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No. 9 Penn State Hockey Shuts Down Alaska-Fairbanks In 7-0 Victory

No. 9 Penn State hockey (3-0-0) hosted Alaska-Fairbanks (2-3-0) for the first time in program history during a game that ended in a 7-0 victory for the Nittany Lions.

Denis Smirnov’s three-point night gave him 100 points in his NCAA career points, and freshmen Tyler Gratton and Kevin Wall each scored their first collegiate points. Gratton’s first-period goal stood up as the game-winning goal, and Paul DeNaples, Liam Folkes, Brandon Biro, Aarne Talvitie, and Nikita Pavlychev also scored for the Nittany Lions.

Peyton Jones was phenomenal in goal for Penn State. He made 29 saves en route to his fourth career shutout and first since the 2017-18 season.

How It Happened

Penn State got off to a flying start after freshman Tyler Gratton opened the scoring 32 seconds into the contest. He tipped a Kris Myllari wrister from the point into the back of Alaska-Fairbanks netminder Gustavs Grigals’ net to make it 1-0 Penn State early.

Aarne Talvitie extended the Nittany Lions’ lead to 2-0 with 13:23 to play in the first period after a gorgeous toe-drag by freshman Connor MacEachern. MacEachern maneuvered past a defender before dishing a perfect pass for Talvitie, who buried the ensuing one-timer. Denis Smirnov picked up the secondary assist on the goal.

The Nittany Lions extended their lead to three when Liam Folkes managed to stuff the puck home on a breakaway. The officials initially called no goal on the ice, but that decision was reversed after a lengthy review. Alex Limoges supplied Folkes with the stretch pass that gave him the breakaway to pick up his second assist of the young season.

Paul DeNaples made it 4-0 with 7:29 to play in the first with his first of the year. He was wide open after Cole Hults whiffed on a one-timer, and he deposited the puck into the net with a gorgeous wrister. Limoges and Folkes notched the assists on DeNaples’ third collegiate goal. Grigals was replaced in goal by Anton Martinsson after allowing four tallies on 10 shots.

A physical first period ended with Penn State leading 4-0 after its offensive onslaught. Shots on goal were 14-7 in favor of the Nittany Lions after 20 minutes.

Alaska-Fairbanks pushed back well in the second period, but the Nanooks couldn’t find a way past Peyton Jones. Penn State maintained its four-goal lead over Fairbanks despite getting out-shot 16-11 in the middle frame of tonight’s game.

Brandon Biro went bar-down with a wicked snap shot to extend Penn State’s lead to 5-0 with 13:24 to play in the third period. Biro’s third of the year was assisted by Nate Sucese and Kevin Wall, who notched his first NCAA point on the play. Nikita Pavlychev stuffed the puck home after a weird bounce to score in his season debut and extend the Penn State lead to 6-0 with 11:18 left in the game.

Denis Smirnov added another with a lethal snipe on the power play to complete the Nittany Lions’ touchdown late in the third period. Smirnov’s first of the year was also point No. 101 of his career.

Takeaways

  • Denis Smirnov had a strong game for Penn State, and he was rewarded with two assists. His assist on Nikita Pavlychev’s third-period goal was the 100th point of his NCAA career and bumped his Penn State totals up to 42 goals and 58 assists.
  • Alaska-Fairbanks is a physical hockey team, and it reflected that with its style of play early in the first period. However, the Nanooks were a bit too physical at times, which led to blatant defensive breakdowns and penalties that led to Penn State goals. The Nittany Lions weren’t soft in this game, though, as several players — including the 5’9″, 165-pound Max Sauvé — dished out
  • This season is only three games old, but the Nittany Lions have gotten plenty of offensive production from the blue line so far this year. Paul DeNaples chipped in with his first goal of the season, and Kris Myllari’s shot from the point was tipped in by Tyler Gratton to open the goal-scoring tonight.

What’s Next

The Nittany Lions and Nanooks will wrap up their two-game set at 7 p.m. Friday back at Pegula Ice Arena.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

Mikey is a senior majoring in journalism and Onward State's Sports Editor. He grew up in Bedminster, NJ and is way too obnoxious about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is hard. If you're dying to see more hockey/golf content on your timeline, you can follow Mikey on Twitter @mikey_mandarino. Send all hate mail, death threats, and your vote for the best chicken parm in State College to [email protected]

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