|1st Period||2nd Period||3rd Period||Final|
No. 16 Penn State used an explosive third period to defeat No. 17 Clarkson during its season opener Thursday night at Pegula Ice Arena.
Senior goaltender Chris Funkey got the nod in net, giving him his first opening day start. The Nittany Lions came out flying and were able to spend much of the period in their offensive zone. They did, however, struggle to crack Clarkson’s goaltender Jake Kielly. The first period ended tied at zero.
The Golden Knights had the game’s first goal early in the second period when a feed from the left side of the net was tipped by Nico Sturm and slowly slid into the net. Penn State was able to tie the game roughly halfway through the period on a 5-on-3 power play. Chase Berger fed Sam Sternschein across the ice and through Clarkson’s defense, catching Keilly out of position, and Sternschein was able to hit the open net. The second period ended tied at one.
The third period saw lots of action and is what we can expect to see more of throughout the rest of the season. Penn State started the period on a carry over power play, and it was able to cash it in with a Liam Folkes goal on an absolutely perfect pass from Brandon Biro.
In a perfect example of what not to do immediately after you score a goal, Penn State gave up an odd man rush and the Golden Knights were able to tie the game at two, just 19 seconds later. Harlalds Egle ripped the shot to the top corner, and Funkey wasn't able to make the save. But Nate Sucese took the lead right back 33 seconds later on a short-handed goal. Sucese jumped on a lazy pass between Clarkson’s defenders and cool-as-you-like slid the puck between Kielly’s legs for the 3-2 lead.
Clarkson answered back again on the same power play as Greg Moro put the puck past Funkey. Biro was able to take the lead back for good with nine minutes left in the third period. Biro found himself alone in front of the net when a bouncing puck came to him, and he was able to poke it past Kielly. It was a bit of lucky play, but Biro was dominant all night and deserved a goal. Penn State was able to run out the rest of the clock without too much pressure clinching the 4-3 victory. The final shot total was 32-26 in favor of the Lions.
- Penn State’s offense looked fantastic, and the top two lines of Sucese-Larsson-Biro and Limoges-Barratt-Folkes were able to control most of the game in the offensive zone.
- Biro was the night’s first star and rightfully so. He was a force along the boards and in the tough areas around the net. His pass to Folkes on the Penn State’s second goal was the best play of the night, and he was able to get the game winner. He also had a key block late in the third period. If he’s able to continue performing like this for the rest of the season, we won’t have to wonder who will replace Andrew Sturtz’s play-making ability.
- Freshman Aarne Talvitie had a solid first game of his Penn State career and probably should have scored at least one goal. Even though he did not score, he showed some of the physicality that Gadowsky eluded to during his preseason press conference.
- Defensively, Penn State was as good as it needed to be to get the job done, but no better. Collectively, they were positioned well and made key blocks, but there were a few times where they seemed to be a step slower than Clarkson’s forwards.
- Freshmen Alex Stevens and Paul DeNaples looked solid during their debuts and will give Gadowsky plenty to work with when Kevin Kerr is healthy.
- Funkey made the saves that he needed to make, finishing with 23 saves. It’d be easy to nit-pick his performance, but none of the three goals he allowed were blatantly his fault.
Penn State played a good game and deserved to win. The response shown offensively after giving up the tying goal multiple times in the third period is exactly what a coach and a fan wants to see and will be needed again later in the season. Peyton Jones will get the start in net Friday night for game two of the series as Penn State looks to start the season off with some light broom work.