Penn State hockey went 1-for-4 combined in their games this past weekend. The men took on the US National Under 18 team in a two game exhibition series at home while the women travelled to Schenectady, N.Y. to play Union College.
The men split their series against Team USA, first with a 5-2 comeback win on Friday night. Down 2-0 in the early goings of the second period, George Saad scored his first of the year to start the comeback. The Nittany Lions then went on to score four more unanswered points, with goals from defenseman Joseph Lordo, captain Tommy Olczyk, and freshman forward Kenny Brooks, who had two – including an empty netter. Despite being out shot 30-49, Penn State did improve on the man advantage – an area they have struggled with all season – going 2-8 on the power play. Matthew Skoff was in between the pipes for the Nittany Lions and saved 47 in the comeback win.
The team’s success would not carry over to Saturday nights game, unfortunately. The men were shut-out 3-0, thanks in part to a very mistake ridden first period. In the first frame alone, Penn State took 10 minutes of penalties and spent exactly half of the period on the penalty kill. They were out shot again 25-44 and while goalie PJ Musico saved 41 and did everything he could to keep the Nittany Lions in the game, they just did not have the chances on goal to make another comeback. Since this series against Team USA were exhibition matches – they do not count for the standings – Penn State will remain at 8-11-0 for the season.
Over in New York, the women played two tough games against Union, and lost two heart breakers Game one saw both teams scoreless until the last four minutes of the third period, where Union’s Stefanie Thomson put one past PSU goalie Celine Whitlinger to make it 1-0 for the Dutchwomen. Despite the loss, Whitlinger had a career game in net, saving 48 shots for a new career high. However, the team overall had just 14 shots on goal for the entire game – and only two in the second period alone – something the team really needs to work on to string together wins.
In game two, the women were down 1-0 midway through the first and then 2-0 in the early third period. However, just mere minutes later, Jess Desorcie scored her 5th goal of the season to cut the lead to 2-1. Unfortunately, the Nittany Lions could not complete the comeback, and lost another hard fought game to the Union Dutchwomen. Goalie Nicole Paniccia saved 34 in the loss and overall, the team was much better in the shot count with 26 through three periods. The two losses this weekend drops the women’s record to 7-14-1 for the season.
Heading into this week, the women will have this upcoming weekend off while the men will play a rare midweek game. The women will return to action away in a rematch against Syracuse in two weeks on January 25th and 26th. The Nittany Lions played Syracuse back in October at the Greenberg and were shutout in both games, 4-0 and 6-0. As of today, Syracuse hold a 10-10-1 record. As for the men, they will play an interesting midweek matchup against Neumann – who are 9-4-2 this season – on Tuesday at home at 7:30PM. This weekend, Penn State will be up against a 6-11-4 Vermont team in Philadelphia for the Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff at 8:00PM. The game will be held in the Wells Fargo Center immediately after the Philadelphia Flyers have their home opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins at 3:00PM. Make sure to follow me on Twitter for updates on the latest in Penn State hockey!