Penn State has Scoring Party; notch largest shutout in NCAA tournament history

Story posted March 25, 2023 in CommRadio, Sports by Mac Young

Penn State took complete advantage of its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2018, defeating Michigan Tech 8-0 in the opening round of the Allentown Regional.

In 2020, mere days before the likes of Connor MacEachern, Kevin Wall, Connor McMenamin, Paul Denaples and a handful of other Nittany Lion freshmen prepared to play in the NCAA tournament, the opportunity was snatched away by COVID-19.

A few years later, those Nittany Lions learned how hard it is to get to this point and jumped at the opportunity to play in a huge tournament game.

Penn State had 15 individual players score a point, including eight different goal scorers. Six of those point-getters were seniors.

The 8-0 victory goes down as the largest shutout in NCAA history.

Earlier in the week, Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said his team’s seniors understand how hard tough it is to get to the NCAA tournament and want to soak in the whole experience.

Senior forward Connor MacEachern said multiple times that he was “nervous,” about this game, but also “stoked,” to have the chance to play in it.

Every Penn State player stood out in the route against Michigan Tech, playing like there was no tomorrow.

Perhaps the most important Penn State star though was junior goaltender Liam Souliere.

Souliere collected his third shutout of the season and first ever in an NCAA tournament game. His biggest saves came in the first period.

After Tyler Paquette opened the scoring for the Nittany Lions on a wraparound goal, Penn State fought to hold that lead for the rest of the first frame.

That nearly was not the case as Michigan Tech’s leading goal scorer, freshman Kyle Kukkonen, blazed into the attacking zone going in on Souliere for a breakaway.

Kukkonen has a wicked shot leading to 18 goals this season, more than any player on either squad in this matchup. However, Souliere was up to the task.

Kukkonen skated in and wristed a hard shot on Souliere’s glove side and the Nittany Lion netminder flashed the leather in what was his save of the season.

That stop made sure the blue and white would enter the locker room with the lead.

“For a team like us, we’re a momentum team,” Souliere said, “and I think it’s important for me to keep that momentum going forward. And you know making those stops I know that guys get them going and makes them want to go score and it happened tonight so it was great to see that.”

Souliere recorded 24 saves in the shutout, but the timing of his saves was crucial according to Gadowsky.

“Sometimes it’s not the pucks you save, but when you save them,” Gadowsky said, “and I thought Soulie’s timing was great and if one of those goes in and very easily could have, it would have been a much different deal, so you have to give him a ton of credit.”

Souliere’s big saves early allowed the blue and white to regroup in the locker room before exploding in the second period for three goals.

Ashton Calder scored the second of those three middle-period goals, receiving a beautiful stretch pass from Simon Mack leading to a breakaway where Calder made no mistake, stuffing the frozen biscuit home on the backhand.

Calder entered the game as the only Nittany Lion with NCAA tournament experience and the only player on the team to ever face off against Michigan Tech.

The Penn State senior failed to get a victory in each of his first two tournament appearances, scoring the lone goal in Lake Superior State’s 5-1 loss to UMASS back in 2021.

“It feels good, I kind of got the monkey off my back from last time, so it feels good today, especially with this group,” Calder said.

Calder captured the energy of the team tonight, flying up and down the ice, firing shots on net and even throwing the body around.

Penn State will face off against the No. 1 seed in the Allentown Region in Michigan on Sunday for a chance to go to the Frozen Four in Tampa Bay.

The Nittany Lions will have one day off before the biggest game of the season, but Gadowsky believes his team will take it easy to be ready to go Sunday.

“We know what we have to do, we’re not going to do anything different, we don’t have to stress about it, we know what we’re going to do, so tomorrow we’re going to relax, enjoy and get ready to go.”

Maclain Young is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email