‘Unenthused’ Penn State Falls to Western Michigan 4-1
After falling in the first round of the Three Rivers Classic on Monday night, the Penn State hockey team looked to recapture momentum on Tuesday against Western Michigan in the consolation game. Unfortunately, the Nittany Lions looked uninspired in CONSOL Energy Center, falling to the Broncos 4-1. The loss dropped the team to 9-6-2 on the year.
“We didn’t seem to match competitiveness or push back,” said coach Guy Gadowsky after the game. “It was unenthused. That’s not like us, and it’s a little disappointing to see. It’s something that I don’t think anyone in that locker room accepts.”
Both teams started slow in the first period, but Western Michigan was able to get on the board first less than eight minutes in. Captain Sheldon Dries took a slick pass from Nolan LaPorte and wristed the puck over Matthew Skoff’s left shoulder to put the Broncos up 1-0. Penn State had almost four straight minutes of power play time when WMU got called for two penalties, but couldn’t make anything of it as the period ended with WMU leading 1-0.
Western Michigan’s momentum carried into the second period, when Aidan Muir put one off a Nittany Lion defender’s leg and past Skoff just 1:19 into the period. Penn State had a few tough chances, but all mojo that it tried to generate was killed with 5 minutes left in the period, when Colton Hargrove capitalized off a turnover and scored to put the Broncos up 3-0.
Penn State looked better in the third period, getting a few solid chances early on before getting on the board at 3:53 of the third period. Curtis Loik scored top shelf off an Erik Autio assist to make it 3-1.
“I just found it by the net, Autio put it on net. I just saw the loose puck, went to it, and no one was one me. I just chipped it in over the goalie.”
Any chances of a comeback were ended, however, when Muir scored his second of the night with 8:38 left in the game. Skoff was then pulled in favor of PJ Musico, who saw game action for the first time this year. Musico made a few nice saves to keep the deficit at 3, but the Nittany Lions couldn’t muster any more offense as the game ended 4-1.
“We didn’t do our habits or objectives,” said Loik. “We didn’t focus or anything like that. We kind of lackadaisically played. We just didn’t have it tonight. We’re gonna have a hard week of practice, and come back against Ohio State.”
This was the final game in the Nittany Lions’ two-month road trip, in which they went 4-5-0. The next game will be at Pegula Ice Arena against Ohio State on January 9.
- Quick stats: Shots — PSU 33, WMU 32. PP — PSU 0-4, WMU 1-2. Faceoffs — PSU 36, WMU 28. Blocked shots — PSU 21, WMU 15.
- Curtis Loik earned the game’s third star for his goal.
- This was the first meeting between the two programs.
- Penn State has played in all three Three Rivers Classics. The team is 2-4 in six games.
Photo by Jen Hudson for Onward State
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