Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Penalty kill propels Minutewomen to defeat Nittany Lions twice

UMass kills all eight penalties over the weekend
Collegian File Photo

The Massachusetts women’s hockey team swept the series against Penn State after taking them down Friday night and Saturday morning. The Minutewomen (4-0) had come into their weekend series undefeated as they swept Utah earlier in the season. The Nittany Lions (0-4) were coming off losses against Indiana Tech.

It was the penalty kill for the Minutewomen that sprung them to take care of Penn State at home. UMass killed all eight of its penalties this weekend, not allowing the Nittany Lions to ever find the back of the net.

“Team did a great job defensively, lifting sticks and not letting them get inside the box,” said goalie Casey Marshall, who started Friday night.

The Minutewomen gave up four penalties in the first game on Friday night. UMass was called for two holding penalties, tripping and a checking call. The Minutewomen had no struggle with killing the penalties. The defense held strong towards the blue line and didn’t allow any easy zone entries for Penn State. UMass continued to dump the puck down to the other end of the ice, ticking away at the penalty clock.

“We didn’t have too many odd-man rushes against, which makes it less pressure on Casey,” said head coach Bill Wright after Friday night’s game.

The Minutewomen not only killed all four of their penalties on Friday night, but they were also perfect on their own power-play. UMass converted both of its powerplay opportunities en route to a 7-0 win in its first matchup against the Nittany Lions.

The Minutewomen played well in the neutral zone which make it difficult for Penn State to enter the offensive zone and reduce any odd-man rushes against them.

The story wasn’t much different in the second game Saturday morning. UMass once again gave up four penalties but was able to kill them all off. The Minutewomen were called for two tripping penalties and two roughing penalties.

Wright made the switch in net for Saturday’s game starting with Mary Honan. Honan picked up right where Marshall left off, saving every shot she faced. The Minutewomen saved a combined 35 shots against the Nittany Lions over the two games.

“She’s played well for us against UMass Boston and Suffolk a couple weeks ago,” said Wright. “I felt like she deserved to start.”

Honan played aggressively as she was active in the net using her stick to help the Minutewomen stay out of trouble. Her ability to send out passes from their own defensive end helped UMass generate offensive pressure on Penn State.

“From behind the net, yes,” said Honan of her aggressive playstyle. “To start opportunities passing from behind in corner or right in front.”

UMass found itself in a dangerous situation midway through the second period on Saturday. The Minutewomen were called for a tripping penalty and then a roughing penalty just a minute and 17 seconds apart. Penn State held a two-player advantage as UMass had just three skaters on the ice compared to the full strength of the Nittany Lions.

Despite a massive advantage, Penn State was unable to score as the Minutewomen went on to kill both penalties. UMass played well at the top of their defensive zone as the Nittany Lions struggled all weekend with setting up their offense and entering the zone. The Minutewomen defeated Penn State by a final score of 1-0 Saturday morning.

Head coach Bill Wright credited his team’s penalty kill as something that went extremely well for the Minutewomen this weekend.

“I thought we did a really good job with it,” said Wright. “Of course, the number one penalty killer is going to be your goaltenders and we had good outings from both girls.”

The Minutewomen are set to travel to Virginia next weekend for a two-game series with the Liberty Flames. UMass will look to continue its strong defensive performances and stay unbeaten.

Carson Depp can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @CarsonDepp.

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