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No. 12 Penn State women’s hockey meets No. 3 Minnesota at the Henderson Collegiate Hockey Showcase | Penn State sports news

After dropping a two-game streak at then-No. 6 Yale, things don’t get any easier for Penn State.

The No. 12 Nittany Lions will face No. 3 Minnesota for the first time Friday at 7 p.m. in Las Vegas in the first game of the Henderson Collegiate Hockey Showcase. Depending on the outcome of each matchup, they would then play either Boston or Yale in their second game of the showcase on Saturday.

At the start of the duel, the blue-whites hold a 10-7-1 record in a season that has seen them meet many high-ranking opponents so far.

Prior to the Yale series, Penn State won seven contests in eight games — with the only loss suffered by its conference opponent, Mercyhurst. During that run, the Nittany Lions displayed the talent that has the potential to lead them to an upset victory over the nation’s third-ranked team.

However, after being outplayed 5-1 in their last series, the blue-whites are in need of a strong recovery.

Minnesota bring in a 9-2-2 record and come off a tie and a loss against now No. 2 Wisconsin. The roster’s only other loss came from Saint Cloud State, who dominated the competition with a 4-1 win despite falling 35-19 behind.

Accumulating a high number of shots has helped lead the Nittany Lions to multiple wins throughout the season and as such, capitalizing on shooting opportunities will be important for both teams.

Minnesota was solid right off the bat, winning .541 faceoffs so far this season, with fifth-year Taylor Heise leading the way for the roster.

Heise is the second-best scorer on her team, despite having 34 fewer shots than the Golden Gophers’ top scorer — while she’s also at the top with leading points-scorer Grace Zumwinkle and amassed 11 assists in 13 games.

Penn State’s talented center group has been a key contributor to the team this season and will continue to create most of its looks in the showcase. If the Nittany Lions can build on their ability to gain extra possession and set an offensive pace, they can make this a competitive game.

PSU Women's Ice Hockey vs. Colgate - Tessa Janecke

Forward Tessa Janecke (15) runs with the puck during a hockey game against Colgate at Pegula Ice Arena on Friday October 7, 2022 in University Park, Pennsylvania. The Raiders beat the Nittany Lions 3-2.

The Golden Gophers already have five players with double-digit points this season, so Penn State’s defense needs to step before their star netminder.

After junior goaltender Josie Bothun made 54 saves while conceding five goals in the Yale series, she will look to lead the blue-and-whites back to the Lifeguard Arena on Friday.

The blue and whites have gradually improved in many areas this season and power play scenarios have played out in their favor in recent games.

In penalty shootouts, the Nittany Lions have conceded just eight goals against opponents in 66 attempts and have 11 power-play goals to date.

On the other hand, the Golden Gophers have converted on 10 of 42 power-play opportunities but gave up a power-play goal on defense on 9 of 37 opportunities — which is a goal allowed on over 24% of chances.

While Minnesota started multiple goalies in their first 13 games, Skykar Vetter took on the most reps at the net as a sophomore, while senior goalie Makayla Pahl has started in just two contests so far.

Vetter allowed 26 goals in 12 games, including eight power play goals. So if Bothun manages to play at their usual level, Penn State’s offense should have a good chance of making some noise. Fast scoring runs have been the difference for the Blue-Whites before, and they could be a factor again in Game 1 at the Henderson Collegiate Hockey Showcase.

Beating a top-three team could be the big win coach Jeff Kampersal’s units have needed all season.


Penn State women's hockey falls behind the rankings after a winless weekend against Yale

After two tough road losses, Penn State slipped a bit in the USCHO top 15 poll.

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