No. 11 Penn State men’s hockey (3-2-1, 1-1-0 Big Ten) lost in overtime against American International to cap off its first home series of the season.
Cole Hults and Nate Sucese scored for the Nittany Lions, and Chris Funkey made 21 saves in the loss.
How It Happened
The game got off to a slow start for Penn State, which did not record a shot on goal in the first five minutes of first period.
Once Guy Gadowsky’s high-flying offense began to generate scoring chances, there was no denying the Nittany Lions. Cole Hults opened the scoring with his second goal in as many nights at 11:02 of the first period.
Denis Smirnov found the defenseman with a perfect cross-ice pass, and Hults blasted the puck through the goaltender’s legs for a 1-0 lead. Erik Autio picked up the secondary assist on the goal.
Penn State continued to dominate possession throughout most of the first half. Chris Funkey, who made his first start of the season in goal, was not challenged often in the first period; he made seven saves for the Nittany Lions.
Despite a late Brandon Biro penalty, the Nittany Lions brought a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
The second period got off to a similarly slow start to the first period; through the first ten minutes of the period, Penn State only mustered three shots on net compared to AIC’s four.
AIC’s first big chance of the period came on a 2-on-1 rush, but Chris Funkey stuffed the Yellow Jacket attacker’s wrist shot. Penn State quickly followed with a big chance of their own, but Trevor Hamilton’s wrister was denied by the blocker of AIC goaltender Zackarias Skog.
The Yellow Jackets found an equalizer with 5:49 left in the first period; Brennan Kapcheck flipped a shot past an outstretched Chris Funkey to level the score at 1.
Outside of the goal, not much else happened throughout the second period, and the game was tied heading into the third and final frame of tonight’s game. Shots on goal were 21-17 in favor of Penn State.
At the start of the third period, Denis Smirnov went down with an apparent upper-body injury. He sustained the injury behind the play, but did not go to the locker room for treatment. He returned two minutes after going down.
Penn State re-took the lead during Smirnov’s first shift back on the ice; Nate Sucese fired a slap shot from the boards that flew past the AIC goalie’s right ear. The Russian recorded an assist on Sucese’s second of the season, and Trevor Hamilton also got an assist.
AIC found yet another equalizer with 8:01 left in the third period. Dominik Florian snuck a slapper through Chris Funkey’s legs to tie the game at 2 heading into the home stretch of the game. Andrew DeBrincat, whose brother Alex is a rookie on the Chicago Blackhawks, recorded the primary assist on the goal.
After a flurry of chances by Penn State, Trevor Hamilton was injured after a hard collision into the boards. He appeared to favor his right leg when he skated off the ice. He went to the locker room immediately, but returned to action with 1:07 left in the 3rd period.
Nothing was settled at the end of regulation, and overtime was required to find a winner in this game.
AIC scored the overtime winner on a breakaway with 1:13 left in the final five-minute frame, and Penn State dropped to 3-2-1 on the young season.
Player Of The Game
Cole Hults | Freshman | Defense
Cole Hults continues to be the hot hand on defense for the Nittany Lions.
He recorded his second goal in as many nights to open the scoring for Penn State, sliding a shot through the legs of AIC’s goaltender on the power play.
He now has two goals and three assists through the first six games of the season; both of those numbers lead all defensemen on the team.
Penn State is back at Pegula Ice Arena next weekend when it takes on Michigan in the first Big Ten series back at Pegula. Game one of that series starts on Friday at 7 p.m.