UMass women’s club hockey dominates Penn State offensively in 5-1 victory

Minutewomen outshoot Nittany Lions 53-22 on net

By Anthony Syrek, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts women’s club hockey defeated Penn State 5-1, dominating it in the offensive zone. The Minutewomen’s (12-6-1) shots on net more than doubled the Nittany Lions (4-10), 53-22 in favor of UMass.

Penn State was given a spark when it scored 33 seconds in the beginning of the third period, cutting it to 3-1. The Minutewomen committed three penalties throughout the third, but their penalty kill was effective and goalie Casey Marshall provided some quality saves.

With a minute left in the third, UMass shut the door on a Penn State comeback when freshman forward Kat Paradis scored off an assist from the transfer from Holy Cross, Cat Luciano, making it 4-1. Luciano finished with two assists in her first in game action with the team.

“Overall I just want to be a playmaker in the game,” said Luciano. “We have a lot of girls that can shoot and score.”

UMass is ranked No. 6 in the ACHA rankings, fighting for its spot in the top eight to qualify for nationals. Luciano said she does feel some pressure to gel with the team quickly while knowing nationals are just a month away.

“All these girls already know how each other play and how they react to certain things, said Luciano. “It’s still a learning process and we have a few more weeks till nationals, so hopefully I can adapt.”

Luciano transferred to UMass during the beginning of the spring semester, still acclimating with the team. Coach Bill Wright said Luciano was already fitting into the team.

“She brings a lot of speed and intensity into the game,” said Wright. “She’s being a good part of the team and being a good teammate, so hopefully things keep getting better as we go.”

Defensewomen Holly Russell understands it’s going to take some time for Luciano to get comfortable in the lineup, but the whole team is welcoming her with open arms.

“She’s going to be helpful. She came from Holy Cross, so she’s definitely played at a level higher than this,” said Russell. “It’s not exactly the level of hockey play she needs to get comfortable with, it’s our team in general that she needs to get comfortable with.”

In practice, coach focused on scoring drills and being able to finish in the offensive zone. In the prior three games, UMass was shut out twice. Friday, the Minutewomen controlled the puck most of the time in the offensive zone, peppering Penn State off rebounds and second chance opportunities. Russel said the team collectively thought it was an issue that needed to be addressed.

“I think that now in our mindset we are trying to crash the net a little harder, we’re understanding that we’re not going to score goals outside the dots,” said Russel. “That’s what our team struggled at the beginning of the season. We weren’t getting to the crease; we weren’t bearing down.”

UMass finished sloppily down the stretch, committing five penalties in the second period alone, handing the Nittany Lions multiple chances to come back.

“I think that we have to understand that we are going to play teams that if they don’t have the skill level as other teams do, they’re going to play tougher,” said Russell. “We need to make sure that the whole game we are playing our game.”

UMass hopes to build off the third win of the year over Penn State as the two teams face off one final time on Feb. 1 at 10:50 a.m. at Mullins practice facility.

Anthony Syrek can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @ASyrek.