Aarne Talvitie, Nikita Pavlychev Develop Chemistry In Penn State Hockey’s Hot Start
“Nikita Pavlychev is No. 2 in the country in scoring” isn’t a sentence many Penn State hockey fans expected to read in mid-November. But you better believe it, as the fifth-ranked Nittany Lions are off to an 8-0-1 start to the season.
Pavlychev and teammate Alex Limoges each have 16 points through Penn State’s first nine games — only Arizona State’s Johnny Walker has outscored the two forwards, and he’s played in 12 games. Pavlychev doesn’t need to put up huge numbers to make a significant impact on the ice, but head coach Guy Gadowsky is pleased to see him produce as much as he has.
“It’s nice to see guys that are so committed to the defensive side of the game get rewarded with points,” Gadowsky said. “Everyone knows how valuable [Pavlychev] is. I don’t think people are surprised by [his point production] — he’s a very skilled guy and he works extremely hard.”
The Pittsburgh Penguins prospect has developed chemistry with one of the team’s newest additions. Freshman Aarne Talvitie has spent the majority of this season on Pavlychev’s left wing. He joined the Nittany Lions as one of their most exciting prospects from the recruiting class of 2018 and has put up impressive numbers while flying largely under the radar this season.
While players like Pavlychev, Barratt, and Limoges have starred, Talvitie’s quietly scored 11 points in nine games, including four in his last two contests. He was brought in for his goal-scoring ability and lethal shot, but he didn’t really have a chance to unleash it until Friday night’s 7-2 victory over Robert Morris.
Talvitie found time and space on his passing wing on an odd-man rush, and he made the most of it by burying a wrist shot into the top corner to give the Nittany Lions a 2-1 lead in the second period. Robert Morris goalie Francis Marotte had no chance on the play thanks to a combination of the freshman’s effortless, lightning-quick release and power.
“We’ve all been waiting to see that shot,” Pavlychev said of the goal. “The goalies are almost afraid to stand in front of that shot [in practices]. Hopefully we see a lot more of it.”
At 6’7″, Pavlychev usually stands out on the ice, even when he might not be performing at his best. Now that he is at his best, however, it’s nearly impossible not to notice his line, and there’s nothing fancy about it.
“They just keep the game simple,” senior Chase Berger said. “They don’t try to do anything crazy — they get pucks deep, battle, and go to the net.”
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The close game certainly made things exciting, which is more than you can say about the first two games, but nothing seemed “fun” about watching each team try to let the other win.
Football has its flaws, but it also has the innate ability to bring people together for 12 Saturdays a year.
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