Penn State men’s hockey (7-8-0) lost 3-2 to the Robert Morris Colonials (7-4-2) Saturday at Greenberg Ice Pavillion. Coming off a 4-0 win Tuesday against Fredonia State, the Nittany Lions were hoping to be above .500 again on the season, while Robert Morris has been 2-0-2 in their past four games, winning and tying a game a piece with both Holy Cross and Ohio State.
Penalties started the game off early with Robert Morris giving Penn State an early power play opportunity just two minutes into the game. However, the Nittany Lions were not able to capitalize on man-down plays, which became a constant theme for the night. After a Colonial goal around the eight minute mark, Penn State was on their power play grind again, but could not take advantage of the situation. Shortly after, the Colonials Chase Golightly scored to make the game 1-0 in favor of Robert Morris.
Penn State was quick to even the deficit early in the 2nd period with a Tommy Olczyk goal. Not even two minutes after, Curtis Loik tapped the puck through the five-hole of RMU’s Eric Levine to make the score 2-1 Lions. After another failed power play on the Nittany Lions part, Robert Morris was able to sneak the puck past Matthew Skoff to make it even again with 6:49 left in the period. At two different times, both teams received penalties — one for slashing and one for unsportman-like conduct — giving each team a 4 on 4 opportunity which neither could capitalize on.
The 2nd period was by far the best period played throughout the night for Penn State. They were able to stay strong and prove themselves against a tough RMU squad. As Olczyk said, “If we play the entire 60 minutes like we played those 15, we have a chance.” Unfortunately, the rest of the game was filled with missed opportunities on penalties provided by Robert Morris.
While the Colonials were able to go up 3-2 on an unassisted goal in the middle of the final period, another four on four opportunity occurred off of a Robert Morris diving penalty and a Penn State boarding call. What made this interesting is when the Colonials got called 30 seconds later for holding, giving the Nittany Lions a 4 on 3 opportunity. Unfortunately, the Colonials penalty killing was on point for the night, being able to hold off the 4 on 3 and the 5 on 4 which resulted shortly after.
“We haven’t really done a lot of 4 on 3 in practice,” Guy Gadowsky commented in regards to the penalty. Three wings and one defenseman consisted of the line during the power play, where Penn State had several chances to take advantage of the rare opportunity they were given, including 3 of their 40 shots which happened in a span five seconds. However, solid goaltending by Levine, and stellar defense by Tyler Hinds, who head coach Derek Schooley says has been a “warrior” the past three games, kept the Nittany Lions inconsistent offense at bay.
“I’m happy with how we played as a whole.” said Gadowsky “I’m not really disappointed, I think we deserved the result we got…Robert Morris is a very good team.” The Lions will play this good team again on the 28th in the inagural Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh. The team has a long break before they reach that date, leaving accountability to stay in shape on the players when they go home.
What this game proved is that hockey is still very much exciting in Pennsylvania. Although both teams are new to the NCAA, they are able to compete against some of the best teams who have been established for years, as the Three Rivers Classic will surely prove where they both have a chance to either play Miami (OH) or Ohio State. This game will hopefully start a great in-state, hockey rivalry for Penn State in years to come.