Penn State Men’s Hockey Cruises Past LIU 5-2
Penn State men’s hockey (2-0) beat LIU (0-2) 5-2 Monday night at Pegula Ice Arena.
After an impressive start to the season on Sunday, the Nittany Lions aimed for the opening-series sweep of the LIU Sharks on Monday night.
Penn State was able to jump out to the early lead and never looked back, as its defense and young stars led the way en route to a dominant win over LIU.
How It Happened
After an impressive outing in the season opener on Sunday, goaltender Oskar Autio was given the start for the second straight game as Penn State went for the sweep of LIU to begin the season.
The first chance of the game for either team came when Penn State forward Chase McLane picked up a loose puck at the blue line and got a clean shot off, but LIU goaltender Kris Carlson had the answer. Despite a few offensive zone chances for the Sharks, it was the Nittany Lions who dominated the pace of play early on, outshooting the Sharks 5-1 in the first five minutes of the game
At the 5:16 mark of the first period, Sharks forward Tanner Schachle was issued a five-minute major for contact to the head. Schachle was also issued a twenty-minute game misconduct for the hit.
Late in the power play, Nittany Lions forward Christian Berger picked up a loose puck in the slot and tucked home an off-balanced backhand shot for the first goal of his Penn State career. The goal occurred with 10:36 remaining in the first period and was assisted by Jimmy Dowd Jr. and Ben Schoen.
Just over two minutes after the Nittany Lions first goal, sophomore forward Xander Lamppa lit the lamp for his first goal of the season and second of his Penn State career. The goal was assisted by sophomore Christian Sarlo.
Penn State’s first penalty of the game came with just over seven minutes remaining in the opening period. With 34 seconds left in the penalty kill, Christian Sarlo was sent to the box for two minutes for high sticking, giving the Sharks a very advantageous 5-on-3 power play. Despite killing off the first part of the 5-on-3 power play, the Nittany Lions were unable to kill off the Sarlo penalty, as Sharks defenseman Jordan Di Cicco creeped in from the blue line and fired the loose puck past Autio to cut the Penn State lead to 2-1.
The Sharks went back on the power play at the 18:46 mark of the first period, as Sarlo was sent to the penalty box for the second time in the period, this time for interference. The Nittany Lions were able to kill off the first 1:14 of the penalty as the game entered the first intermission with Penn State leading LIU by a score of 2-1. Shots after one were in favor of Penn State 14-6. LIU would open the second period with 46 seconds of power play time.
Penn State was able to successfully kill the remaining 46 seconds of penalty time as the game returned to even strength hockey.
Toward the end of the Sharks power play, the Nittany Lions caught a break at the blue line as the puck hopped over the stick of the Sharks defenseman and landed right on the stick of Christian Sarlo leaving the penalty box. The sophomore forward skated in and fired a wrist shot past the blocker of Carlson, giving the Nittany Lions a 3-1 lead.
Aside from the early goal from Sarlo, majority of the first ten minutes of the second period was spend chasing loose pucks in the neutral zone. However, with just over 11 minutes remaining in the second period, the Sharks were gifted a power play when freshman forward Ben Schoen was given two minutes in the box for tripping. The Nittany Lions were able to kill the penalty with ease, not allowing LIU to establish any consistent offensive zone pressure.
After a lot of back-and-forth hockey, it was Penn State that was gifted the next opportunity when Sharks forward P.J. Marrocco was sent to the box for two minutes for elbowing. Despite the power-play time, the Nittany Lions were unable to find the back of the net, as the Sharks did a good job of blocking shots and cutting off the passing lanes. Marrocco left the box and play returned to even strength for the final five minutes of the second period.
Carlson’s rough night for the Sharks continued, as with just under three minutes remaining in the second period, freshman forward Danny Dzhaniyev netted his first goal of the season on a shot that Carlson wishes he had back. Dzhaniyev fired the shot between two Sharks defenders from the high slot and caught the veteran goalie sleeping, giving the Nittany Lions a 4-1 lead.
Shots after two were in favor of Penn State 25-10.
The third period opened with higher levels on physicality than the first two periods. In just the first five minutes of the period, two Sharks skated slowly to the bench with injuries following big hits. Both were able to return to the game.
It didn’t take long in the third period for the Nittany Lions to find the back of the net as senior defenseman Clayton Phillips got loose in front of the net and roofed the puck past the sprawling goaltender for his first of the season and sixth of his Penn State career. The goal was assisted by juniors Kevin Wall and Connor MacEachern.
Penn State did a good job in the first two-and-a-half periods of this one to put this game to bed early. However, the Sharks were able to score with just under 10 minutes remaining to make it a much more respectable score of 5-2. Senior defenseman Max Balinson beat Autio for his first goal of the young season. The goal came at the 10:33 mark of the third period and was assisted by sophomore forward Marty Westhaver.
The rest of the way, the score remained the same, and the Nittany Lions won 5-2.
- For the second straight game, goaltender Oskar Autio led the way for Penn State. Autio was put in a lot of tough situations due to the amount of penalty kills but was still able to stop 17 of the 19 shots thrown his way. However, it is the defense that deserves the most amount of recognition. Autio was forced to make only 17 saves in the game, as to the defense in front of him did a great job of cutting down passing lanes, blocking shots, and making life difficult for the Sharks when they attempted to enter the offensive zone.
- Special teams were key in this one, as both teams combined for a total of 17 penalty minutes on 7 total penalties. Penn State scored on one of its two power play opportunities, while the Sharks registered just one power play goal despite six chances.
- Monday night’s game gave Penn State fans a glimpse of the future in Hockey Valley, as four of the five goal scorers for the Nittany Lions were sophomores or freshmen.
Next up for Penn State is a two-game home stand with Canisius beginning on Friday, October 8. The game will begin at 7 p.m.
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