Sunday, March 10, 2013

ACHA WD2: Penn State 2 vs. West Chester 5

Coaches Pat Fung (top right) and Tommy Vaughan (top left) with the team, the second-place trophy, and the all-tournament plaques for Katie Vaughan and Devon Fisk

The Women's Ice Hockey Club closed its inaugural season with a 5-2 loss to West Chester in the ACHA Women's Division 2 national championship game in Ashburn, VA Sunday afternoon.

That's what the ACHA website will say. What it won't discuss is the journey to get there for a team that, though sheer determination and leftovers (ice time, scheduling, locker "space," you name it) came together in its first year and shocked the nationals field as one of the lowest seeds in the championships. The defeat to WCU was preceded by three wins and a tie against higher-seeded teams, two of those wins coming against defending national champion Wisconsin-Stout, and the other coming against Alaska, the top seed in the West Region.

It was an electrifying beginning for a team that promises to develop into one of the elite ACHA organizations in the coming years, while representing Penn State with honor and distinction. Next year the squad, which joins University Park's other hockey teams in a move to Pegula Ice Arena, will almost certainly be a national championship favorite.

In the final, things actually began quite well for Penn State. Mandy Mortach gave the WIHC a 1-0 lead 2:10 into the game by dangling to the left wing wall and firing a shot that appeared to deflect in off of a WCU defender. Elizabeth Denis made it 2-0 just over two minutes later when she recovered a saved Devon Fisk shot in the corner to WCU goalie Aly Golia's left, walked to the front, and sniped. So far, so good.

Then Becky Dobson happened. Three times consecutively, briding the first and second periods.

By the time she was done with her natural hat trick, the West Chester senior and ACHA player of the year had given the Golden Rams all the offense they would need. Danielle Speroff's power play goal and Kristen Neugebauer's tally on a delayed call, both in the second period, added insurance and hampered PSU's third period comeback effort. That effort included a long and gritty 3-on-5 kill to start, and several close calls offensively from Fisk and Denis. Aly Golia - who at one point looked possibly unable to continue after a first-period collision - made 28 saves to stymie the Penn State offense over the last 46 minutes of the game.

Despite the loss, several Penn Staters earned ACHA recognition. Goaltender Katie Vaughan and forwards Mandy Mortach and Devon Fisk were named All-American honorable mentions, while Vaughan (second team) and Fisk (first team) also were on the ACHA All-Tournament team. Forward and club president Mary Kate Tonetti was named the ACHA's Off-Ice MVP for community work.


Here are Penn State's goals.

Box Score

First Period
1. Penn State, Mandy Mortach (Allie Rothman), 2:10; 2. Penn State, Elizabeth Denis (Devon Fisk), 4:14; 3. West Chester, Becky Dobson (unassisted), 4:45.
1. Penn State, Tara Soukup (2:00 body checking), 10:58; 2. West Chester, Becky Dobson (2:00 hooking), 15:21.
Second Period
4. West Chester, Becky Dobson (unassisted), 1:58; 5. West Chester, Becky Dobson (unassisted), 2:53; 6. West Chester, Danielle Speroff (Emily Rice), 10:21 (power play); 7. West Chester, Emily Rice (unassisted), 11:45.
3. Penn State, Tara Soukup (2:00 elbowing), 9:32; 4. Penn State, Tara Soukup (2:00 tripping), 11:45; 5. West Chester, Virlen Reyes (2:00 hooking), 14:55; 6. Penn State, Devon Fisk (2:00 tripping), 16:10; 7. Penn State, Tara Soukup (2:00 holding), 16:33.
Third Period
8. West Chester, Becky Dobson (2:00 holding), 8:22; 9. Penn State, Allie Rothman (2:00 holding), 15:34.
Penn State: Katie Vaughan: L, 20 saves/25 shots. West Chester: Aly Golia: W, 28 saves/30 shots.

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