Penn State Completes Sweep of Robert Morris
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State men’s hockey team is in high spirits after defending their eight-game unbeaten streak with a sweep of the Robert Morris Colonials. Coming off the 5-2 win at PPG Paints Arena, the Nittany Lions showed off in Pegula Ice Arena, winning 7-4.
The Colonials came out of the gate swinging, as senior forward Spencer Dorowicz backhanded the puck into the net only 27 seconds into the first period. The Colonials were very aggressive from the get-go and maintained their energy throughout the entire 60 minutes.
After just over six minutes of Robert Morris-lead hockey, the Nittany Lions regrouped and returned the favor. On the power play, sophomore forward Denis Smirnov flicked the puck through the five hole of Colonials’ senior goalie Andrew Pikul to tie the game at one.
Smirnov doubled his points for the game at 13:13. After a shot by senior defenseman Trevor Hamilton was deflected up by Pikul, Smirnov tapped it out of the air into the back of the net. The Nittany Lions had taken the lead, but the first period was far from over.
After assisting Smirnov’s second goal, sophomore forward Nate Sucese put a goal on the board himself just under two minutes later. As a pass from freshman defenseman Cole Hults fell to his stick, Sucese rocketed the puck off the right pole and into the net.
Everything seemed to be going the Nittany Lions way as they got a power play with just under two minutes to go. Smirnov lost control of a pass and the turnover lead to a two-on-one breakaway for Robert Morris. Charging toward goal, Colonial senior forward Timmy Moore dumped the puck off at the last second to senior forward Brady Ferguson who buried it.
At the end of the first period, the Nittany Lions led 3-2. The inability to maintain a two-goal lead continued in the less-eventful second period as Hamilton’s power play goal four minutes and 28 seconds in was offset by the Colonials’ junior forward Michael Louria, who scored with 41 seconds left in the period.
The first 19 minutes of the third period brought what seemed like déjà vu. Penn State sophomore forward Nikita Pavlychev’s goal only put the Nittany Lions up for less than two minutes before Dorowicz scored his second for the Colonials, 13:43 in. The Nittany Lions had an incredible opportunity earlier in the period, but failed to convert on a 5-on-3.
Trying desperately to equalize the score, the Colonials pulled Pikul from goal and took shot after shot at the Nittany Lions’ goal. After defending for over a minute, sophomore forward Brandon Biro managed to steal the puck and fling it just left of the empty net. The Blue and White would have another opportunity, as Sucese stole the puck, skated down the ice and placed it in with just under a minute to play.
To add insult to injury, Penn State junior forward Chase Berger added a seventh goal to the tally with his power play buzzer with less than seven seconds left. The Nittany Lions went 3-of-6 on the power play, while the Colonials failed to convert any of their four.
After tonight’s 33 saves on 37 shots and the win, Penn State sophomore goalie Peyton Jones is now the winningest goaltender in program history with 33. Jones was excited, but humble about the title.
“It means a ton, but I couldn’t do it without my teammates,” said Jones. “Every night they look out for me and put their bodies on the line for me. I couldn’t do it without them.”
The Nittany Lions now have nearly a month of rest ahead of them after a streak of four games in nine days. Penn state head coach Guy Gadowsky has no team meetings planned for most of the rest of the month and only has one focus for the team over break.
“We have a lot of bumps and bruises and worse, as you probably know,” said Gadowsky. “So if we can come back healthy, that’s the goal. This was a tough sweep and we got it, I think we can feel good about that, but now exams are on our mind.”
Penn State returns from break on Jan. 5, 2018 to take on the Wisconsin Badgers at Pegula Ice Arena at 7 p.m.
Tommy Butler is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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