Men’s Hockey Outlasts Sacred Heart 2-1
The Penn State Men’s Hockey team earned its third victory of the year on Friday night, defeating Sacred Heart 2-1 in a game that the Blue and White dominated much more than the score showed. The win kept the Nittany Lions undefeated in the new Pegula Ice Arena.
The Nittany Lions started fast in the first period, as they drew a slashing penalty at the 3:19 mark, and scored just 31 seconds later. Luke Juha scored his third goal of the year, assisted by David Goodwin, on a slap shot that trickled past the Pioneers’ goaltender Alex Vazzano. All three of Juha’s goals have been on the power play this season.
Just two minutes later, Sacred Heart took another penalty, and the Nittany Lions capitalized again. Vazzano held off Penn State’s attack for the duration of the power play, including a diving save on a Kenny Brooks rebound attempt, but couldn’t hold up, as Penn State scored just 16 seconds after the power play expired to go up 2-0. Ricky DeRosa scored his second goal of the year off of assists by captain Tommy Olczyk and Casey Bailey at 8:04. The teams traded penalties for the rest of the period, but the Nittany Lions held a comfortable 2-0 lead at the end of the first, outshooting the Pioneers 16-3.
The second period was much less exciting than the first, as both teams struggled to get good scoring chances. The one bright spot for Penn State in the frame was Juha, as a power play shot from Sacred Heart’s Drew George squeaked its way past goaltender Matthew Skoff, but Juha was there to stop the puck just before it crossed the goal line. The save and clear had the crowd on its feet as time expired on the second period.
At the start of the third period, things were looking up as Bailey thought he had another tally for the Nittany Lions at 1:18. The play was reviewed, however, and it was disallowed as the refs determined that Bailey had kicked the puck into the net. That was Penn State’s best chance of the third period, and the team grinded out the clock for the rest of the frame. Sacred Heart went on the power play at 18:50, and pulled its goalie to go on a two-man advantage to try and make the game close, and succeeded in cutting the lead in half by scoring at 19:31. Will Rayner scored scored on a 6-on-4 to ruin Skoff’s shutout and make the score 2-1. The Pioneers couldn’t score again to tie the game, however, and the Nittany Lions came away with a hard fought 2-1 victory.
The team continues its 5-game homestand next week, when it takes on #11 UMass-Lowell on Thursday, Nov. 14 and Friday, Nov. 15. UMass-Lowell was ranked #1 in the country to start the year before dropping the first game of the season to Sacred Heart.
- Three Stars: 3rd star: Matthew Skoff (20 saves on 21 shots). 2nd star: Ricky DeRosa (one goal on one shot). 1st star: Luke Juha (one goal on 3 shots, 4 blocked shots, stick save on a Sacred Heart empty-net shot).
- Quick stats: Penn State outshot Sacred Heart 39-21 in the game. Sacred Heart won the faceoff battle 42-32, and only took 8 penalties to Penn State’s 9.
- Matthew Skoff had a great night. He only allowed one goal late while on a two-man disadvantage, recorded many highlight-reel saves, and finished with 20 saves overall. He improved his record to 3-1-1 on the year, and looks to have the starting job all but locked up. Skoff is the only goaltender on the Penn State roster with a win.
- In his postgame press conference, coach Guy Gadowsky was quick to point out one of the unsung heroes of the night, David Thompson. “The best player on the ice tonight was David Thompson. He blocked a ton of shots, he made great passes, he broke up plays with good stick-on-puck, he was awesome.” said Gadowsky. “He was tremendous out there, and I thought that him paired with (defenseman) Patrick Koudys is just a terrible pair to play against.”
- Redshirt junior Taylor Holmstrom went out early in the first period with what Coach Gadowsky called a “lower-body injury”. Gadowsky wouldn’t go into detail, but did say that Holmstrom should be back for next week’s games.
- One of the biggest highlights of the night was during the second intermission, as the team honored Joe Battista, who is leaving Penn State next week. The team showed a video montage highlighting the new arena and Battista’s involvement in its construction, and presented him with a framed article from his days of playing at the Greenberg Ice Pavilion. Battista, leaving to work for Terry Pegula’s East Management Services as its Vice President of Hockey Related Businesses, continually pointed and acknowledged the student section during the presentation.
- The student section was just as loud and creative as it had been for the first two games, and coach Guy Gadowsky acknowledged that in his postgame press conference. “The student body is tremendous,” Gadowsky said, “I love ’em, I just absolutely love ’em.” The students made Sacred Heart goaltender Alex Vazzano their main target of the night, serenading him with chants of his name, making signs mocking his transfer from Vermont, and creating their own version of the classic “Hey Baby”, modifying the words to ask why Vazzano “sucks so bad”.