"I felt we made a mistake in building a baseball field. I thought that should have been the ice skating rink, because I think hockey in this state right now, not just hockey, but ice skating, if you come up to our office building at 6:00 in the morning, some mornings you can't get a parking spot because parents have taken their kids up here to skate...I think hockey will be a great addition to our intercollegiate program. [The Pegula gift] is a great, great gift. And I think very far-sighted and I'm really pleased with it." - Joe Paterno

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Stacked NCAA Women's Schedule Announced

Hannah Hoenshell and the Nittany Lions once again host Mercyhurst on February 15th and 16th, 2014

Penn State has officially announced its second-ever NCAA women's slate, and the first at the Pegula Ice Arena. Without further delay, here it is (* denotes College Hockey America games):

Date
TimeOpponentLocation
Fri. Oct. 4
7:00 p.m.
at Vermont
Gutterson Fieldhouse // Burlington, VT
Sat. Oct. 5
3:00 p.m.
at Vermont
Gutterson Fieldhouse // Burlington, VT
Fri. Oct. 11
TBA
at Quinnipiac
TD Bank Sports Center // Hamden, CT
Sat. Oct. 12
TBA
at Quinnipiac
TD Bank Sports Center // Hamden, CT
Fri. Oct. 18
7:00 p.m.
Union
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Sat. Oct. 19
2:00 p.m.
Union
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Sat. Oct. 26
7:00 p.m.
New Hampshire
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Sun. Oct. 27
2:00 p.m.
New Hampshire
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Thu. Oct. 31
7:00 p.m.
Robert Morris*
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Fri. Nov. 1
4:00 p.m.
Robert Morris*
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Sat. Nov. 9
2:00 p.m.
Syracuse*
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Sun. Nov. 10
2:00 p.m.
Syracuse*
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Fri. Nov. 15
7:00 p.m.
at RIT*
Ritter Ice Arena // Henrietta, NY
Sat. Nov. 16
7:00 p.m.
at RIT*
Ritter Ice Arena // Henrietta, NY
Fri. Nov. 22
TBA
at Lindenwood*
Lindenwood Ice Arena // St. Charles, MO
Sat. Nov. 23
TBA
at Lindenwood*
Lindenwood Ice Arena // St. Charles, MO
Sat. Nov. 30
2:00 p.m.
Maine
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Fri. Dec. 6
3:00 p.m.
at Mercyhurst*
Mercyhurst Ice Center // Erie, PA
Sat. Dec. 7
2:00 p.m.
at Mercyhurst*
Mercyhurst Ice Center // Erie, PA
Fri. Jan. 3
7:00 p.m.
at Ohio State
OSU Ice Rink // Columbus, OH
Sat. Jan. 4
7:00 p.m.
at Ohio State
OSU Ice Rink // Columbus, OH
Fri. Jan. 10
7:00 p.m.
Colgate
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Sat. Jan. 11
2:00 p.m.
Colgate
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Fri. Jan. 24
TBA
at Syracuse*
Tennity Ice Pavilion // Syracuse, NY
Sat. Jan. 25
TBA
at Syracuse*
Tennity Ice Pavilion // Syracuse, NY
Tue. Jan. 28
7:00 p.m.
at Princeton
Hobey Baker Memorial Rink // Princeton, NJ
Fri. Jan. 31
7:00 p.m.
RIT*
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Sat. Feb. 1
2:00 p.m.
RIT*
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Sat. Feb. 8
2:00 p.m.
Lindenwood*
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Sun. Feb. 9
2:00 p.m.
Lindenwood*
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Sat. Feb. 15
2:00 p.m.
Mercyhurst*
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Sun. Feb. 16
1:00 p.m.
Mercyhurst*
Pegula Ice Arena // University Park, PA
Fri. Feb. 21
TBA
at Robert Morris*
Island Sports Center // Neville Twp., PA
Sat. Feb. 22
TBA
at Robert Morris*
Island Sports Center // Neville Twp., PA

The CHA Tournament, once again, will be played entirely at campus sites. The sixth-place team and the fifth-place team will travel, respectively, to play the teams finishing third and fourth in the standings for a pair of best-of-three series over the February 28th through March 2nd weekend. The winners then will travel to the home of the CHA regular-season champion to meet the top two seeds for the semifinals (March 6th) and championship game (March 8th).

