Icers Power Play Shines in 7-0 Rout of West Chester

Story posted November 13, 2011 in Sports, CommRadio by Jared Abbott

The Penn State Icers’ (10-0) power play put on a clinic against the visiting West Chester Golden Rams (9-4) in a convincing 7-0 victory Friday night. The top-ranked Icers remain undefeated on the season with a win over their in-state rival.

The 23rd ranked Golden Rams entered Greenberg Ice Pavilion with a solid 9-3 record, but they were no match for the explosive Penn State skaters. The Icers opened the scoring early when Justin Kirchhevel cycled the puck up to Nate Jensen at the point who buried a wrist shot in the back of the net. Tommy Olczyk provided the screen in the slot allowing Jensen to score his second goal of the season.

Just six minutes later, speedster Taylor Holstrom swung through the neutral zone and caught a breakaway pass from freshman defenseman Brandon Russo, who was making his Icers debut. Holstrom released a quick wrist shot top shelf over the glove of West Chester goalie Randy Japchen.

Despite giving up six goals before leaving the game in the third with an injury, Japchen was strong in the pipes, keeping the Golden Rams in it for the first two periods. The netminder withstood a barrage of pucks, accumulating 56 saves on 62 shots. After leaving the game, Will Parra replaced him and allowed one goal on five shots.

Icers freshman goalie PJ Musico came up big when West Chester came knocking on the door. Musico and Japchen rivaled each other’s strong goaltending in the second period until a defensive lapse on the power play allowed Penn State to extend their lead.

Penalty kill specialist Michael McDonagh earned his second goal of the season after a high-energy shift granted him a fortuitous bounce in front of the Golden Rams’ net. The sophomore forward slammed home the loose puck, extending the Penn State lead to 3-0 after two periods.

Towards the end of the second period, the play turned especially feisty after stoppages. Nearly every cover-up by the goalies led to a scuffle in front of the net. Penn State defenseman Brian Dolan received a five-minute major and a game disqualification for facemasking, which opened the door for Brandon Russo to make an impact.

“I just have to make sure I am calm out there,” said Russo. “That’s one of the big things I’m going to help with this team, I’m going to be good on the power play.”

The freshman from Fairfield, CT saw significant time on the power play all game especially in the third when discipline became an issue for West Chester.  The pushing and shoving continued after the whistles and escalated as the period went on. Two West Chester players were given five-minute majors and game disqualifications for leaving the bench during an altercation 4:08 into the third period.

The penalties continued to pile up throughout the entire period including two ten-minute misconducted to players on each team. The Icers were able to remain the more disciplined squad and capitalized on their power play opportunities.

Penn State was able to execute with the man-advantage and converted on four power play chances in the third period. Overall, the Icers were 4-9 on the power play as four different players tallied a special teams goal.

Justin Kirchhevel scored his sixth goal of the year on a five-on-three advantage for the Icers. Linemates Tommy Olczyk and Taylor Holstrom assisted his marker. Olczyk followed up with his own goal on the two-man advantage a minute later and, in the blink of an eye, the lead was extended to 5-0.

With the game already in hand, Brandon Russo added his first career goal on a blast from the point. Forrest Dell added the seventh Penn State goal with 1:54 remaining in the game. His goal was the only one given up by Parra, who came in relief for Japchen.

Orange, California native PJ Musico stopped all 23 of West Chester’s shots in the midst of earning his first career shutout. Despite witnessing his team bombard the Golden Rams’ net with shots, Musico stepped up when he had to and thwarted any West Chester scoring chances.

“It’s not often in a [7-0] game you comment on the goaltending, but I actually thought it was excellent,” said head coach Guy Gadowsky on PJ Musico’s performance.

The Icers will put their 10-0 record on the line against rival Delaware this upcoming weekend with a home-and-home series. The Blue Hens will be one of the Icers’ toughest tasks this season and will test the unblemished record of top-ranked Penn State.

Jared Abbott is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and psychology. To contact him, email: jda5104@psu.edu.