Offense Explodes for 9 Goals, Nittany Lions Earn First Win of Season

Story posted December 3, 2020 in CommRadio, Sports by Kyle Cannillo

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State goes back to its roots. The Nittany Lions earned their first win of the season as they defeated Michigan 9-5 in a chaotic game.

Penn State came out of the gate with a completely different mentality as the night before. Head coach Guy Gadwosky said following the loss last night that Penn State didn’t have the “urgency” that it needed to have. To say they were “urgent” tonight would have been an understatement.

Just 46 seconds into the contest, Aarne Talvitie got the party started. Talvitie took a loose puck into the neutral zone, sped down the left wing, and fired a sharp angle shot into the top shelf. The release from the left circle surprised goaltender Strauss Mann, and Penn State was off and running.

Moments later, freshman Jared Westcott tallied his first career goal following a loose puck in the slot.

“Tonight, we played Penn State hockey,” Gadowsky said. “We did all the little things.”

The energy on the Penn State bench was jubilant. They hadn’t enjoyed a multi-goal lead at any point in the season until that point.

“The first five games we did not deserve to win,” Gadowsky said. “We only played well in spurts. Tonight, we played a complete game.”

However, Penn State’s lead didn't last long. Michigan’s Nick Blankenburg scored the game’s third goal in under three minutes to cut Penn State’s lead in half.

The pace didn't stop there. Following a huge hit in front of the benches, Penn State was awarded a five-minute power play. Junior Nolan Moyle was done for the night.

Penn State didn’t generate very many good looks on the power play and soon after took a penalty of its own. Nick Blankenburg, on the other hand, finished Michigan’s power play to tie the game. His shot came from the top of the circle, hit Oskar Autio’s pad, and went in. 

Catch your breath: the second period was even more bananas than the first.

Michigan snagged the lead for the first time when Cam York put on a beautiful between-the-legs toe drag. He backhanded it to the roof.

While the Nittany Lions blew the early lead, they didn’t quit. They made their power plays count, as Talvitie pocketed his second of the game following a pretty pass from Jimmy Dowd Jr.

Thomas Bordeleau’s coast-to-coast goal was answered by Dowd soon after. 

Dowd's goal sparked some life. Penn State had found its momentum, and it became clear that the Nittany Lions were playing to their identity. It was the start of four unanswered for Penn State.

Penn State would head to the power play again when Clayton Phillips' shot was tipped by Alex Limoges. Under 15 seconds later, Bobby Hampton got his first goal as a Nittany Lion to give Penn State some cushion. The lead was 6-4.

Finally, things settled down in the third period… until they didn’t. Michigan pushed hard to make things interesting. Autio, who wasn’t particularly good in the first two periods, made key saves to keep Penn State ahead. Two shots by Michigan’s Owen Powers were stopped at point-blank range.

Michigan finally got one. Vegas Golden Knights first-round pick Brendan Brisson got the score to 7-5. When Michigan pulled its goalie for the extra skater, Hampton tallied his second goal of the evening to make it 8-5.

Now it was fun and games: Michigan took a careless penalty with under a minute to play, which is where Tim Doherty’s one-timer goal came from.

Moments later, it got physical. With under 10 seconds to play, a massive scrum broke out with sticks, gloves and helmets scattered all over the ice. For what it’s worth, multiple players were booted to the locker room.

“I was in the scrum,” Westcott said. “I consider Michigan a rival. You want to play your best against them.”

The puck dropped and the seconds ticked away. Penn State had won a hockey game for the first time since February.

Fourteen Nittany Lions tallied at least a point in the contest. Six of them were freshmen. It was the first time that Penn State had scored nine goals since playing Notre Dame in 2018. Penn State also led in the shot department 43-28.

Hampton was awarded the first start of the game. Four freshmen scored their first career goals. Five goals in the second period tied Penn State’s record for the most in a single period. Needless to say, it was a good night after a disappointing start to the season.

Penn State will take on Arizona State next at Pegula Ice Arena on Dec. 11.


Kyle Cannillo is a broadcast journalism major at Penn State University. To contact him, please email