Icers Take Care of Ninth-Ranked Oklahoma in Game One of Weekend Series

posted February 5, 2012 in Sports, CommRadio by Mike Penrose

The top-ranked Penn State Icers routed the ninth-ranked Oklahoma Sooners 7-2 in the first game of a weekend series at the Greenberg Ice Pavilion Friday night.

The game marked a rematch of Penn State's trip to Oklahoma on January 7th. In that game, the Icers won 3-0.

As has been a trend recently, Penn State came out of the gate sluggish. Oklahoma scored the game's first goal just 55 seconds into the first period as Jon Schanke put in an easy rebound on Penn State goalie PJ Musico.

The game marked the fourth time in a row that the Icers fell behind early. Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky said he is not sure why poor starts have become a recent trend.

"We as a coaching staff told them, we're not going to come in here with pom-poms and get you jacked up," Gadowsky said. "You have to be ready at the drop of the puck."

The Icers found themselves in more trouble less than a minute later when forward Eric Steinour was sent to the penalty box for hitting from behind. But Penn State killed the penalty, showing why it has had a 90.7 percent penalty kill so far this year.

Penn State was able to right the ship and tie things up at the 11:57 mark when Chris Cerutti deflected a Peter Sweetland shot from the point past Oklahoma goalie Colin Fernandes. George Saad would follow that up two minutes later with a goal of his own, taking advantage of Fernandes falling over during a mad scramble in front of the net.

Penn State started the second period off right with a goal 27 seconds into the period. Defenseman Brandon Russo rocketed a shot top shelf on Fernandes off of a Taylor Holstrom faceoff win. Defenseman Nate Jensen scored on a wrist shot at the 11:59 mark off a Tommy Olczyk pass, continuing the trend of solid offensive play from Icers' defensemen.

"I would say I'm a hybrid," said Jensen, who leads all Icers defensemen with 19 points this year. "I like to jump in the play and see if I have an opportunity to get a shot on net or get a pass from someone."

Oklahoma would have opportunities throughout the second period, but Icers goalie PJ Musico played spectacularly. He notably stopped two great chances on an Oklahoma 2-on-1 breakaway, keeping the game at 4-1 until the second intermission.

A slashing penalty by Penn State defenseman Brian Dolan opened the door for Oklahoma in the third, as they were quickly able to add a power play goal on a Shane Vorndran tip-in right in front of the net. But the Icers countered with a power play goal by Eric Steinour.

Penn State then blew the game wide open. Justin Kirchhevel followed Steinour's with a breakaway goal, and then Steinour finished things off with the team's third goal in less than four minutes to complete the 7-2 victory.

Gadowsky praised the efforts of the Steinour-Saad-Collins line after the game.

"They work with great identity," he said. "All three of them are very committed individuals to what we do. I would hate to play against that line."

PJ Musico finished with 27 saves on 29 shots and a couple of highlight reel saves, including a third period save in which he was caught out of the net on a bizarre deflection in the corner. Musico managed to get back in time to knock a shot out of the air with his stick.

The Icers also beat Oklahoma in an overtime thriller on Saturday afternoon. Look for coverage of that here shortly.

Mike Penrose is a senior majoring in Telecommunications. To contact him, email mfp5044@psu.edu.