Thursday, August 9, 2012

Breakout Past: Lady Icers Take Third Place

Katie King (12) was a second-team All-American in 2001-2002.

The Lady Icers never won an ACHA national championship in their six tournament appearances, but they came pretty close at the 2002 edition, held in Alpharetta, GA from March 1st through 3rd.

At just the second-ever championship for the ACHA's then-new women's division, PSU redeemed their eighth-place (out of eight) finish in the 2001 tournament with a best-ever run to third, capped by a 4-2 win over Boston University in the consolation game.
"We've never beat them before," sophomore Alex McVicker said. "Before the game they were being cocky saying how we never beat them."

Penn State dominated Boston the entire match. The high powered offense of the first line produced all scores as McVicker and [Andrea] Lavelle both put in a pair. The victory not only allowed Penn State to finish the season on a high note, but it gave the club one of it's most monumental victories ever.
A 3-1 loss to eventual national champion Wisconsin (which beat defending champ St. Cloud State in overtime in the final) in the last game of the group round robin relegated the Lady Icers to that third place game, but that disappointment was preceded by a 3-1 victory over Bates College and a 5-0 blowout of Michigan State. Lavelle, McVicker and Steph Feyock scored in the win over the Bobcats.

The BU triumph, though, was particularly noteworthy due to the fact that the Terriers were well on their way to adding women's hockey as an NCAA sport opposite their legendary men's program. Four seasons later, in 2005-2006, BU would be playing in Hockey East and featuring a freshman forward named Gina Kearns (who, of course, would go on to become the program's all-time scorer en route to her present position as a PSU assistant).

Andrea Lavelle, who was also a scholarship athlete on the women's
 golf team, is arguably the best player in Lady Icers history.

While her team may have finished third best, individually Lavelle proved worthy of a much higher grade. PSU's leading scorer (she finished with an insane 76 goals and 114 points in 24 games) took home the tournament MVP trophy, and later added the ACHA Women's Division Player of the Year award to her list of accolades. Freshman forward Katie King was a second-team All-American on the back of her 84 points and defender Feyock was an honorable mention. Lavelle would go on to play professionally for the Beatrice Aeros of the defunct National Women's Hockey League.

The 3-1-0 showing at nationals capped off a 22-7-1 season that wasn't short on highlight wins. On February 9th, they bombed NCAA Division III Chatham to the tune of 7-1.
"We pumped ourselves up because we were playing Div. III, not just another college club team," defender Becky Holmes said.

"Once we were out on the ice and we saw that we could meet and even surpass their skills as a hockey team, we just played our game."

The Lady Icers showed Chatham up for three periods of play when they outworked the Cougars in their own backyard. Andrea Lavelle added four goals to continue her torrid pace while King, as well as sophomores Faryn Shapiro and Alex McVicker, each added scores to help give Penn State a 7-1 triumph.

"We played pretty well and wore them down," King said. "We do have some players who could be playing at the varsity level too and we just wanted to show them that."
Earlier in the month, they dealt with three tough senior teams in Erie to go 2-1-0 at the Valentine Tournament. Lavelle had hat tricks in both of PSU's wins, while King added a pair in an opening win over the Syracuse Warriors. Undoubtedly, the Lady Icers' ownership of archrival Buffalo was particularly satisfying for the team, as Penn State survived "you're a man" taunts from the UB fans and public address announcer (!) during 10-2, 6-0 sweep in January. That was preceded by a 6-0 home win in December that ended like this:
Directly after the game came to a close, the much anticipated brawl finally went down after a Buffalo player knocked the stick out of freshman Kate Connolly's hands and checked her in the back of the head. Connolly proceeded to go after the Freeze player, prompting a bench-clearing brawl that brought a thunder of excitement into the Greenberg Sports Complex.
Jen McDevitt (9) had an awkward number for a goalie, but for good reason, as she was playing out of position to become one of the unsung heros of 2001-2002. Other notables in this team huddle include Alex McVicker (23, first player from the left) and Lavelle (11, second player from the right).

One interesting story from the sixth Lady Icers season was junior captain Jen McDevitt. In a plot duplicated more recently by Carly Szyszko and Julie Horn filling in for World University Games participants Heather Rossi and Katie Vaughan on the 2010-2011 Lady Icers, the defender put on goalie pads for the first time in filling in for the injured Jess Gurskey, who was out with a herniated disc for much of the season starting with the brawl game against Buffalo. It wasn't an unsuccessful run either, as McDevitt registered four regular season shutouts as part of a 10-3-1 record. Even after it was over though, she still felt short on respect.
"There are still a lot of people who don't take what we do seriously," [she] said. "One of those 'people' is probably the University itself."
The recognition may be ten years late, but hopefully McDevitt sees this wherever she is now. Job well done.

1 comment:

  1. Kyle,
    I just recently came across this article, and I wanted to let you know just how much I appreciated it. We had a hell of a run. Thank you so much for recognizing the remarkable women of 2001-2002.
    -Jen McDevitt, USCG