In front of a crowd over 19,500 — the largest college hockey crowd in Pennsylvania history, Penn State Men’s Hockey rode a strong start and an early goal to defeat the Vermont Catamounts 4-2 Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Penn State scored early on — just 3 minutes into the first period off a goal from Taylor Holstrom, who was able to scoot a puck through the five hole off a pass from Connor Varley. With less than two minutes left in the opening period, Penn State scored again when Nate Jensen moved the puck behind the goal, and passed it to Justin Kirchhevel who found David Glen in the slot to make it 2-0.
Nine minutes into the second period, Tommy Olczyk passed the puck to Kirchhevel who skated around the net and managed to push the puck in the corner past Vermont goalie Brody Hoffman. Two minutes later, Vermont responded, on one of six power play opportunities, by scoring a goal of their own on Matthew Skoff. Skoff, Penn State’s goaltender, ended up blocking 34 shots on the night en route to a strong showing in the victory.
Penn State scored its fourth and final goal of the game with five minutes left in the third period. Brian Dolan had the first shot that was originally blocked, but Casey Bailey was able to get the rebound and score. Vermont was able to score a meaningless goal with 11 seconds remaining as the contest ended 4-2.
For a team that had been struggling, dropping four of its last five games before Saturday night, this is a big win. For the entire program going forward, it is a bigger win. The Nittany Lions have played pretty well on neutral ice this season including a 5-4 win over soon to be Big Ten foe Ohio State at the Consol Energy Center during the Three Rivers Classic last month. With wins in two different NHL arenas this season, Guy Gadowsky’s squad received a lot of national praise following Saturday night, and for good reason.
Penn State improves to 9-12-0 and returns to the ice this weekend to take on Michigan in a two game road series.