

Senior Celine Whitlinger got the start for Brandwene’s squad Friday night in a losing effort, tallying 13 saves to bring her within six saves of the all-time Penn State record (1,802). Whitlinger was unaware of how close she was to the milestone, as she cited one of her teammates informed her how close she is.

“I hadn’t even realized I was that close until [Ali Hardy] mentioned it to me outside in the hallway, I just have other things on my mind at the moment, I try to take things one game at a time,” said Whitlinger.

Perhaps more significant than the 13 shots stopped for Whitlinger was the one she didn’t save, the only goal in this game, a power play goal off the stick of Connecticut sophomore Leah Lum late in the second period.  The assist went to defenseman Jaime Fox on Lum’s first goal of the season.

Goaltender Elaine Chuli had a stellar night for Connecticut, making 28 saves, including 10 clutch saves in the third period to preserve the victory. 

The power play was the difference in this game, with Connecticut going 1-4 while the Nittany Lions failed to convert on all five of their chances.

Laura Bowman and Shannon Yoxheimer led the offensive effort for Penn State in this game with eight and seven shots, respectively.

Both teams opted for a goaltender change in the second game with Annie Belanger getting the start for the Huskies and Hannah Ehresmann in the net for Penn State. Maybe the coaches should have stuck with their original goalies, as offense was much more prevalent in a 4-3 Connecticut win on Sunday.

Senior captain Jordin Pardoski started the scoring for the Nittany Lions one minute into the second period with a power play goal past Belanger.  It was Pardoski’s second goal of the season and gave the Lions their first lead of the series.

Connecticut and Penn State traded goals late in the second period with a sharp shot to the upper left corner off the stick of Jordy Zacharias for the Huskies for her second goal of the season. Then, less than two minutes later, a deflection off of Amy Peterson’s stick for the goal gave the Nittany Lions a 2-1 lead heading into the third period.

Penn State pushed that lead to 3-1 when Hannah England netted her first goal of the season to become the third different Nittany Lion to score in this game.

That lead did not last however, as the Huskies were able to score three goals in the second half of the third period off the sticks of Brittany Berisoff, Caitlin Hewes, and Marisa Maccario to put the Huskies up for good.

Ehresmann tallied 28 saves for the Lions while Belanger was able to stop 31 Penn State shots on goal for the Huskies.

Penn State head coach Josh Brandwene addressed the media postgame about how his team failed to close out this game and what it means for the Lions going forward. 

“Every team faces adversity every year,” Brandwene said. “This is a very resilient bunch and we will improve.”

Penn State travels to Lindenwood next week before returning to Pegula to face Mercyhurst on November 6-7.

Tom Shively is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism.  You can contact him at shivelyt97@gmail.com.