No. 18 Penn State Men’s Hockey Ices St. Lawrence 4-1
No. 18 Penn State men’s hockey (3-0) concluded its early season road trip with a hard-fought 4-1 victory over St. Lawrence (1-2) Saturday night.
After a physical start that saw Penn State create lots of quality chances early, St. Lawrence silenced the blue and white and opened scoring with a screened bomb from the blue line. After taking the intermission to talk it over, the Nittany Lions returned to the ice to score two one-timer goals on the sticks of Jacques Bouquot and Jarod Crespo to claim the lead. A Ryan Kirwan insurance goal put the game out of reach at the end of the third period and Alex Servagno put the icing on the cake with an empty netter to end regulation.
How It Happened
The Nittany Lions set up with an identical starting six from last night’s win over Clarkson, fielding Simon Mack and Dylan Gratton on defense and Matt DeMarsico, Chase McLane, and Carson Dyck at forward. Senior Liam Souliere, now the third-ranked goalie in program history in terms of save percentage with 0.917, protected the pipes.
The game opened quickly as Penn State entered the contest with a mission to set the tone. Throwing the body, transitioning quickly, and taking quick shots helped the Nittany Lions jump to a 5-1 shot advantage through the first four minutes, but St. Lawrence responded well, closing the gap to 5-5 by the 12-minute mark.
The Saints conceded an early power play to Penn State as Drake Burgin was caught kneeing with 11:25 to play in the first frame. The Nittany Lions managed to create quality chaos at the net-mouth and decimated the penalty kill with 10 shots on net, but St. Lawrence held on to keep the blue and white off the board.
Back at even strength, the Saints set up in the offensive zone and put a quick shot on net to open possession. Through a triple screen, though, Souliere couldn’t see it clearly and it trickled past the goal line, putting St. Lawrence in front 1-0 with 8:49 to play in the first period.
Penn State looked deflated after the goal, taking the rest of the period to ramp back up in intensity, and asking Souliere to hold down the fort while it did. He denied five shots on goal through the next few minutes, getting help from freshman Casey Aman who also absorbed two.
The Nittany Lions had a spark of life in the final minute as Ty Naaykens was called for interference on the transition and the power play went to work. The first period expired mid-advantage, the score 1-0 for St. Lawrence.
Penn State returned to its abbreviated power play following the intermission, putting some quality chances on net, but couldn’t break the shutout as St. Lawrence got its player back a minute and a half later.
The Saints returned to the box 20 seconds later, though, as Luke Erickson was called for boarding. Penn State joined them after a Christian Sarlo interference penalty ended the power play early. The resulting four-on-four period saw the puck slide from end to end, but neither team put together any serious offense.
After the penalty box cleared out and the teams returned to even strength, the Nittany Lions created a lightning-quick counterattack as Dyck skated the puck up ice with Jacques Bouquot close behind. Dyck patiently waited for the lone defender to skate his way before zipping the puck across to Bouquot for a slam-dunk goal, the recent transfer’s first in blue and white, to set the game at 1-1 with 15:19 to go in the second period.
The Saints continued to gift Penn State power plays, this time a roughing call on Morgan Reilly as he tried to clear the crease before the puck was frozen. The Nittany Lions put three pucks on the net, but a brave effort from St. Lawrence’s penalty kill saw two of them blocked by skaters. As the power play expired, St. Lawrence was handed another minor infraction as Max Dorrington was called for interference.
The Nittany Lions wouldn’t be denied this time, though, as Jarod Crespo got open in the slot with his stick high in the air. Xander Lamppa saw the hint and sent the puck cross-ice for Crespo to hammer home a shot that goalie Ben Kraws had no chance at keeping out. The scoreboard now read 2-1 Penn State with 9:50 to play in the second period.
A Crespo pic.twitter.com/zm7trZBtbj— Penn State Men’s Hockey (@PennStateMHKY) October 15, 2023
Penn State kept its foot on the gas pedal through the final 10 minutes, stifling St. Lawrence on face-offs and poaching its transition. The Nittany Lions played a sneaky, trapping forecheck that let a Saints forward into the zone but cut him off from any help, effectively forcing the dump and retreat. On the attack, the blue and white continued to pepper Kraws and the defense with shots from the entire zone.
The high-octane attack translated into serious physicality from both sides. Lamppa laid a ferocious hit on a Saint behind the net, a play that didn’t get a call at the time, but St. Lawrence initiated a challenge. After a tense few minutes of deliberation from the linesmen in the penalty box, Penn State dodged a bullet with no penalty found. The period expired shortly after, the score still 2-1 for the Nittany Lions.
Penn State started the third period with a DeMarsico slashing penalty 30 seconds in, putting the penalty kill on the ice for the second time this game. The unit only allowed a single shot in the two-minute disadvantage, returning to full strength without much fuss.
Souliere kept the lead intact with 16 minutes to play as a rebounding puck bounced just far of his reach and into the slot. He managed to block the resulting cannon from Jan Lasak, this time deflecting the puck to his defense and alleviating the building pressure from the Saints.
The following five minutes were all in Penn State’s favor as its offense went on the prowl for the insurance goal. A three-minute siege of the Saints’ end compounded by absolute dominance on the face-off dot ended abruptly after Alex Servagno was crunched in front of the crease. St. Lawrence was finally able to clear the puck as he made his way to the bench.
Penn State returned to the well for its lead-doubling goal, once more going one time on a cross-ice feed. This time, Danny Dzhaniyev found Ryan Kirwan alone at the opposite circle, teeing him up for a clap-bomb finish to set the score 3-1 with just 4:54 minutes to play.
St. Lawrence pulled Kraws with 3:22 in the period to try to jump-start its offense, but Servagno punished the tactic with a quick empty netter to push Penn State’s lead to 4-1. The buzzer sounded shortly afterward, sealing the deal for Penn State.
- Penn State controlled the game from the stat sheet, leading St. Lawrence 39 to 25 in shots. This figure speaks to the zone time that Penn State created for itself and denied its opponents, effectively saying the best defense is a great offense.
- The Nittany Lions controlled the face-off dot tonight, winning 36 draws to the Saints’ 26. Lamppa, McLane, and Bouquot kept the puck with Penn State all night and punished Kraws for opting for offensive zone face-offs.
- Penn State had plenty of time on the man-advantage today and came away with a goal. The first three were much more effective than the last two, though, but as the season progresses and the unit gets more plays ready to run in game, we should see a more consistent form on the power play.
The Nittany Lions will open their homestand at Pegula Ice Arena on Friday, October 20, with a two-game series against American International. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. The second game of the series will take place at 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 21.
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