Both the men’s and women’s hockey teams were back in action at the Greenberg this weekend. The men faced off against ACHA rival Ohio, earning a solid 6-1 win Friday night and had a spirited comeback win 5-3 in Saturday night’s matchup. The women took on No. 7 Mercyhurst in a rematch when the two teams last played each other in late November and dropped both of their games to the Lakers, 5-2 on Friday and 4-1 Saturday.
The men’s first game of the weekend actually took place in Hershey, Pa. at the GIANT Center in front of a mostly Penn State crowd. The Bobcats got the early lead a little over six minutes into the first frame off of forward Nick Rostek but the Nittany Lions were able to bounce back with six unanswered goals of their own. Casey Bailey netted two, Kenny Brooks had one goal and two assists, Connor Varley had two assists, David Glen got one to the back of the net as well, and combined the team went +20 for the night with 37 total shots reaching Ohio’s goaltender. The game was a great defensive showing for the Nittany Lions as well, allowing only 14 shots to reach netminder PJ Musico and blocking six additional Bobcat shots.
Saturday’s game at home started off similarly to Friday’s, with the Bobcats taking a lead early in the first period, this time just less than two minutes into the frame. However, Casey Bailey and George Saad would counter for the Nittany Lions with two goals in under three minutes to give Penn State their first, but not only lead of the game. A quick goal in the beginning stages of the second period for Ohio would tie the game at 2-2 but after a scoreless frame afterwards, the Bobcats would grab their second lead of the night with a Brett Agnew goal just 38 seconds into the third. Ohio wouldn’t get the lead back again after Peter Sweetland capitalized on a Bobcat defensive error and turned the tables in favor of the Nittany Lions. Curtis Loik and Casey Bailey would cap off the scoring to make the rallying comeback complete with a final score of 5-3. Goalie Matthew Skoff faced a fair number of Ohio shots – 37 of them – and was able to stop 34 for the win. While the wins feel nice, the two games against Ohio do not count in the standings so the team still sits at 10-13-0 for the season.
Meanwhile, the women’s team had a rematch against No. 7 Mercyhurst starting Friday night at the Greenberg. Penn State was in trouble early, giving up a three goal lead to a deadly Laker team. However, the Nittany Lions tightened up and scored two goals on the Laker goalie, Stephanie Ciampa. Hannah Hoenshell notched her eighth goal of the season at 6:21 in the second frame and Jordin Pardoski added a power play tally that, at the time, put the game almost within reach at 4-2 to Mercyhurst. However, the Lakers were able to hold on to the win despite Penn State’s late game surge. Celine Whitlinger was in net for the Nittany Lions and played an outstanding game, saving 59 shots on 64 attempts. The Nittany Lions were also better in the shot category in this game than they have been recently, getting 19 shots to the net.
Saturday’s game started off rough with four unanswered Mercyhurst goals. PSU goalie Nicole Paniccia was able to stop all 11 Laker shots in the first period and did end up saving 46 of the Lakers’ 50 shots. Jill Holdcroft scored her ninth goal this season on the power play with three seconds to go in the game to break Penn State’s shutout. The Nittany Lions totaled 12 shots on goal and had another 5 blocked by the Mercyhurst defense. The spirited effort by the team fell short; however, and the two losses for the weekend put their record at 7-19-1 this season.
The teams will both remain at home this upcoming weekend. The men will face Alabama Huntsville on Friday and Saturday night at the Greenberg and the Chargers are currently 3-17-1 this season. Both games have a 7:30PM start time. As for the women, they will face Lindenwood in another rematch series. Last time these two teams met, Lindenwood won 5-1 in the first game but lost a shocker 3-2 in the second, which is the Nittany Lions only conference win this season. Those games will both have a 2:00PM start time as well. Take the opportunity if you’re in the area to check out these matinee and evening games and they are sure to be entertaining matchups. Also, make sure to check me out on Twitter for all of your Penn State hockey news and statistics!