Men’s Hockey Steamrolls Sacred Heart 8-2, Breaks Program Powerplay Record
Men’s hockey alleviated the bye week blues tonight as it prevailed 8-2 over Sacred Heart. The Nittany Lions tallied five goals on the powerplay, besting their own program’s single-game record (three) and threatening their opponents’ nationally-touted 91.7 percent effective unit. Goalie Eamon McAdam had his best game of the season, complementing the offensive fireworks as he gave fans a peek of what could be in store. Despite a dip in defensive effort in the second period, Penn State’s offense played some of the best hockey it’s ever played since joining the Division I ranks, matching the eight-goal record it set against AIC.
How It Happened
The Penn State offense established a smooth, proactive style right from the get-go. Puck possession and a close chance from the red-hot Curtis Loik kicked off momentum. Assisted by Andrew Sturtz, David Goodwin’s 2-on-1 put Penn State on the board first 3:29 into the game. Initially, defense proved just as vigorous as goalie Eamon McAdam made his best save yet off a behind-the-net attempt. Penn State capitalized on its first power play twice, as Kevin Kerr found Alec Marsh across the zone, then Dylan Richard poked the puck just past the goal line to give Penn State a 3-0 lead with 2:52 left in the period.
Sacred Heart silenced the Roar Zone with a late-period effort resulting in two goals. It was disappointing, but hardly disheartening — the Nittany Lions controlled the first period, and this Sacred Heart awakening merely kept them on their toes. As long as Penn State remained calm, defensive fine-tuning and more goalie protection would rectify late-period mistakes.
The second period started in Penn State’s defensive zone, allowing the defense and McAdam an immediate chance for redemption. Sacred Heart racked up opportunities, and began to close in on Penn State’s shot lead, but the blocker of McAdam contained them all despite poor rebound control. Hungry for a more comfortable lead, Penn State’s offense seemed deliberate. Once in its offensive zone, Sturtz snatched the puck out of the air and snapped a wrist-shot into the top right corner, giving the Lions a 4-2 lead.
Eric Scheid pumped up the Roar Zone with a huge short-handed chance and perpetuated rebound efforts. Kenny Brooks expanded Penn State’s lead to 5-2, capitalizing on the short-handed effort and shoveling it in with 11:39 left in the second period. The feisty Pioneers attempted a comeback, but McAdam robbed them with newfound confidence rearing its head. His occasionally indecisive nature all but vanished in this period, allowing the defense to send the puck up the neutral zone with ease. Goodwin’s third of the season and second of the game was a bar down beauty that gave Penn State a 6-2 chokehold with 4:50 left in the period. Coach Guy Gadowsky commended McAdam’s second period performance in the postgame press conference.
The third period kicked off with a Sacred Heart goalie change, a decision Penn State’s offense quickly took advantage of. Sacred Heart’s frustrations translated to three early penalties, and with 10:10 left to play, Zach Saar slid off the injury reserve and onto the scoreboard off a one-timer from Juha. Chase Berger capitalized on the same powerplay, securing the Big Ten scoring lead with his lamp-lighter coming at the under-10 minute mark to cement the dominant victory 8-2. Besides a chance from Connor Varley that was quickly thwarted by a glove save, the game’s final minutes were marked by the quiet impatience of impending celebration.
Player Of The Game
Eamon McAdam shucked away every breakaway scoring opportunity Sacred Heart threw at him. He entertained a lively Pegula crowd with jaw-dropping saves, despite the Pioneers’ heavy presence in front of the net. With a shaky end to the first period, McAdam bounced back strong in the final two, saving 22 shots on goal in just the second period, and refused let a puck passed him throughout the remainder of the game. This win marks one of McAdam’s more complete games, and bodes well for his future starts.
Penn State and Sacred heart return to Pegula to finish out the weekend series on Saturday, November 14 at 4 p.m.