Feb. 7, 2007
Fairfield, CT - Seniors Michelle Panella (Marlboro, NJ), Pierre-Luc O'Brien (Nicolet, QC) and Jason Smith (St, Lambert, QC) have been selected as part of a group of 89 student-athletes, who are finalists to particpate in the NCAA Frozen Four Skills Challenge in April in St. Louis. The NCAA is offering college hockey fans the opportunity to vote for the final 32 student-athlete participants (16 male and 16 female). Fans can vote online at www.ncaasports.com until February 12th.
Panella is second in scoring on the Pioneer women's ice hockey team. She has tallied 31 points on the season, including 18 goals and 13 assists. Panella has six power play goals, second best on the squad. Her two shorthanded tallies and two game winning goals are tied for the most of any Pioneer.
O'Brien leads the Pioneer men's ice hockey team in scoring this year, with 14 goals, 22 assists and 36 points for the season. He is fourth in the Atlantic Hockey Association in scoring and fifth in the league in scoring. For his career O'Brien has 65 goals, 83 assists and 148 points. Those numbers are school records for career assists and points and a tie for the record for career goals. O'Brien was named the CSTV/HCA National Player of the Month for November after piling up 23 points in nine games.
A New Jersey Devils prospect, Smith has been the Pioneers' number one goaltender for the last two years. In 2005-06, he finished the season with the second best goals against average in the league, posting a 2.24 mark, the best single season average in school history. This year, he is fourth in the league with a 2.87 goals against average and a .906 save percentage. Smith earned CSTV/HCA Honorable Mention National Player of the Month in December after putting together a stretch where he allowed just one goal in five straight games.
The second annual NCAA Frozen Four Skills Challenge will be held April 6 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis and will be shown live on ESPNU.