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No. 7 Penn State Hockey Blows Out Merrimack 7-0 In First Game Of Turkey Leg Classic

No. 7 Penn State hockey (11-3-0, 6-2-0 Big Ten) smashed Merrimack (2-9-2, 1-4-2 Hockey East) 7-0 on Friday night on the road.

Liam Folkes recorded the first road hat trick in program history to open the scoring against Merrimack, and his trio of tallies was followed by goals from Kris Myllari, Evan Barratt, Denis Smirnov, and Alex Stevens. Every member of Folkes’ line with Barratt and Alex Limoges recorded at least points against the Warriors.

Sophomore Oskar Autio recorded his first career victory for Guy Gadowsky’s program. He made 16 saves in the winning effort.

How It Happened

Penn State got off to a flying start by taking the first eight shots on goal of the evening, including the game’s opening tally by Liam Folkes with 13:13 to play in the first period. Folkes’ sixth of the year was assisted by Connor MacEachern and Alex Limoges, but he was nowhere near finished after placing a wrister beyond Merrimack goaltender Troy Kobryn.

Folkes added his second of the game after Sam Sternschein was robbed by Kobryn on a breakaway. The senior alternate captain tried to deke the Warriors’ goaltender, but the puck rolled off his stick and into the net, which extended the Nittany Lions’ lead to 2-0 with 2:36 to play in the first period.

Guy Gadowsky’s team held a 15-3 advantage in shots on goal through 20 minutes, which suited sophomore goaltender Oskar Autio perfectly. Peyton Jones’ back-up made just his second start of the 2019-20 season on Friday, and he really wasn’t busy for most of the evening.

Folkes completed his hat trick on a 3-on-1 rush midway through the second period. The Warriors couldn’t finish a 3-on-1 of their own right before Folkes buried his eighth of the year following assists from freshman Tyler Gratton and Barratt, who’s currently working on a six-game point streak.

The rout was officially on when fellow alternate captain Kris Myllari potted his first goal of the season thanks to a shot from the point around five minutes after Folkes’ third goal. Myllari’s score was an unassisted tally that extended the Nittany Lions’ lead to 4-0 with 5:04 left in the middle frame.

Barratt found the back of the net 58 seconds later after a strange bounce, and Penn State entered the second intermission with a 5-0 lead. The junior’s fourth of the year was assisted by Alex Limoges, who put up three assists in the opening 40 minutes of Friday’s contest.

Despite their 5-0 stranglehold of the game, the Nittany Lions didn’t let off the gas in the third period. Denis Smirnov’s rocket of a wrist shot from the faceoff circle found its way home to extend the Penn State lead to six 4:30 into the third period.

Folkes thought he had his fourth goal of the game late in the third period, but it was wiped off the board after a review by the officials. Alex Stevens buried his second goal of the year on a late power play to cap off an emphatic victory on the road.

Takeaways

  • Liam Folkes registered the first hat trick of his college hockey career and the second by a Penn State player this season. Cole Hults’ hatty on opening night was the first by a defenseman in program history, and Folkes’ was the first road hat trick scored by a Penn State player. The senior is also the ninth Penn State player to score three goals in a game, but the Nittany Lions are still waiting for a four-goal effort.
  • Speaking of Liam Folkes, his line with Evan Barratt and Alex Limoges is firing on all cylinders right now. Folkes and Limoges put up three points each while Barratt posted four of his own, and all three have active point streaks of six games following Friday’s big victory.
  • Junior defenseman Evan Bell skated on a pairing with Cole Hults in his first game against Merrimack since transferring away from the university prior to last season. Bell has fit in nicely with Guy Gadowsky’s program after his collegiate career got off to a sluggish start with the Warriors.

What’s Next

Penn State will close out the Turkey Leg Classic with a matchup against No. 15 UMass-Lowell (7-3-4, 4-1-3 Hockey East) on Saturday. Puck drop is slated for 6 p.m.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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