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Penn State Hockey Defeats No. 20 Arizona State 5-4 In Overtime

Connor McMenamin was the overtime hero for the Nittany Lions during its second consecutive overtime win against No. 20 Arizona State Sunday afternoon.

Penn State men’s hockey fell behind the Sun Devils 3-0 just four minutes into the game but answered with two goals in the first and second periods to tie it up 4-4. Liam Souliere made 36 saves on 40 shots while Penn State captain Alex Limoges scored two goals in the game.

How It Happened

After an emotional overtime win Friday night, the Nittany Lions came out of the locker room with a jump in the first period. They were able to generate a couple of open chances early but failed to get the puck in the net.

After a few minutes of Penn State pressure, Arizona State quickly generated a breakaway from a Penn State turnover and scored the first goal of the game at 3:05 in the first period. The ice stayed tilted towards the Sun Devils early on, as it only took 24 seconds for Arizona State to extend their lead 2-0 at 3:29 in the first period.

Things didn’t get much better for the Nittany Lions after the two quick goals. The Sun Devils capitalized off another turnover and grabbed a 3-0 lead just 4:05 into the first period. Head coach Guy Gadowsky called a timeout after the Sun Devils’ third goal and elected to keep freshman goalie Liam Souliere in the game.

Following the timeout, the Nittany Lions were able to settle down. After a minute of pressure in the Arizona State zone, freshman Christian Sarlo scored his second goal of the season to cut the deficit to 3-1 at 5:20 in the first period. Penn State was able to keep the pressure on the Sun Devils, and the team eventually drew a penalty midway through the first period.

Penn State didn’t make much of the power play, as Arizona State only held the Nittany Lions to one shot on goal. Penn State then took its first penalty of the game for hooking. Despite dominating most of the penalty kill, the Sun Devils were able to squeeze one through Souliere on the power play to extend the lead to 4-1 at 14:05 in the first period.

Penn State didn’t let the big deficit get to them. Alex Limoges scored his second of the series at 17:27 in the first period to cut Arizona State’s lead to 4-2. The Nittany Lions ended the first period with a series of quality scoring chances while outshooting Arizona State 18-13.

The Nittany Lions came out of the first intermission determined to stay in the game. It took only 11 seconds for Aarne Talvitie to score his third of the season and cut the deficit to 4-3. Penn State kept up the pressure after the goal and drew another penalty to get its second power play of the game. After a quick series of chances, Alex Limoges scored his second goal of the game at 4:21 in the second period on the power play to tie the game.

Back and forth play followed the Penn State goal, but sophomore Connor McMenamin took Penn State’s second penalty of the game to send Arizona State to the power play. Liam Souliere was able to stand strong in the net and deny multiple chances from the Sun Devils, as Penn State successfully killed the penalty.

Penn State started to play lockdown defense following the penalty kill while creating multiple chances the other way. Despite having the momentum, Penn State’s Tim Doherty was knocked headfirst into the boards. He skated off the ice and into the locker room under his own power. Doherty later came back to the bench. Penn State kept the ice tilted its way with another high-pressure shift while Souliere did his job at the other end of the ice. The second period ended on coincidental minor penalties with Penn State leading in shots 32-27.

The ice seemed like it was tilted evenly out of the second intermission. Both teams traded scoring chances at each end for the first five minutes. Liam Souliere stayed strong in the crease and was able to fight off shots from open ice and a breakaway midway through the third period. Back-and-forth play continued until Penn State took its third penalty of the game for holding at 12:40 in the third period to give Arizona State another power play.

After more key saves from Souliere and great shot-blocking, the Nittany Lions were able to kill the penalty and keep the game tied. Penn State then followed the penalty kill with two great scoring chances. The third period came to a close after the teams traded chances again. Penn State went into the 3-on-3 overtime period outshooting Arizona State 43-40.

Penn State began the overtime period with high pressure in the Arizona State zone. After a Sun Devils turnover, Penn State broke out in an odd-man rush the other way. Sophomore Connor McMenamin took the shot that went through Arizona State goalie Evan Debrouwer and won the game for the Nittany Lions at 1:28 in overtime.

Takeaways

  • There is still uncertainty around who Penn State’s main goaltender will be moving forward. Despite a rough start to the game, Liam Souliere was able to settle down after the first period and make some phenomenal saves that kept Penn State in the game.
  • Slow starts continue to be a challenge for the Nittany Lions. Penn State allowed three goals in a one minute stretch to begin the game. The team needs to find a way to stop letting one bad goal snowball into another when it gives up the first goal.
  • The puck handling in the defensive zone was not where it needs to be. There is too much sloppy play on the backcheck, and it generated a lot of chances for the Sun Devils. On the other hand, the puck handling in the offensive zone was as good as it has been all season. The Nittany Lions did a great job generating chances in the Sun Devils’ zone.
  • Penn State’s power play continued its roll with another goal on the man advantage today. After a slow start earlier this season, the power play seems to have found its rhythm going into the break. It will be interesting to see if the Nittany Lions can keep it up when Phase II of the schedule begins.
  • Penn State looks like a different team compared to the first six games this season. It seems like the team keeps fighting after things don’t go its way. This is an important recipe for success as the Nittnay Lions look to turn the season around in Phase II of the schedule.

What’s Next

As Phase I of the 2020-21 Big Ten Hockey schedule comes to a close, Penn State will need to wait for the Big Ten to announce Phase II of the schedule in the coming weeks.

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About the Author

Frankie Marzano

Frankie is a sophomore accounting and economics major from Long Island, NY. You can probably recognize him as the typical Italian-American with slicked back black hair. He is an avid fan of the Rangers, Jets, Mets, and any Penn State athletics team. Follow him on Twitter @frankiemarzano for obnoxious amounts of Penn State and Rangers content.

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