MHKY: Penn State Sweeps Alaska-Anchorage In Hard Fought Series
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves came to Penn State this weekend with only one win against Canisius earlier this year. They got no love from the No. 12 ranked Nittany Lions (9-1-1) who completed the series sweep. Alaska-Anchorage (1-9-0) fought very hard and made life tough for Penn State at times, but the Lions ultimately outscored the Seawolves 9-4 and outshot them 101-40.
What is interesting to note is that this series almost never happened. Alaska-Anchorage almost shut down their hockey program this summer due to budgeting, but ultimately that never came to be. Instead, the Seawolves traveled over 4,000 miles to University Park.
On Friday and Saturday night, Nittany Lion Andrew Sturtz, who leads the team in goals with eight, was a scratch due to a lower body injury. Peyton Jones made his ninth and 10th start of the season.
The Nittany Lions got off to an uncharacteristically slow start. Their passing was not crisp and they were sloppy with the puck on offense. Amazingly, they only had two shots on goal through the first six minutes and Penn State is one of the top teams in college hockey in shots per game with just over 45 per 60 minutes. The Seawolves came out aggressive and put some tough shots on Penn State goalie Peyton Jones. The Nittany Lions also committed three penalties in the first period and 10 for the whole game. This came much to the frustration of head coach Guy Gadowsky.
“We have to figure out a way to stay out of the box,” Gadowsky said after the game. “We have a long way to go.”
After about 10 minutes in the first period, the Nittany Lions started to put it together. Chase Berger netted his fourth goal of the season with 6:09 remaining. Less than a minute later, defenseman Kris Myllari notched the first goal of his career to swiftly put Penn State up 2-0. Penn State then began to look like the team fans are used to seeing, adding a second goal from Berger and playing stifling defense. Coach Gadowsky said his team played a poor first period and the score could have been closer than 3-0.
“I hope we become a team that we know at the drop of the puck we will be there,” Gadowsky said.
In the second period, Penn State’s defense played lights out, forcing turnovers and frequently disrupting the Seawolves on the forecheck and poke check. Defenseman Vince Pedrie scored his fourth goal of the season. The third period the Nittany Lions pounded home 25 shots on goal to add on three goals and push, but they continued to commit penalties. The Seawolves added three goals, two off power plays, but it was Penn State that came out victorious 6-3 and led in shots on goal 45-17.
A special moment in the first period came when senior left winger David Goodwin recorded his 100th point off an assist to Berger’s first goal. In last week’s series against Niagara, Goodwin got his 99th point and everyone expected him to get the 100th tonight. Coach Gadowsky and David himself weighed in on the accomplishment.
“To do it so early in your senior year is impressive,” Gadowsky said. “He’s played with so many different people and it’s a testament to his hockey mind. Really great accomplishment.”
“It felt great and it’s a huge honor,” Goodwin said. “I’m fortunate to have great line mates from my freshman year to now.”
From the dominance that Penn State had on Friday, Saturday’s game was much closer, tougher, and scrappy. The Nittany Lions came out strong again on offense and aggressive on the fore and poke check, but penalties continued to be an issue. Penn State had five penalties and were fortunate that Alaska-Anchorage did not score off them.
The second period brought an even stouter defense from Penn State, who continued to prevent Alaska-Anchorage from getting shots on goal. Left winger Nate Sucese broke through with 5:58 remaining to push the lead to 2-0, but Alaska-Anchorage goalie Oliver Mantha was phenomenal this game. He recovered from Friday’s game, where he let up six goals, and was a wall in front of the goal. He faced an even greater barrage of shots from yesterday and flashed his leather left and right to make spectacular stops.
The third period was the one of the hardest periods this season for Penn State. Alaska-Anchorage put 10 shots on goal against Peyton Jones and controlled the puck on offense for most of the period. Penn State was being sloppy on offense, not making smart or crisp passes, and had trouble keeping the puck in the other zone.
Alaska-Anchorage left winger Tad Kozun put home a one-timer shot to cut the lead to 2-1 and get everyone in Pegula nervous. From there on, Peyton Jones was amazing and stifled everything that came his way. Nate Sucese knocked in the empty net goal with 24 seconds left to give Penn State the win 3-1.
This game was marred by great goaltending; Peyton Jones and Oliver Mantha had it working and were hot all game.
Gadowsky praised Alaska-Anchorage for their performances based on how far they had to travel for this series.
“Tonight I give them a lot of credit,” Gadowski said. “They battled the whole time and hung in there.”
Nate Sucese said the team is playing with a lot of confidence right now and it’s carrying the team to a hot start.
“We are meshing well and everyone is buying into Penn State hockey,” Sucese said after the game.
Penn State did not play a perfect series, but they did show how dominant they can be. They lead the nation in shots on goal per game and their defense was ravenous. They showed they are one of the hardest teams to beat in the country.
Penn State hosts the 2-8-0 Arizona State Sun Devils for a two-game series next weekend on Nov. 18 and 19.
Matthew Harvey is a junior majoring in history and broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.