Penn State Hockey Ties UConn in Season Opener
Penn State began its second season in the Big Ten Hockey Conference with a thrilling 2-2 tie against the UConn Huskies on Friday night. Despite not walking away with a victory, the game was a great learning experience for the team as it awaits a rematch this afternoon.
The Nittany Lions came out swinging in front of a sold-out crowd at Pegula Ice Arena. Neither team was able to find the scoring sheet in the first period, but Penn State was firing on all cylinders as it outshot UConn 13-5.
After the scoreless first, UConn played a much more solid second stanza. The Huskies’ Patrick Kirtland scored the game’s first goal with 9:30 remaining in the period. Shortly thereafter, Tommy Olczyk slipped in behind the defense and drew a hooking call, resulting in a penalty shot. Olczyk was able to capitalize and make the shot to tie the game at 1.
After the game, Olczyk recalled his consequent goal, saying “I knew what I wanted to do all the way, slide it between the goalie’s legs.”
Back-and-forth play lasted until the 4:33 mark of the final period, when a UConn deflection beat Penn State’s Matt Skoff. After a furious rally in the final few minutes, the puck found its way to the back of UConn’s net courtesy of David Goodwin with 48 seconds to go.
The two teams continued their battle through the end of the period and through a scoreless overtime, and ultimately ended in a tie. The teams participated in an exhibition shootout, which UConn took by a score of 2-1.
“I don’t think you’re ever happy when you only score two goals… We didn’t as much tempo as we’d have liked,” head coach Guy Gadowsky said after the game. “But all four lines generated some good chances.”
The teams play again tomorrow at Pegula Ice Arena at 3 p.m.
- The Roar Zone, as always, had an incredible showing. Players spoke highly of its effect after the game. Skoff had one word for it: “Sick.” David Goodwin said that hearing “We are Penn State!” echo through the rink gave him chills. Coach Guy Gadowsky said that the student body “had a lot to do with us tying it up late.”
- Last year, the team’s Achilles heel was taking penalties. After working on their mental game in the preseason, the Nittany Lions only sent one man to the penalty box thanks to an iffy “unsportsmanlike conduct” call on Curtis Loik.
- Two players made their Penn State debut tonight: forward Scott Conway and defenseman Erik Autio. Both players made mistakes at times, but overall had largely impressive showings. Conway showed obvious chemistry with his linemates, Eric Scheid and Jonathan Milley. He tied for second on the team with four shots, and also proved he isn’t afraid to throw his body around. Autio, paired on defense with Connor Varley, often demonstrated his level head and confidence with the puck.
- As a unit, Penn State left little to be desired as far as implementing Gadowsky’s system. If it weren’t for a tone-setting, energized first period and key saves from Skoff, the game could have gotten away from the Nittany Lions. Most of the offensive pressure came from dumping the puck in deep and then chipping it to the net. Tomorrow’s rematch will be an interesting test to see if either team can generate offense from set plays.