Mercyhurst Hands Penn State its Seventh Straight Loss

Story posted February 2, 2013 in Sports, CommRadio by Allie Rothman

The Penn State Women’s Ice Hockey team started the game out strong against #7 Mercyhurst Saturday afternoon at the Greenburg Ice Pavilion, but was unable to keep the Lakers off the scoreboard.

Penn State fell to Mercyhurst 4-1 and to 7-19-2 on the season. Mercyhurst improves to 21-5-1 for the season.

Saturday’s game was the finale of five games in nine days for the Nittany Lions.  Although the team lost all five games, coach Josh Brandwene was pleased with the team’s performance.

“I liked the compete, I liked the energy and I’m proud of the way we finished,” said Brandwene.  “Five games in nine days, we put a lot of effort and energy into the last week and a half.”

The Nittany Lions skated toe to toe with the Lakers as the first period ended in a scoreless tie despite both teams seeing time on the power play.  Penn State was unable to convert on its two power play opportunities and Mercyhurst could not find the net on its only man advantage of the period.

Mercyhurst scored on a quick strike 2:44 into the second period after Penn State had multiple quality scoring chances.  Sophomore forward Shelby Bram found the back of the net with Christine Bestland getting the assist to make it 1-0.

Lakers captain Christine Bestland posted her fourth goal of the week 15:29 into the second period when she skated in alone, faked left and went right on junior goaltender Nicole Paniccia.  Bestland’s goal put Mercyhurst ahead 2-0. 

Penn State was unable to create any sustained offense in the third period and Mercyhurst would find the back of the net again 13:07 into the period with defenseman Vaila Higson putting a shot on net from the point to make it 3-0.  Paniccia had no chance on Higson’s shot with all of the traffic in front of the net obscuring her view.

Bestland would find the net again for her second on the afternoon with a 1:30 left in the game.  Forward Jenna Dingeldein fed Bestland a pass in front of the net, giving Bestland an easy shot past Paniccia to make it 4-0.

It would take almost all sixty minutes for Penn State to get the puck past Lakers goaltender Amanda Makela.  Freshman forward Jill Holdcroft scored for the Nittany Lions, with three seconds left to play, while on the power play with Shannon Yoxheimer and Taylor Gross getting the assists to make it 4-1.

The Nittany Lion defense and forwards supported Paniccia by blocking 20 shots.  Penn State junior forward Jenna Welch recorded multiple blocks and says the team has been doing everything it can to help the goaltenders.

“Opponents have been getting a lot of shots on our goalies, so we have to help them out in anyway we can,” said Welch.

Paniccia stopped 46 of the 50 shots fired at her.  Her consistent play kept the game close for the Nittany Lions until late in the game.  She says the strong showing from the team this weekend is a step in the right direction with only a handful of games left in the season.

“It’s really good for us, especially getting into the latter part of our season, just to play well against them because they are the best team in our conference,” said Paniccia.  “I think everyone that was there watching knows we gave them a good run and it gives us confidence going into the next games that we’re playing.”

Penn State is back in action on February 8 at the Greenberg Ice Pavilion when they take on Lindenwood at 2:00 pm.

Allie Rothman is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism.  To contact her, e-mail aqr5139@psu.edu.