Men’s Hockey Makes History in 7-1 Victory Over UConn
Many preseason columns argued that Penn State hockey wouldn’t experience any more “firsts” this season. However, for the first time as a Division-1 hockey program, Penn State put up seven goals in a 7-1 throttling of the UConn Huskies on Saturday at Pegula Ice Arena.
Friday night, the same two teams battled to a 2-2 tie, but this game’s story was completely different. Led by the line of Taylor Holstrom, David Goodwin, and Casey Bailey, the Nittany Lions’ dominated on offense.
It didn’t start out pretty, though. Penn State’s penalty problem reintroduced itself today when captain Patrick Koudys was sent to the penalty box at the 3:41 mark of the first period on an interference call, while fellow defenseman Connor Varley was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for checking from behind just 42 seconds later. UConn’s ensuing powerplay resulted in three high-quality scoring chances, but they were denied by the brilliant goaltending of Matt Skoff.
“[Skoff] came up with three game savers, and we went into the rest of the game even rather than three down,” said head coach Guy Gadowsky. “Not often does a goalie get credit in a 7-1 game, but he earned it tonight.”
After killing the long penalty, the period remained up-tempo and balanced. David Glen scored the only goal of the period, finding the back of the net with 6:36 remaining.
The second period of the game was arguably the most dominant in Penn State history. 43 seconds in, Eric Scheid fired a shot at UConn goaltender Rob Nichols, grabbed his own rebound, and sent it top-shelf. With just over 16 minutes left in the period, freshman forward James Robinson was sent to the penalty box on a goaltender interference call, but playing a man down didn’t stop the Nittany Lions. Dylan Richard rushed up the ice and fed the puck to Taylor Holstrom, who cut to the middle of the ice and scored his first goal of the year.
“There is such a thing as the hockey gods,” Gadowsky said regarding the electric forward. “Holstrom was the best all-around player [on Friday], especially defensively… often those players get rewarded.”
Six minutes into the period, UConn got on the board as Spencer Naas beat Matt Skoff to make the score 3-1. With seven minutes left in the period, the line of David Goodwin, Holstrom, and Casey Bailey took over. Goodwin and Bailey assisted on Holstrom’s second goal of the night, as he sniped the puck low blocker on Nichols. 26 seconds later, Goodwin took a feed from Holstrom and slid the puck between Nichols’ legs to make the score 5-1. Finally, with 1:08 remaining in the period, Goodwin sent the puck across the ice to Jonathan Milley, who buried the goal on the powerplay.
After putting the game out of reach in the second, Penn State played a balanced third period, taking less shots but also shutting down the Huskies. Ryan Tyson and David Glen took concurrent penalties as the game was winded down, and Casey Bailey buried the historic and final goal of the game with 3:33 remaining.
- James Robinson made his Penn State debut this afternoon. Despite a goaltender interference penalty and finishing the game as a -1, he played a great game. Gadowsky was very complimentary of the new forward after the game, saying, “He was awesome. He went to the net better than any of our forwards. Everybody knows when he’s on the ice, he’s very tough to play against.”
- Any time goalies play games on consecutive days, there’s always doubt whether or not they have the stamina to perform at a quality level. While Rob Nichols let in five quick goals before being chased from the net, Matt Skoff proved why he’s Penn State’s starter. He stood on his head on the early five minute and 5-on-3 penalty kills, and ended up with a fantastic .964 save percentage.
- Once this Penn State team gained some confidence it never looked back. Rather than the gritty scoring chances they generated yesterday, the Nittany Lions showed much more finesse with long stretch passes and a number of beautiful shots on goal. They scored five goals before even having their first powerplay opportunity, which is a testament to their preparation.
- Other than penalty minutes, Penn State was dominant in every statistical category. They outshot UConn 42-29, won 39 out of 69 faceoffs (led by David Glen, with 11 wins and 3 losses), had a much better save percentage (.964 to .759), and scored the game’s only powerplay and shorthanded goals. The team as a whole had an incredible showing in the +/- department, as there were two minus players, four even players, and 12 plus.