|1st Period||2nd Period||3rd Period||Overtime||Final|
Penn State, used to being the team to upset college hockey’s elite, finally learned what it’s like to be on the other end. After a weird 7-5 win on Friday, the Nittany Lions probably felt confident as they came into Saturday’s game looking to cap off the sweep. The Yellow Jackets, 0-5-1 entering the contest, had a great showing on defense and in net to earn their first win in one of college hockey’s most intimidating environments.
Cole Hults (2)
Brennan Kapcheck (2)
Nate Sucese (2)
Smirnov, T. Hamilton
Dominik Florian (2)
Darius Davidson (2)
This game got off to a much slower start than the night before, when it seemed like somebody was scoring every five minutes. It took almost half the period for Penn State to record its first shot on net. Then, the Nittany Lions began peppering Zackarias Skog and on a mid-period powerplay chance, some gorgeous passes set-up Cole Hults for his second goal of the weekend.
Check out the BEAUTIFUL passing that led to that Cole Hults goal. pic.twitter.com/iJKegTYphs— Roar Lions Roar (@RLRblog) October 20, 2017
Hults’ clapper was the lone goal of the first period. Penn State started the second period shorthanded and killed it off after nearly scoring a couple more times. The frame had a similar pace to the first, as neither team was able to get much going until late. AIC finally was able to sustain some pressure with a couple minutes left, and a big rebound off Chris Funkey bounced right to a Yellow Jacket, who wasted no time tying the game. Penn State took a 21-17 lead in shots into the second intermission, needing a big response to avoid a loss to what theoretically is a much worse team.
The third period started with more of the same before a dirty hit on Denis Smirnov woke the Nittany Lions up. On Smirnov’s first shift after taking a few moments to recover, he assisted on Nate Sucese’s goal that took the lead. Still, it just felt like one of those games. AIC tied things up on a shot through traffic, putting Penn State in serious danger against a team it should’ve swept.
AIC’s second goal forced overtime, which already was a surprising result. Both teams got their share of opportunities, but Skog had a really great game and earned the win. Kris Myllari tripped as he tried to change his momentum and that sprung AIC’s Davidson for an easy breakaway and an easy game-winner.
- You’re probably asking yourself, “how?” Well, me too, and that’s probably also true for the team itself. Penn State looked like it tried to force plays too often, which tends to happen when you’re not scoring against a team that’s supposedly of a much lower caliber. Both teams played better defensively than the night before, but AIC simply made the most of its chances.
- Gadowsky credited the loss to not getting to the net. 31 shots for Penn State is not very many at all, and he said that the low total is because there were so few second and third chances. The team tried to make too many pretty, skilled plays, instead of the gritty play in front of the net that is such a big part of their identity.
- It’s never too early to think about the PairWise. AIC is now 1-5-1 and has a lot of losses left on its schedule. That’ll give a lot of teams a transitive win over Penn State through only one team. Even though the season is only six games old, Penn State’s shot at an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament took a big blow.
- Faceoffs often translate to possession. AIC dominated on the draw on Friday but Penn State was able to pull out a win; this time, after Penn State won 31 and lost 42, that flaw is turning into a trend.
- We don’t see him very much, but Chris Funkey is very solid. Other than the pretty big rebound he allowed on AIC’s first goal, he made every save look easy. Peyton Jones is and surely will continue to be the guy, but his backup is really good.
- Alex Limoges had at least four or five grade-A opportunities to score his first career goal but couldn’t get the job done. He will continue to be my pick for a breakout player, so once he finishes that elusive first one, a lot more will come.
- Brandon Biro played center on Friday and had three points, but he stood out tonight for different reasons. His strength as a player is his skating and defense, and he put those on display in this game.
- I’m pretty sure Denis Smirnov is faster than he was last year. Not much of a takeaway to be had there other than the rest of the Big Ten is screwed.
Penn State plays the second week of hits homestand against Michigan next Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 8 p.m.