The Penn State Nittany Lions hockey team (5-2-0) defeated Buffalo State at the Greenberg Ice Pavilion Saturday night to extend their winning streak to four games while also gaining their first victory on home ice in front of a packed crowd.
Head coach Guy Gadowsky said after the game: “I love at the start of the game standing on the bench and looking at the student section and seeing them standing up and pumped and energized and ready to go. I love that. I hope that they enjoyed that, and I hope that we’re going to give them plenty of more wins.”
Freshman forward David Glen netted two goals in the tilt, including a late tally to put the Nittany Lions ahead 4-2, where the score would stand until the final horn. Sophomore forward and team captain Tommy Olczyk finally got his first goal of this season in the second period.
The contest got off to a quick start with a Penn State power-play just over 30 seconds into the first period thanks to a cross-checking penalty. The Nittany Lions power-play unit managed a few shots on Buffalo State goalie Kevin Carr but failed score on the man advantage.
Penn State’s Connor Varley was called for an interference penalty around the midpoint of the opening period and Buffalo State took advantage, with Matt Bessing netting a garbage goal in the crease to sound the horn for the first time in the game.
It did not take long for Penn State to answer with a garbage goal of their own. With 3:23 remaining in the first period, Glen picked up the first of his pair of goals in the game, putting two shots on net and getting his own rebound to flip the third into the top of the net to knot up the score at 1-1.
The Nittany Lions almost pulled ahead in the closing minutes of the first period. Junior forward Taylor Holstrom managed to find himself on a breakaway and put a wrist shot from the middle of the left circle over the top-right corner of the Buffalo State goal for a near-miss on a great opportunity.
In the middle of the second period, with 1:30 remaining on a Buffalo State power-play that resulted from a Varley elbowing penalty, Penn State pulled away on a 3-on-2 rush despite being shorthanded. Buffalo State’s Nick Melligan put a nasty high stick on Penn State’s Jonathan Milley for a major penalty that left Milley writhing in pain on the ice before skating off under his own power minutes later.
After the Penn State penalty expired, the Nittany Lions were left with 3:30 on their extended power-play from Melligan’s major, and they took advantage.
Nate Jensen put a nifty pass across the front of the goal to Michael Longo who just slipped the puck into the net for an easy go-ahead goal with just nine seconds left on the power-play.
Three minutes later, it looked as though it was Penn State’s game to lose. A nice pass through sophomore forward Max Gardiner’s legs found Olczyk at the bottom of the right circle. Olczyk netted a glove-side goal in the top of the net for his first score of the season.
“It was good to get the monkey off of my back,” Olczyk said, “but it doesn’t matter who scores. We’ve been winning a lot of games lately and beaten some pretty good teams, so whoever gets the credit at the end of the day it doesn’t matter as long as you get the win.”
There was no scoring for a large stretch following the Olczyk goal until Buffalo State’s Mike Zanella pulled the road team within one a few minutes into the third, making the score 3-2, but a resilient Nittany Lions team wanted to win this one in regulation.
Despite a Buffalo State man-advantage that resulted from Penn State’s Michael McDonagh getting whistled for roughing late in the third, Glen got free on a breakaway, netting yet another second-chance opportunity off of his own rebound for an even strength goal to pull ahead 4-2 just as the Buffalo State power-play expired. His second goal of the evening would prove to be the dagger.
“David Glen, you saw why he’s been a captain everywhere he’s been,” Gadowsky said. “He does everything right and he’s such a warrior and that was a huge goal for us.”
Gadowsky was very pleased with the team’s effort after the game, though he did take issue with the team’s eight penalties, many of which could have been avoided as the Nittany Lions took two roughing penalties and one unsportsmanlike conduct.
“We have to compete to stay out of the box,” Gadowsky said. “It’s a fine line but we have to figure out how to do that and if we do I think we could be really good. We have to be better technique-wise. Some of our penalties were poor-technique penalties or retaliation penalties and we have to figure that out.”