Penn State Men’s Hockey Captures Exciting 3-2 Victory Over Sacred Heart
In its second face-off against Sacred Heart, Penn State defeated the Pioneers to complete the series sweep in what was an absolute showdown of strength and offensive prowess. With goals from birthday-boy Chase Berger, and a Guy Gadowsky-titled “unbelievable” performance by Matthew Skoff, Penn State clawed its way through many moments of adversity to come out on top over a tough Sacred Heart team.
How It Happened
Aside from an early penalty that swung momentum in Sacred Heart’s favor, Penn State started off the first period just as it ended Friday’s tilt: with relentless speed and several breakaway scoring chances. The Nittany Lions also managed to catch a little bit of luck. Sacred Heart found the back of the net seconds after Penn State established full-strength, but eventually had it waved off after further review for an uncalled offsides penalty. As the game remained scoreless, Penn State continued with its strong defensive pressure as it refused to give the Pioneers any real offensive set-up in their own zone. However, that pressure soon let up, letting Sacred Heart’s Zach Luczyk snap a wrist shot past Matthew Scoff to make it 1-0. In the closing minutes of the period, the Nittany Lions showed glimpses of potential scoring opportunities, but repeatedly came up empty. The Pioneers entered the locker rooms with a 1-0 lead.
Tensions were high as the second period began. A couple coincidental roughing penalties by both Sacred Heart and Penn State brought on a lot of animosity between the two teams. The Nittany Lions carried over their ruthless presence in front of Sacred Heart’s net from the first period, but couldn’t capitalize on any of their chances. Obviously frustrated, the Lions continued making bad penalties, but that didn’t stop the offense. Chase Berger buried a short-handed goal, breaking Penn State’s cold streak, and tied the game up at one apiece. Minutes later, Berger ripped a second shot passed the Pioneers’ net-minder, serving as the perfect birthday present for the newly 21-year-old. With the goal, Penn State went up 2-1. On the defensive side, Skoff acted as a brick wall for his team.
The third period encompassed tons of exciting hockey, as well as stressful, nail-biting plays. Skoff’s productivity was strong all game, but Sacred Heart’s Alex Butcher found and exploited his weaknesses with a game-tying goal early into the third period. This didn’t deflate the Lions at all. The Nittany Lions lead the Pioneers in shots on goal all night, and this unrelenting offensive pressure was the name of Penn State’s game. After several high-intensity chances, and big hits from its grinders, Tommy Olczyk netted the go-ahead goal to lift the Lions to a 3-2 lead. Though Sacred Heart pounded last-minute shots at Scoff, Olczyk’s goal solidified a well-deserved Penn State victory.
Player Of The Game
On his 21st birthday, Chase Berger proved that his hot hand isn’t just a phase, with two extremely timely goals in the second period. Guy Gadowski made it clear that he is letting Berger do his “own thing” as he remains the Big Ten’s leading goal-scorer, as well as the freshman leading scorer in division one hockey. His offensive production is only evidence of future successes, and it will be interesting to see how he progresses as the season moves on.
Penn State is slotted to visit Anchorage, Alaska as its third away series approaches Friday, November 20. The puck is set to drop against the Seawolves at 7 p.m.