No. 20 Penn State Men’s Hockey Outduels Mercyhurst 6-3 In High-Scoring Affair

No. 20 Penn State men’s hockey (3-0) defeated Mercyhurst (0-5) 6-3 for its third straight win to open the season.

A big offensive performance from Penn State was able to overcome a rough night for goaltender Liam Souliere on Thursday. The power play also struggled, failing to generate many scoring chances in three opportunities.

How It Happened

Penn State entered Thursday’s game trying to remain undefeated in the young season after sweeping Canisius last weekend.

Starting goaltender Liam Souliere returned to the net following a brief one-game absence due to an undisclosed injury. The junior was solid in the season opener, allowing just two goals on 36 shots. Tyler Harmon got the start in net for the Lakers.

Penn State won the faceoff and went right to work. Senior Ture Linden scored his second goal of the season just seven seconds in to give the Nittany Lions the very early lead.

It didn’t take long for Mercyhurst to bounce back from the early deficit. Just over three minutes later, Lakers captain Rylee St. Onge beat Souliere up high for his second goal of the season, tying the game at one.

Despite finding the back of the net, Penn State got too close to Harmon in net, and Tyler Paquette had what would’ve been his first goal of the season taken off the board due to a crease violation. Harmon was shaken up on the play but remained in the game.

Penn State was given the first penalty of the game just over halfway through the period, as Xander Lamppa was sent to the box for two minutes for hooking. The Nittany Lions killed off the penalty with ease, sending the game back to even strength with nine and a half remaining in the opening period.

After a few minutes of back-and-forth hockey, the next great scoring chance came on a Kevin Wall shot that rang off the post. The game remained knotted up at one entering the final five minutes of the opening period.

With just over four minutes to play in the first, Penn State was given its first power play opportunity of the game thanks to an elbowing penalty by Lakers forward Dalton Hunter. The Nittany Lions failed to put any sustained pressure on Mercyhurst during the man advantage.

Penn State and Mercyhurst entered the first intermission tied at one. The Nittany Lions held a heavy advantage in shots 18-8.

The first real scoring chance of the second period came just over five minutes in when sophomore Ben Schoen set up defenseman Carter Schade with a one-timer in the slot. Harmon made the save to keep the game tied.

Senior Tyler Gratton was sent to the box for two minutes for interference to give Mercyhurst the first man advantage of the second period. Much like the Lakers’ first power play opportunity, they didn’t have much success. Gratton exited the box with the game still knotted up at one.

A bad turnover in their offensive zone cost the Lakers big time. Ben Schoen got Harmon out of position with a nice stick handle and beat the veteran goaltender with a backhand for his first of the season.

Mercyhurst answered quickly back with a goal of its own to even the game back up. Just over 90 seconds after Penn State’s goal, Lakers forward Jonathan Bendorf scored on a two-on-one for his second goal of the season.

The Nittany Lions answered right back to retake the lead. Kevin Wall beat Harmon with a one-timer close to the net for his third of the season, tying Ryan Kirwan for the team lead. Linden and defenseman Jimmy Dowd Jr. were credited with the assists to set up the go-ahead goal.

Penn State continued to pour it on in the latter part of the second period. Pottstown native Dylan Gratton scored his first-ever collegiate goal to put the Nittany Lions up two. Schoen was credited with the assist, his second point of the game.

A high sticking penalty by Mercyhurst gave Penn State the opportunity to build on its already dominating second period. Instead, it was the Lakers who found the back of the net despite being down a man. Junior defenseman Christian Berger turned the puck over at the blue line, sending Mercyhurst on the breakaway. Senior Eric Esposito beat Souliere up high for his first of the season.

An action-packed second period sent the game into the second intermission with Penn State leading Mercyhurst 4-3. Shots remained in favor of Penn State 33-14. The Nittany Lions started the third with 20 seconds of leftover power play time.

Penn State had an excellent scoring chance at the 1:43 mark of the third period, but Harmon made an incredible pad save to keep the Nittany Lion lead at one.

Christian Berger lit the lamp around the eight-minute mark of the third period to recover nicely following a costly turnover earlier in the game. Xander Lamppa was credited with the lone assist on the play for his first point of the season. It was also Berger’s first goal of the season.

Penn State had another opportunity to add to its lead with its third power play of the game. Much like the other two, the Nittany Lions weren’t able to generate many scoring chances.

After watching his younger brother Dylan light the lamp earlier in the game, assistant captain Tyler Gratton beat Harmon for his second goal of the season. Penn State then won the game 6-3.


  • Goaltender Liam Souliere struggled in his return to the net on Thursday night. Despite recording the win, the Ontario native allowed three goals on 22 shots. The high-glove side was a weak spot for Souliere, as the Lakers scored a few of their goals by beating him upstairs.
  • Penn State’s top line of Kirwan-Linden-Wall was unbelievable, accounting for two of the team’s six goals. Wall and Linden scored a goal apiece to lead the Nittany Lions to their third straight win.
  • The power play struggled mightily on Thursday night. Despite the win, Penn State did not score on its three opportunities while creating few opportunities. Mercyhurst did a great job of not allowing the Nittany Lions to get set up in the offensive zone. Penn State also allowed a shorthanded goal following a bad offensive possession.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will go for the season sweep of Mercyhurst on Friday night. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. from Erie, PA.

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About the Author

Devon Craley

Devon is a junior studying sports journalism. He has the genuine misfortune of being a Philadelphia sports fan...IYKYK. Send your hot takes and preferably your freezing cold takes on Twitter to @devon3134. Devon is also your friendly, neighborhood State College movie nerd.

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