In a nice touch, a video was produced with head coach Josh Brandwene's comments concerning the schedule, so let's work that in here. Seriously, it's 3:16 long, not the usual throwaway for an occasion like this, so get on it.



The schedule takes on a decidedly streaky flavor, with an early eight-game homestand between October 18th and November 10th followed immediately by a run of eight away games in nine overall between November 15th and January 4th. The Nittany Lions will also play 60 percent of their CHA home games during a late-season stretch at the Pegula Ice Arena between January 31st and February 16th.

The 14 out-of-conference games show that, once and for all, the kid gloves are off - the likes of Division III Chatham and Division I (kind of) Sacred Heart have been replaced by a solid collection of Hockey East and ECAC schools like Quinnipiac, New Hampshire, Maine and Colgate. QU's women, much like their male counterparts, have enjoyed a rather quick ascendancy under head coach Rick Seeley. The Bobcats won just three times in 2008-2009, but haven't won fewer than 19 since then. A big part of that success has been senior forward Kelly Babstock, who scored 28 goals among her 55 points last season, good for 8th and 11th in the nation. New Hampshire finished an uncharacteristic 14-16-4 last season, but the 1998 AWCHA national champs remain a traditional power and feature sophomore defender Alexis Crossley, an all-Hockey East selection last season and a gold medalist with Team Canada at the 2012 Women's U18 World Championships.

Other Hockey East (Vermont) and ECAC (Union, Princeton) opponents will reprise their slots on last year's schedule. The Nittany Lions went 1-4-0 against that collection of teams in 2012-2013, with the win a historic 5-3 triumph at UVM last October 6th in the program's first NCAA game behind two Micayla Catanzariti goals. Union is also a notable opponent for the presence of star goalie Shenae Lundberg who, like Crossley, owns a gold medal from the Women's U18 World Championships (2011, Team USA) and who also played for PSU assistant Casey McCullion at Deerfield Academy in 2007-2008.

In her second straight season opener at UVM, Micayla Catanzariti will aim for a repeat of last year's win

Ohio State will become the first-ever WCHA opponent for the Nittany Lions, and of course is an exciting addition for that university's status as Penn State's biggest rival over the last couple decades. The Buckeyes - who interestingly enough, have been rumored to join the CHA off and on in the past - finished 19-15-3 last year and are decidedly on the rise under former Robert Morris coach Nate Handrahan. Perhaps even more impressively than any of their wins, OSU managed to hang within two goals of Minnesota on February 9th. The Gophers were undefeated (41-0-0) national champions last season, and featured Patty Kazmeier Award winner Amanda Kessel, so yeah, that's actually kind of good. Ohio State did register wins over titans Wisconsin (3-1 on November 17th) and North Dakota (5-3 on October 12th) and will certainly be one of the Nittany Lions' biggest tests to date.

CHA contests, of course, remain the bulk of the schedule, and after seeing the five league opponents for the first time last year, it's pretty safe to say that the conference is stronger than its ever been as it looks to gain an NCAA Tournament autobid for 2014-2015. Mercyhurst re-asserted itself as the dominant team by winning both the regular season and conference championships and adding their usual NCAA appearance in 2012-2013 after Robert Morris stunned the Lakers to win the CHA Tournament two seasons ago. Syracuse emerged as a top-tier team, finishing second in both the standings and the playoffs. Along with Penn State, RIT and Lindenwood joined up as part of their transitions to NCAA Division I and were both highly competitive. The Lions were particularly notable in that regard, as they suddenly started chipping off big victories over the second half of the season (a sweep of RMU and a win at Syracuse to name three) after a 10-44-1 start to their time in DI that included only three wins against DI competition.

Beyond the schedule, Penn State also reiterated ticket information for the inaugural Pegula Ice Arena season:
Tickets for the inaugural Pegula Ice Arena season can be purchased in a season ticket package ($50) for all 17 games or on a game day basis of $5 by calling 1-800-NITTANY (648-8269) or visiting the Bryce Jordan Center ticket office.

Seating at Pegula Ice Arena will be general admission in the lower bowl. A Nittany Lion Club donation is not required for season tickets. Students will be free to all regular-season games, while men's hockey premium season ticket holders in the loge, club and suite levels will receive complimentary women's hockey season tickets.
I'll go ahead and say it: $50 for a front row seat (if you get there early enough, see the general admission thing) to Penn State's home schedule might be the best deal in sports.

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