Men’s Hockey: Penn State Nets 11 Goals In Weekend Sweep Over Sacred Heart
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State Nittany Lions (6-2-2) swept the Sacred Heart Pioneers (5-5-1) in a two game series at Pegula Ice Arena this past weekend.
Friday night was a scoring frenzy as the Nittany Lions won by a margin of six goals in an 8-2 rout of the Pioneers.
The first period started off fast as forward David Goodwin found the back of the net under four minutes in. The Sacred Heart penalty kill, ranked sixth-best in the NCAA going into the series, was quickly picked apart by the Nittany Lions following the Goodwin goal. Freshman forward Alec Marsh added to the power play scoring after being set up by Eric Scheid and Kevin Kerr on the Nittany Lions second power play opportunity. Dylan Richard poked the third goal of the period home less than a minute after Marsh found the goal for Penn State’s first power-play goal of the contest. With 1:02 to go in the first, Kory Kennedy beat Penn State netminder Eamon McAdam for the Pioneers first goal of the game. Justin Danforth beat McAdam just seconds after to cut the Nittany Lion lead to 3-2.
The Lions followed up the first period with another three-goal performance. After both sides started the period on the slow side, Andrew Sturtz took a puck out of the air, spun around and beat the Pioneers goaltender Brett Magnus top shelf on his glove side to extend the lead to 4-2. Penn State didn’t stop there as Kenny Brooks caught the Pioneers in their own zone on the penalty kill and found the net for a short-handed finish to go up 5-2 on Sacred Heart. Goodwin would later tack on his second goal of the night on another PSU power play to increase the lead to 6-2.
Goalie Nathan Perry replaced Magnus in between the pipes for the Pioneers to start the third period but the result was not any different for Sacred Heart. Penn State played conservatively on defense, but that didn’t stop the team from finding the net a few times. Junior forward Zach Saar, in his first game of the season after missing time due to injury, scored the fourth power play goal of the night for Penn State to put the team up 7-2. Freshman Chase Berger capped off the night with the fifth power play goal of the night about a minute after Saar had extended the lead.
“I was kinda nervous, the first time I whiffed, but Goody and Juha were giving [passes] to me on platters. You just don’t get those opportunities too often,” Saar said recalling his first goal of the season.
The Lions accounted for six of eight goals on special teams.
“Zach Saar adds a new element to the unit big time. It was really nice to see him get a goal after the injuries that he’s had. Obviously special teams were huge tonight,” Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky said.
Despite putting up eight goals, McAdam had a busy night coming up with 36 saves to solidify the comfortable Penn State win.
Game two of the series was a lot more of a thriller as Sacred Heart entered the game with a lot more intensity Saturday.
Taking advantage of a slow Penn State start, Sacred Heart opened the scoring halfway through the first period as Zach Luczyk beat Penn State goaltender Matthew Skoff on an impressive setup from Mitch Nylen and Kennedy. The Pioneers appeared to have the original first goal of the game earlier in the period, but it was waived off after Penn State challenged the play for an offside call that Goodwin spotted from the bench. While both teams created several big time opportunities, the goaltenders stood strong and the period ended with SHU on top 1-0.
The second period continued the back and forth battle of the neutral zone until finally Berger connected on the second short-handed goal in as many days to tie things up at one. Just a few minutes after his first goal, Berger served up a beautiful goal by sniping the top right corner to give the Lions their first lead of the game.
“Every day I try to shoot a lot of pucks, I just try to control what I can and work on my shot a lot,” Berger said as he attributed his work ethic to his success so far this season.
In the third period, Sacred Heart knotted the game up 2-2 on Alec Butcher’s first goal of the season just four minutes into the period. Redshirt senior Tommy Olczyk broke the silence with just 9:34 left to play with a goal that would ultimately give Penn State the go-ahead with a final score of 3-2 and the series sweep.
Skoff finished with 43 saves on 45 shots while Magnus had 64 saves on 67 shots despite getting the loss.
Coach Gadowsky described Skoff’s performance as “unbelievable.”
“Very early it looked like he was tracking the puck extremely well… he was awesome!” Gadowsky said.
Penn State will head to Alaska next weekend to take on Alaska Anchorage in a two-game series starting Friday. Be sure to tune in to ComRadio’s coverage for all the action.
Mike D’Avella is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org