A 3-0 shutout loss to the RIT Tigers Saturday afternoon has officially ended the Penn State Nittany Lions’ 2013-14 hockey season. The shutout came in game two of the first round of the CHA tournament in Rochester, N.Y. against the third-seeded Tigers in a best-of-three series. The sixth-seeded Nittany Lions lost game one Friday night 3-2 in overtime.
Senior Nicole Paniccia took her final start in net of the season for Penn State and saved 39 of 41 RIT shots in the game.
All but one of Penn State’s graduating seniors played in Saturday afternoon’s game, with Lindsay Reihl sitting out the final game due to an injury she sustained in Friday night’s game.
Both teams went scoreless after the first period, with RIT outshooting Penn State 17-8 through the first 20 minutes. It looked like the scoreless bout would continue into the third period, but Tiger Melissa Bromley had a lucky deflection off a Penn State defender for her fourth goal of the year to put RIT up 1-0 with 38 seconds to play in the second.
The Nittany Lions attempted a comeback in the third frame, but their hopes started to dwindle away when on a 4-0n-3 power play for the Tigers, with Penn State’s Laura Bowman and Taylor Gross in the box for tripping, Erin Zach tallied an unassisted marker past Paniccia to double the RIT lead 2-0 at 8:07 of the third period. The Tigers tallied their third and final score of the afternoon on Emilee Bulleid’s first goal of the season with 3:46 left to play in the game.
Goaltender Paniccia was pulled from the cage after the Bulleid tally to try to spark the comeback but Tiger netminder Ali Binnington was up to the task, saving the remaining Penn State shots that came her way and 31 overall in the game.
The RIT Tigers will move on to the semifinals of the CHA Tournament and will face off against No. 2 Robert Morris next weekend.
The Penn State women end the season with a 4-28-3 record, going 2-13-2 at home and 2-15-1 on the road for the year. Leaving seniors include captain Gross, Jenna Welch, Tess Weaver, Lindsay Reihl, and goaltender Nicole Paniccia but Penn State will bring in six new faces to join the team next season, five from the United States and one from Canada. Goaltender Hannah Ehresmann, a native of Minnetonka High School and former teammate of Bowman and Amy Petersen, will join forwards Caitlin Reilly and Christi Vetter, defensemen Bella Sutton and Remi Martin, and Irene Kiroplis, who can play both the forward and defensive positions.
This year for the Nittany Lions really signified a changing of the guard for the team, with the underclassmen stepping into their roles as the seniors make their way onto bigger and better things. Freshmen Bowman and Petersen combined for 15 goals, with Bowman leading the team in goals with 10. Leading scorer from last season, Shannon Yoxheimer, contributed 8 goals for the team, second best through the season. The defensive core for the team will stay intact and will add new blood in the form of the incoming freshmen.
Sophomore goaltender Celine Whitlinger posted a 3.54 GAA and .913 save percentage in her 15 games played while her senior counterpart Paniccia posted a 3.44 GAA and the same .913 save percentage in 22 games played. Brooke Meyer, a sophomore goaltender, will look to see some ice time next season as well along with the incoming freshman Ehresmann.
Penn State’s first year in Pegula Ice Arena has come to a close officially as well as my first full season covering the women’s team! Stay tuned throughout the offseason for any additional news or stories as the team looks to improve and grow coming into the 2014-15 season!