Penn State Men’s Hockey: 2-2 Season Opener Tie to UConn


Penn State did not come away with a win in their season opener, or even a loss for that matter. Instead, they tied the UConn Huskies in their home opener 2-2 after 65 minutes of hockey were not enough to decide the game.

Former captain Tommy Olczyk scored the program’s first penalty shot goal in team history and late heroics by David Goodwin tied game in the last 48 seconds of the third period in a high-tempo, but not mistake-free, hockey match.

“I don’t think there was as much tempo as we would like,” said head coach Guy Gadowsky. “But, in the first period I thought we did a few basic things very, very well so I thought our foundation was pretty good, but we didn’t have the flow.”

“We got a tie out of it, there’s a lot of positives, but certainly we will oil up the machine a little bit.”

Two of the last three season openers for Penn State have gone to overtime, their first coming against American International in 2012 where they lost 3-2 in their first Division I game.

The last time Penn State tied a game officially but lost in the exhibition shootout was last year against RIT at home. While Gadowsky and the players agree that the practice is good for when the shootouts actually count in Big Ten play, which starts in November against Michigan, it’s a strange feeling to walk away with both a tie and a loss.

“It does not mean anything, but you want to win it,” Gadowsky said. “It does not feel as good as a tie should.”

The first period was dominated by the Nittany Lions, outshooting the Huskies 13-5 after 20 minutes of play. There were the typical mental lapses of teams with less than a week of practice — misfired passes and over-skating of pucks — on both sides, but Penn State held UConn in their own zone for a good portion of the period. Husky goaltender Rob Nichols had to be fantastic to counter the Penn State pressure in the period and he was, with only a handcuffing shot from freshman forward Scott Conway that had to be bailed out by the defense as his only mistake of the period.

The Huskies made adjustments in between periods pushed back in the second, spending more time in Penn State’s zone and getting more pressure on Nittany Lion goaltender Matt Skoff, who had been almost uncontested in the first 20 minutes.

First blood was drawn by UConn just after the halfway point of the middle frame. Husky forward Patrick Kirtland found space around the defense in the slot and beat Skoff with a low shot just under the Penn State goaltender’s blocker with 9:30 to play in the frame.

Despite not wearing a letter anymore, Olczyk showed why he was the team’s captain for two years on his penalty shot goal at 14:27 in the second period for the team’s first score of the season. The senior was taken down on a breakaway, but seemed calm and collected as he skated down the ice against Nichols and made a series of moves before stashing the puck through the netminder’s five-hole for the score.

Though he’s not known for his scoring on the ice, Olczyk was the last Penn Stater to attempt a penalty shot in the previous season against Boston College, where he missed. The experience helped the senior forward, as he was “a lot more nervous” in his first go-around with the penalty shot than this time.

“I missed a lot of breakaways last year, but it’s nice to score a goal in the first game,” Olczyk said. “Definitely get a little monkey off the back there, don’t have to worry about it now.”

UConn looked to spoil the game for the Nittany Lions after the Huskies took a 2-1 lead with 4:46 to play in the third. Trevor Gerling deflected defensemen Johnny Austin’s shot from the blue line past a screened Skoff for the score to retake the Husky lead.

However with seconds remaining, and with Skoff pulled for an extra attacker, Goodwin found the puck in a scramble in front of the Husky net and slammed it home past Nichols for the tying score and the game’s last official tally of the night.

“I was just kind of there, just whacking and grinding there in front,” Goodwin said. “Honestly, I saw the Roar Zone put their hands up before anything and I saw that and then I put my hands up and scored.”

Sophomore Dylan Richard picked up his first assist of the season on Goodwin’s tying score.

A five minute overtime would not decide the game despite a flurry of chances on either side, with David Glen getting the best one for Penn State a minute into the extra frame but could not poke it home for the win. Officially the game ended in a 2-2 tie, but the Nittany Lions “lost” the exhibition shootout afterwards in three rounds.

Penn State outshot the Huskies 35-28 in the three periods plus overtime and surprisingly committed only one penalty, an unsportsmanlike conduct call against Curtis Loik for spraying Nichols with ice on a hard stop in front of the UConn net.

The Nittany Lions will look for a win tomorrow to finish out the UConn series when the two teams play at 3 p.m.