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Denis Smirnov Goes To Hat Trick Valley In Penn State Hockey’s 7-4 Win Over Arizona State

No. 10 Penn State played in spurts tonight in a win over NCAA Division I newcomers Arizona State. Denis Smirnov‘s hat trick started what will likely be another epic point-streak and Andrew Sturtz made his return to the ice as Sturtz-y as possible as the Nittany Lions advanced to (10-1-1) on the season. Defensive woes contributed to a tight scoreboard at times, but Penn State held on to the lead and finished off strong.

How It Happened

The first period was basically the Sturtz and Smirnov show. The pair set the game’s tone early, with Sturtz assisting Smirnov’s sixth of the season 58 seconds in. A sloppy offensive turnover would quell Penn State’s momentum for a while, though. Tyler Busch capitalized on carelessness for an Arizona State equalizer at 8:21. You could tell Sturtz had been itching to get back on the ice the second he was sidelined (bench..lined? benched.) He netted his first of the game off a Vince Pedrie rocket 12:18 into the first.

Goaltender Peyton Jones kept the score 2-1 for a defensive stretch — two fierce saves most would’ve let in come to mind. With five minutes left in the first, Sturtz wasn’t finished yet. The sophomore snagged the puck right off the face-off to put the Nittany Lions up 3-1. If you’re guessing Smirnov put up another to match Sturtz’s just 11 seconds later, you’re right. He tipped it in out front, extending Penn State’s lead to 4-1. At this point, the Sun Devils pulled Joey Daccord from the net and gave Ryland Pashovitz a shot. They got on the board again at 18:10 when Steenn Pasichnuk collected the puck out of the air and shuffled it past Jones. The Nittany Lions exited the first with a 4-2 lead, a 20-12 shot advantage, and two forwards gunning for hat tricks.

The second brought just that for Smirnov — the prolific freshman turned Pegula into hat trick valley 3:29 into the first with his third of the game. He joined the Nittany Lion hatty club — the other members are David Glen, Tommy Olczyk, and Casey Bailey. Arizona State answered with another one at 5:03 to make it 5-3 (kinda weird, right?). Scoring closed out early in the second and neither team notched another point for the next 15 minutes. Both teams got powerplay opportunities that ended up fruitless, but Penn State earned another off an Arizona State tripping call with 22.1 seconds left, so the rest carried over to the third.

Penn State opened up the third period riding on that powerplay, but Arizona State eventually killed it off. The Sun Devils started to creep up on the Nittany Lions on a 3-1 goal run. Jakob Stridsberg notched an unassisted goal for a 5-4 score early in the third. Penn State went on the penalty kill with a rather questionable tripping call on Zach Saar at 10:47 into the third. The Nittany Lions killed it off crucially as the time was dwindling down on a close scoreboard. Right after, Nikita Pavlychev went for the wrap around and nearly got it in, but Nate Sucese buried the rebound for a more comfortable 6-4 lead at 13:16 into the third. That almost did it for scoring despite a few more good chances, but Penn State wasn’t done just yet. Alec Marsh netted his first of the season after taking over hockey’s Snapchat account all day — coincidence? I think not. Penn State finished out strong and ended with a 7-4 win over Arizona State.

Takeaways

  • I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone so ready to bounce back after an injury like Andrew Sturtz just did. The sophomore tallied three points in the first period alone.
  • Defense looked a little off tonight. Jones usually has more help out there and it shows.
  • What happens after hat tricks in Pegula? Do these people get their hats back? Onward State will investigate this extremely pressing issue and get back to you.

What’s Next?

The two youngest teams in the NCAA Division I are back at it in Pegula tomorrow at 3 p.m.

About the Author

Sara Civian

Sara Civian is one of Onward State's three ridiculously good looking managing editors, a hockey writer at heart, and an Oxford comma Stan. She's a senior majoring in journalism, minoring in history, and living at Bill Pickle's Tap Room. Her favorite pastimes are telling people she's from Boston, watching the Bruins, and meticulously dissecting the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album. She's seen Third Eye Blind live 14 times. If you really hate yourself, you can follow her at @SaraCivian or email her at [email protected]

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