In Penn State’s first game in a week, the Nittany Lions won their second consecutive game for the first time this season Friday night as the team beat the Sacred Heart Pioneers 2-1 at home. Matt Skoff almost had the first team shutout for the season and defenseman Peter Sweetland started in his first game this year on the blue line in the 2-1 victory.
Penn State opened the scoring early on a power play opportunity after Sacred Heart went to the box for slashing at 3:19. On the extra-man advantage, Luke Juha received a pass from David Goodwin and fired the shot from the left point and was originally stopped by Sacred Heart goalie Alex Vazzano but the puck deflected over him and into the net to put Penn State up 1-0 with 3:51 gone in the period. The tally is Juha’s third of the season. Penn State got a second power play opportunity minutes later with 14:12 and could not convert but 8 seconds later, Ricky DeRosa picked up a Olczyk rebound and shot it past Vazzano glove side for the 2-0 lead and his second goal this year. The period picked up in physicality as it went on, but the period was completely controlled by the Nittany Lions, as they outshot the Pioneers 16-3 through 20 minutes.
Though the period started with 1:53 left on a Peter Sweetland tripping penalty carryover from the period before, Penn State was able to kill the minor with ease. The teams traded minors back and forth all period, totaling four between the two teams. Sacred Heart stepped up the physicality after being outmuscled in the first, and gained some life as the two teams met for more than a few extra-curriculars after the whistle. The best action of the period came on a Zach Saar minor that put Penn State down a man with 2:33 to go in the frame. While Skoff was out of position, the defense stepped up huge and saved at least two goals that almost crossed the goal line, including a terrific defensive play by Luke Juha to sweep the puck calmly off the goal line after the shot got past Skoff and redirected off a Penn State player.
In the third, Casey Bailey seemingly tallied his second goal of the season to put Penn State up 3-0 under two minutes into the frame but the goal was waved off, as it was kicked in during a scrum that went past a sprawling Vazzano. Play swung Penn State’s way, as they kept the Pioneers on their heals for almost the remainder of the game; however, Sacred Heart spoiled Matt Skoff’s potential shutout with a late deflection goal with under 30 seconds to play. Penn State originally had a late power play after Sacred Heart took a kneeing call with under three minutes to play but a little over a minute later, Penn State matched the Pioneers 4-on-4 after Goodwin took an interference penalty. The Nittany Lions then went one man down after the extra curriculars turned into scuffles that resulted in coincidental roughing penalties to Penn State’s David Glen and Sacred Heart’s Justin Danforth that turned into a 6-on-4 after Sacred Heart pulled Vazzano with a minute left in the game. Then, Pioneer Will Rayner tipped a deflection past Skoff with 29 seconds to go in the game, ruining his chances for the team’s first shutout of the season.
Penn State outshot the Pioneers 39-21 through three periods, leading Sacred Heart all 60 minutes. Skoff had a good, quiet game despite not getting the shutout, saving 20 of 21 Sacred Heart shots. Casey Bailey had a team leading 6 shots in the game, though he couldn’t find the net minus the disallowed goal in the third. The Nittany Lions went 1-7 on the power play as well, and only allowed Sacred Heart’s only goal on their 8th man advantage as well.
Friday night’s win brings Penn State to 3-3-1 for the season, heading into next week’s home matchups against 12th ranked UMass Lowell. The Riverhawks will carry a 5-3 record into Pegula next week, pending a game against Northeastern University Saturday night. The team’s will faceoff at 7 p.m. on Thursday and Friday night of next week, Penn State’s first midweek matchup this season.