Icers Sweep Mercyhurst with Win Saturday
The Penn State Icers (25-3-1) continued their dominance at home and won their 11th straight game overall by defeating the Mercyhurst Lakers (19-9-3) 9-1 on Saturday afternoon at the Greenberg Ice Pavilion.
With the win Penn State now improves to an astounding 18-0 at home on the season and likely cements their position at number one heading into the ACHA ranking that determines the seeds for nationals.
After a slashing call sent Mercyhurst forward Jonathan Sears to the penalty box, the Icers were granted an early powerplay and wasted no time in capitalizing on the opportunity. At 6:11 of the first, Icers forwards Tommy Olczyk and Mike McDonagh executed a beautiful down low give and go with Olczyk depositing the puck in the back of the net for his 21st of the season and the early 1-0 lead.
A little over six minutes later, Rich O’Brien’s point shot was stopped by Lakers goalie Ian Ansel, but he kicked out the rebound right to Icers forward Bryce Johnson who buried it for his 8th goal of the season and the 2-0 Icers lead. That was Johnson’s first goal since coming back from injury that sidelined him for over two months. Johnson would later add his second goal of the game on a beautiful 2-on-1 with Taylor Holstrom at 14:01 of the 2nd period which would extend the Icers lead to 5-1.
After the game, Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky was pleased with what he saw from the newly formed line of Bryce Johnson, Michael Longo, and Taylor Holstrom.
“It looked like they had a lot of synergy together,” said Gadowsky. “It gives you optimism for how they are going to perform in the future. They are certainly an explosive group and it looks like they have been playing together for a while.”
Johnson felt good about being back out on the ice.
“It was great to finally get that first goal back,” said Johnson. “I think I played pretty well today and yesterday. I just need to keep working hard and everything will work itself out.”
Olczyk scored his second of the game just seven second into the second period on a goal that Gadowsky called the turning point of the game. Icers defenseman Peter Sweetland shot the puck into the Mercyhurst zone, where Ansel came out to retrieve out. But after a funny bounce off the boards, it ended up right on the stick of Olczyk, who ended up with the easy goal and the 3-0 lead.
“That puck came off the boards really hard there,” said Olczyk. “I’ve scored a few empty netters in my life, but I had to be really strong on my bottom hand there.”
A scary moment occurred with 53 seconds remaining in the second period when Icers forward and leading scorer Justin Kirchhevel was slashed in the back of the leg by Lakers forward Cory Bruski. Bruski received a 5 minute major for slashing on that play. Kirchhevel did skate off on his own power, but would not return for the rest of the game.
“You hate to see things like that happen, especially in a 6-1 game at the time,” said Gadowky.
In the third, Peter Sweetland joined the scoring parade, scoring the Icers 2nd powerplay goal of the game, putting the Icers on top 7-1. Jake Friedman and Dan Meiselman would round out the scoring, tallying two goals in the last 13 minutes of regulation to finish the impressive weekend sweep of Mercyhurst.
The Icers went 3-for-10 on the powerplay for the game. Goalie Matt Madrazo finished the afternoon with 16 saves on 17 shots. The Icers outshot the Lakers 51-17 for the game.
It was also alumni weekend at the Ice Pavilion, and during the first intermission the Penn State hockey family inducted seven new members into their Hall of Fame. The inductees were Linda Jordan, Steve Penstone, Scott Balboni, Dick Merkel, Scott Curry, Curtiss Patrick and Bill Downey.
The Icers have only two more regular season games, both of which are at home, before the ACHA Nationals in the beginning of March. Up next for Penn State is a matchup on Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. versus the Duquesne Dukes.
Tom Zulewski is a junior majoring in Journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.