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No. 19 Penn State Men’s Hockey Sweeps Lindenwood With 7-1 Thrashing

No. 19 Penn State men’s hockey (8-4-3) iced Lindenwood (3-9-2) 7-1 at home to sweep its Thanksgiving week series and end non-conference play with an exclamation mark.

After both sides felt each other out in a mostly silent first period, Tyler Paquette broke the ice for Penn State, but the tally was answered quickly by Lindenwood to send the game to the first intermission 1-1. The second and third frames were all Penn State, though, as the Nittany Lions hung six unanswered goals on their out-of-conference foes to secure the win and send Lindenwood packing.

How It Happened

After yesterday’s stifling win, head coach Guy Gadowsky went back to what worked, starting the “Kid Line” at forward featuring Aiden Fink, Reese Laubach, and Matt DiMarsico. Dylan Gratton and Simon Mack took the blue line for the opening draw, and Noah Grannan made his fifth start for the Nittany Lions in cage. Matthew Syverson returned to the goal for Lindenwood after appearing as a backup yesterday evening.

Lindenwood began the game strong, containing Penn State in its own zone. Though the Lions spent five straight minutes on the offensive, Penn State managed to hold them to just one shot on goal before creating three of its own in the sixth minute.

With 12 minutes to play in the first frame, Danny Dzhaniyev found space in the neutral zone to outspeed the Lindenwood defense and earn a breakaway. A fake shot was unsuccessful at fooling Syverson and, the freshman goaltender turned him away.

Jarod Crespo took an early penalty as he skated too close to the Lindenwood crease following a save. Amid the pileup, he was called for slashing, giving the Lions their first power play of the game. Though a player down, the Penn State penalty killers looked dominant, creating chaos in the Lindenwood zone and almost tallying a shorthanded goal off the stick of Fink. Syverson managed to keep the puck out on two straight shots while sprawled on the ice to keep the score at 0-0.

After earning the penalty kill, Penn State received a power play of its own after Austin Fraser was sent to the sin bin for roughing with just under 10 minutes to play in the first period. The advantage unit looked cautious as it probed for an opening around the goal but the penalty expired after three low-quality shots.

Back at even strength, the Nittany Lions began to buzz in the offensive end, keeping the puck low while firing six shots on Syverson through an extended possession. The pressure mounting, Penn State’s stifling forecheck won the puck at the blue line and fed Tanner Paquette. He fired from deep and beat the tender blocker-high to put the blue and white ahead 1-0 with 4:44 in the first period.

In the other end, though, Lindenwood created a quick buildup in front of Grannan. The shot came quicker than he expected, and Ethan Zielke slotted the puck home to tie the game 1-1 a minute later.

On the next play, Fink was tossed headfirst into the boards behind Grannan on a routine puck retrieval. The freshman skated away, but Caige Sterzer headed to the box, and after a lengthy review, was sent to the locker room on a game misconduct call.

On the long power play, Penn State spent the rest of the period hammering pucks toward goal but was unsuccessful at converting before the buzzer. The Nittany Lions still had just over two minutes of man-advantage to start the second frame.

Back in action for the second period, the Nittany Lions regained the lead after a minute and a half of high-pressure offense. Ryan Kirwan floated around the right circle throughout the sequence, finally firing home a snappy wrist shot that a screened Syverson couldn’t keep up with.

Still on the power play thanks to the major call, the advantage unit kept up the siege. Another 30 seconds was all it took for Jacques Bouquot to gain space in the high slot and unleash a heat-seeker to the top shelf, doubling down on the power play and pushing Penn State’s lead to 3-1.

Lindenwood’s luck turned with 12:26 to play in the second period as Dane Dowiak was caught hooking in transition. The Lions’ second power play didn’t threaten much, though, as the game returned to even strength with zero shots sent Grannan’s way.

Keeping momentum after the penalty kill, the Nittany Lions rebuffed Lindenwood on just about every zone entry it attempted through the next few minutes. The oppressive forecheck created a golden opportunity in the offensive zone as Fink skated the puck to the left circle uncontested with the defense at his back. He zipped home a snipe to extend his goal streak to five games and push Penn State to a 4-1 lead with 7:58 left in the second period.

The next play, Chase McLane dispossessed his opponent at the half wall to breakaway alone into the Lindenwood zone. He was tripped up, though, and after pleading for a penalty shot, the Nittany Lions were instead awarded their third power play of the tilt. The unit couldn’t convert on its five shots, and the Lions got the kill.

The Nittany Lions refused to leave the offensive zone at even strength and continued to hammer shots at Syverson. Dzhaniyev cashed in up close as he deflected a Kirwan bomb from deep just out of the goalie’s reach and set the score to 5-1 with 2:02 left in the period. The score stood as the second frame ended, Penn State also taking a 37-17 shot lead to the locker room.

After a slow start to the third period, the Nittany Lions ramped up the pressure as the clock passed the 15-minute mark, firing three quick pucks on goal. Gratton took the fourth shot of the possession from the deep center of the attacking third, stinging the iron with a surgical strike to tally his first goal of the season and extend Penn State’s lead to 6-1.

The game turned defensive following the goal as Penn State focused on denying the Lions’ attacking opportunities. Lindenwood only registered its first shot on goal of the period on the power play with less than five minutes to play.

DiMarsico put an exclamation mark on the win and series sweep with a slippery cut to the low slot with just 3.3 seconds remaining in the game, finishing on the backhand to seal the final score at 7-1.

Takeaways

  • While Penn State’s offense didn’t need much help from Noah Grannan to win tonight, the sophomore’s brick-wall impression was spot on. He recorded a season-high .947 save percentage, coming up big on some seriously threatening rushes to keep Lindenwood out of the contest.
  • Welcome Dylan Gratton to the goal column! A rock-solid defender and the highest plus/minus player on the Nittany Lions, he netted a goal of his own with a long bomb from the blue line.
  • The Nittany Lions have certainly rediscovered their identity. Gritty play to win pucks at the boards, face-off control, and stifling defense helped seal the deal on the series. They’ll need to keep the focus on these fundamentals when they return to conference play next week.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will continue their homestand next week with a series against No. 8 Minnesota. Game one is scheduled for December 1 and puck drop is set for 7 p.m.

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About the Author

Jack Scott

Jack is a junior industrial engineering major from Pittsburgh, PA. Sometimes, he enjoys the misunderstanding of his friends and family that Penn State Club Ski Racing may be a D1 sport and usually won't correct them. Jack is way too into Thundercat for his own good. Follow him on Twitter @joscottIV and Instagram @jackscott._iv

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