Penn State Earns Second CHA Sweep
In just their third season as a Division I program, the Nittany Lions are currently sitting in second place in their conference. And just six series after completing their first sweep, against Colgate back on Nov. 7-8, they swept a series for the third time, knocking off RIT in both contests this weekend.
Penn State skated to the 2-1 win on Saturday afternoon at Pegula Ice Arena, scoring twice in the second period to erase a one-goal deficit. Celeste Brown scored to put the Tigers ahead just a couple of minutes into the middle frame, but Shannon Yoxheimer knotted things up on the power play less than six minutes later. Bella Sutton then scored unassisted to give the Nittany Lions the lead, and goaltender Celine Whitlinger made 14 third-period saves to preserve it and seal the win.
They then completed the sweep on Sunday afternoon with a 3-1 victory. Penn State used two special-teams goals to take a 2-0 lead, with Laura Bowman scoring shorthanded in the second and Sutton tallying on the power play halfway through the third. Cassie Clayton got one back for RIT about three minutes later, but Hannah Hoenshell added another for the Nittany Lions with under seven minutes to go in regulation. Whitlinger made another 27 saves in net in the win.
Penn State now stands at 12-9-3 overall (7-4-1 CHA) and is just two points behind Mercyhurst for first place in the CHA. The Tigers, meanwhile, have just five points and are in last place in the conference, and they’ve won just one of their last seven games.
Mercyhurst ties, beats Syracuse
A week after knocking off North Dakota on the road behind Jenn Gilligan’s career-high 44 saves, the Orange earned another notable result, this time against conference foe Mercyhurst.
The Lakers, who have long been the team to beat in the CHA, were outshot by Syracuse in a 1-1 tie on Friday. Lauren Kilroy scored first for Mercyhurst in the second period, but the Orange outshot the Lakers by more than twice as much in the third period. Freshman Alysha Burriss broke through for Syracuse midway through the final frame to tie it.
On Saturday afternoon, the Orange jumped out to a 2-0 lead behind goals from Stephanie Grossi and Melissa Piacentini and carried that into the third period. Mercyhurst would launch a comeback in the final 20 minutes, however. Emily Janiga got the scoring started 14 seconds into the period, and then scored again before the seven-minute mark. Jenna Dingeldein gave the Lakers the lead with 7:19 remaining, and 30 saves from Amanda Makela sealed the win for them. Shelby Bram, Molly Byrne, and J’nai Mahadeo all finished the afternoon with two assists each.
It was the second-straight questionable performance for Mercyhurst in a College Hockey America series. In their last action before this weekend, they were swept on the road by Penn State, and were outshot by the Orange in both games this weekend. The Lakers’ defense has been solid, giving up the fourth-fewest amount of shots per game in the nation, but their offense has left a little to be desired. One offensive bright spot: junior forward Emily Janiga has taken off this year, and now sits fifth in the nation in scoring with 32 points in 19 games.