No. 7 Penn State Men’s Hockey Sweeps Alaska Fairbanks In 2-1 Thriller
No. 7 Penn State men’s hockey (13-3-0) survived a late-game barn burner against Alaska Fairbanks (5-7-2) and completed the sweep of the Nanooks with a 2-1 victory.
The Nanooks entered the game hot, outshooting the Nittany Lions en route to their opening goal, dominating the first period. Penn State was able to reset on the powerplay and claw back to level off of a Ryan Kirwan rebound, kill a major penalty, and then finish the game with another powerplay goal by Ben Schoen.
How It Happened
Liam Souliere was given the nod by coach Guy Gadowsky to tend the net for the Nittany Lions this game after stopping a quarter-century of pucks in last night’s close game. Matt Radomsky stood in the opposite cage for Alaska Fairbanks.
Penn State won the opening puck drop, and the game was underway. The teams required no time to get reacquainted with each other after, as Penn State rattled off the first three shots of the bout. Radomsky was still in form as he denied the Nittany Lions on their early chances.
After the opening salvo from Penn State, the period was all Alaska Fairbanks as the team tested Souliere from every angle of its offensive zone. Souliere managed to keep the game even and blocked an insane 10 shots in a row, including screened slapshots from the point and some cheekier low-circle opportunities. The Nanooks held an extremely resilient forecheck and kept the Nittany Lions from clearing their zone for any extended amount of time and kept the ice tilted in their favor.
Penn State wouldn’t be able to hang on for long under the pressure, and the Nanooks were able to cash in on their efforts as Anton Rubtsov slotted the puck home through traffic in front of Souliere, putting Alaska Fairbanks up 1-0.
Alaska Fairbanks almost doubled its lead with five minutes to go as Matt Koethe found space to split the defensive pair and set up in the breakaway, but Souliere stayed home and stoned the Nanook with a pad save.
Penn State was awarded a much-needed powerplay after Brady Risk was penalized for slashing with four minutes in the period. The Nittany Lions were able to utilize their extra skater as they crashed the crease to chase Jimmy Dowd’s rebound, leaving Ryan Kirwan all alone to the left of the goal to hammer the puck home and knot the game up at 1-1.
Penn State continued to claw back for the rest of the period, forcing icings and misplays out of its opponents, and the game went to intermission with both teams evenly matched.
The Nittany Lions returned to fresh ice for period two on a mission, forcing Radomsky to come up big on a bevy of early chances, including a low shot and rebound by Connor McMenamin that went begging.
Alaska Fairbanks almost reclaimed the lead early in the second as a puck trickled through Souliere’s pads, but Penn State was saved by the whistle as the official believed the puck to be frozen somewhere in the pile of bodies on the crease. The puck was still loose, but after review, it wouldn’t have crossed the goal line and the game remained even at 1-1.
Once more, the puck found space between Souliere’s blocker after a long-range shot by the Nanooks’ Markuss Komuls, but the rebound couldn’t be retrieved and the ensuing traffic knocked the net off its post, and the Nittany Lions survived another big chance.
The blue and white had a major chance of its own as Schoen created space on the left circle and found Chrisitan Berger in the slot. The iron rang out as the puck bounded off the crossbar and the go-ahead goal would have to wait.
Penn State found itself on another powerplay after Zachary Power was caught hooking, and it created serious turmoil for its opponent. While the unit was unable to score, the man-up line plugged away from soft spots in Alaska-Fairbanks’ zone for some quality chances.
After a messy neutral zone battle, Ashton Calder was booked for a five-minute major penalty after contact with the head was established by the review team. The Nittany Lion penalty killers have been strong this campaign but would need to be perfect to kill the long penalty. MacEachern caught a slap shot to the midsection, going down hard after the block, but he was able to finish the shift through pain and the kill was still on. The Nittany Lions were able to evacuate their zone and maintain a solid presence in the offensive side to tick away the penalty and return to even strength.
Penn State carried its momentum to the buzzer, putting heavy pressure on Alaska Fairbanks in the final minutes of the second frame, but was unable to break the 1-1 tie as the period expired.
The third period began uneventfully as the puck wouldn’t stay in one end for long and neither team could maintain possession. There was almost a break for the Nittany Lions as Radomsky mishandled a bouncing puck and turned possession over to Penn State in a dangerous area. After zipping the puck to Kirwan, the blue and white were unable to light the lamp as the Nanooks’ goaltender made up for his mistake with the big save.
Penn State almost struck again after Calder corraled a pinballing puck and slung it to McMenamin on a breakaway. He was able to protect the puck with a defender on his inside hip and navigate to the mouth of the net but was hooked before he could take a shot, putting Penn State on the powerplay.
The Nittany Lions created chaos on the advantage, peppering Radomsky with shot after shot. After a long rebound, Penn State’s skaters crashed the net and Schoen snuck the puck into the net in the confusion. This go-ahead goal was the second of the night man-up, the blue and white powerplay unit firing on all cylinders.
Penn State broke out after a blocked shot at the point as Ashton Calder got a stretch pass alone in the attacking third. After decking in and out at the net mouth, he tried to bury the puck but Radomsky stretched out to make the pad save.
The Nanooks stormed back after the rush, throwing three heavy shots toward Souliere, but he was ready for the challenge and kept Penn State in the lead at 2-1.
Alaska Fairbanks pulled its goalie with two minutes to go in the game, trying to get the game-tying goal late in the third. Tension built in Pegula as the Nanooks were urgent in their attack, shooting from every angle. The Nittany Lions were able to pounce on an errant pass with thirty seconds left in regulation and kept the puck from their end until the final buzzer sounded, the score 2-1.
- The Nittany Lions’ powerplay unit dominated tonight, finally contributing on the scoreboard with two goals on three chances. Penn State needs to carry its man-up momentum to the next series and keep its numbers on the advantage trending up.
- Penn State looked tired as it started the game, taking half the first period to warm up to its competition, who capitalized on the slow start with a goal. The Nittany Lions were able to out-hustle their gritty opponents in the final two periods of the game, though, and dominated possession of the puck.
- McMenamin took a cannonball to the midsection during play, spending some time with the trainer before returning to play. The Nittany Lions have some time to rest before their series with Ohio State, so he and the rest of the team will have time to return to full strength.
The Nittany Lions get some much-needed rest this week with their next matchup coming on Friday, December 2, against Ohio State at home in Pegula Ice Arena. The puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Your ad blocker is on.
Please choose an option below.
Purchase a Subscription!
About the Author
Here’s everything you need to know about Penn State’s regular-season finale.
Here’s everything you need to know about Penn State’s regular-season finale.
Our staffers unanimously expect James Franklin’s squad to secure its first 10-win season since 2019.
Happy Thanksgiving, folks! Our staff is thankful for all sorts of things this year, including Meatball Monday, Drew Allar, and the Phillies.