Penn State found itself in another close matchup, again tied at 1-1 with Union on Saturday.
But a day after the Nittany Lions lost via a third-period power play goal, though, they returned the favor. With three seconds remaining on a Union elbowing minor, freshman Laura Bowman was in the right place at the right time to give Penn State a 2-1 victory against the Dutchwomen.
“To play as well as we played yesterday and just not have it show up on the score sheet, and then to turn around at 2 o’clock and get off to the start we got off to today ... that’s a hockey team that’s grown up big time over a five- or six-day period and I’m proud of all of them,” coach Josh Brandwene said. “It was a total team effort out there today.”
Former State College High School standout Jill Holdcroft also scored as the Nittany Lions (2-3-1) earned their first win at the new Pegula Ice Arena. Penn State, which dropped a 2-1 contest against Union on Friday night in front of a program-record home crowd, snapped a six-game winless streak at home, which dated back to last season. The Nittany Lions had lost three staight to Union over the past two seasons, all by one goal.
Bowman’s game-winner came after a hard shot at the point from sophomore Jeanette Bateman, with a little more than five minutes remaining in regulation. Bateman’s rebound deflected to the left side of the goal where Bowman gathered it and fired on an open net.
“I was more nervous than excited, because I was like ‘If I miss this, I’m going to be so sad,’” Bowman said with a laugh. “I was so thankful. Jeanette had such an amazing shot from the point, and I was just lucky to be there to just hit it in.”
The power play unit, which could not convert on seven shots in its first two appearances, finally broke through on Bowman’s goal. In Friday’s game with Union, the Nittany Lions’ power play was 0-for-3, while the Dutchwomen converted on both of their opportunities.
Penn State held Union (3-4-0) were kept to 1-for-4 on the power play Saturday.
“We did a good job of clearing lanes,” Brandwene said. “We had one just sort of half-miscommunication today that led to their first power play goal, and that’s going to happen sometimes. But overall, I was really pleased with the adjustments that we made on both sides of special teams today.”
Also improved in the series’ second game was Penns State’s shot margin. Saturday’s contest marked the first time the Nittany Lions outshot an opponent this season, doing so by 34-21. In the first period, they put 12 shots on target, compared to only one by the Dutchwomen.
Goaltender Celine Whitlinger, who has alternated starts with Nicole Paniccia, picked up her second win of the season. She allowed Union’s lone goal during a penalty kill late in the second period. After a rebound, Courtney Turner received a pass in the middle of Penn State’s zone and beat Whitlinger high to her glove side. It was Turner’s second goal in as many days.
“Absolutely fabulous,” Brandwene called Whitlinger’s overall performance. “It was a good goal that they scored. Celine was rock solid all game today. (She) made big saves, got us faceoffs when we needed to get faceoffs and she did a tremendous job.”
Holdcroft put the Nittany Lions ahead about midway through the first period. She was given a clear path to the net when a Union player fell with the puck in the Dutchwomen’s defensive end. Holdcroft took the puck in the left wing, deked goaltender Shenae Lunderberg and picked up her first goal of the season on the play.
The Nittany Lions return to Pegula Ice Arena when they open a two-game series with New Hampshire on Oct. 26.