The RIT women’s hockey team faced Penn State in a best two out of three CHA Division I quarterfinal series last weekend, March 1 and 2.
Friday was RIT’s fifth confrontation with Penn State. Ritter Arena boasted a 10-member pep band and an equally sized Corner Crew with Tiger fans sprinkled throughout the rink. The game began quietly as fans patiently waited for the Lady Tigers to do business. AT 9:22 into the game the pompoms, cow bells, and foam paws burst forth from sweaters and jackets as second year Psychology major Marissa Maugeri scored the first goal for RIT with an assist from third year Media Arts and Technology major Erin Zach. This score also clinched the 150th goal for head coach Scott McDonald who has been working with RIT since 2006. The first period ended with a shot count of 13-5 RIT. The Nittany Lions served two penalties in the second period and only managed one shot toward RIT’s goal. In the final period RIT served two penalties and Penn State tried to swoop in for a tie. Two minutes left in the game, Penn State called a timeout but to no avail as RIT locked them out of the goal, winning the game 1-0.
On Saturday, attendance in Ritter Arena nearly doubled and so did the confidence level. As the first period began the audience sat back and watched the Tigers outperform their competitors with six shots on goal in the first two minutes forcing Penn State to call a frantic timeout. The game resumed with RIT dominating the puck until 10 minutes into the game when Junior Taylor Gross scores for the Nittany Lions. The Lady Tigers responded quickly by pressuring Penn and scoring five minutes later. The goal was made by second year University Studies major Celeste Brown with an assist from captain and fourth year Diagnostic Medical Sonography major Ariane Yokoyama. “I scored using a face off play,” Brown said with a smile, “Yoko and I practice that play all the time.” Then, 1:30 minutes into the second period first year Nutrition Management major Jess Paton broke the tie with an assist from Zach. In spite of several penalties against them, RIT beat off Penn for the remainder of the period. However, 57 seconds into the final period, Freshman Hannah Hoenshell scored for the Lions bringing the score to 2-2. The Tigers had several opportunities to score again but were shut out by Penn’s goalie for the remainder of the period, much to the groans of the audience. Ritter didn’t have to hold its breath for long: 47 seconds into overtime captain and fourth year Biomedical Sciences major Kim Schlattman scored handing RIT a 3-2 victory with 57-19 shots on goal.
Coach McDonald was happy with the final results. “We’ve been on campus training and practicing all week for these playoffs. I didn’t see any difference in Penn’s performance but give credit where it’s due: their goalie (Junior Nicole Paniccia) is an extremely strong player. The number of shots we get against Penn is typical, but she kept us out.” Paton also explained that the number of shots on goal increased for Saturday’s game because there were more open plays and lanes. “Penn is a hardworking team, and it was close, but in the end I don’t think they knew how to handle the pressure,” Brown added. “We’ve gone to playoff games and always have so we know what to do and do it. So we had that advantage over them.” Looking forward to next week’s opponent, Syracuse University, Coach McDonald is eager to see how things play out. “We’ve played four games against Syracuse and the last two were really close: we lost by a goal in overtime. I’m excited for next week’s game because it will be two really strong teams who don’t want to go home facing off.” Team captain Schlattman is also looking forward to the confrontation: “We’ve played Syracuse very hard and always lost by one goal so now we have something to prove. It’s a bit of a rivalry now.” The semifinal game against Syracuse will be held on Friday, March 8.