Penn State Men’s Hockey: Lions Thrash Huskies 7-1 on Holstrom’s 2 Goals


Senior Taylor Holstrom and an explosive five goal second period helped Penn State rout the UConn Huskies 7-1 Saturday afternoon for their first win of the 2014-15 season. The Nittany Lions chased sophomore UConn goaltender Rob Nichols after 34 minutes of play on the backs of Holstrom, David Goodwin, and Casey Bailey’s three point nights after a 2-2 tie in Friday night’s season opener.

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It almost went horribly wrong for Penn State when the team had to kill an early seven minutes of penalty time. Captain Patrick Koudys committed an interference penalty at 3:41 of the first period, stalling any early pressure Penn State had. Forty-two seconds later, junior defenseman Connor Varley was ejected from the game on a checking from behind game misconduct and was awarded a five minute major, giving UConn a 5-on-3 for 1:18 and a normal power play for the remaining 3:42.

In what could have been a huge swing in momentum for the Huskies, Penn State shut down the UConn power play with some brilliant saves from starting goaltender Matt Skoff, even after losing his goal stick, and some key blocks and clears from the penalty killers.

“[Skoff] was just awesome in between the net. It could have been 3-0 them easily and instead we get out of it 0-0,” coach Guy Gadowsky said. “The team certainly responded to his effort and then took it from there.”

“The kill was the key and I think Skoffer’s kill was the key. If you’re going to have a good penalty kill, your goaltender has to be your best killer and he certainly was,” Gadowsky said. “He lead the way.”

The junior had 28 saves on 29 UConn shots and was perfect in the first period, stopping all 14 Husky shots in the initial 20 minutes.

The Holstrom-Goodwin-Bailey line had four goals and five assists in the 7-1 drubbing of the Huskies and nine of the team’s 23 total points as the Lion’s most effective trio of the night. Another line that played extremely well was the line of senior Tommy Olczyk, freshman James Robinson and senior Max Gardiner and while they tallied no points on the scoresheet, they seemed to put pressure on the goaltender every time they were on the ice, especially in the first period.

In the full 60 minutes of play, nine Nittany Lions recorded points in the series closer against the Huskies.

After missing one in overtime last night, forward David Glen cashed in on a Husky mistake for Penn State’s first goal of the game with 6:36 remaining in the first period. Linemate Curtis Loik forced a UConn turnover at the lefthand circle with Glen moving to the front of Nichols. Loik fed a pass that deflected right to Glen and the junior had all the space he needed to fire a shot past the UConn netminder for the 1-0 Penn State lead.

Eric Scheid opened the scoring in the second period 43 seconds in for Penn State, burying his own rebound after jumping off the bench on a line change. Jonathan Milley won the puck free after fighting hard behind the net and passed to Scheid, whose initial shot was stopped but he picked up his own second attempt and went high on Nichols for the 2-0 score.

On the penalty kill, Penn State picked up their first shorthanded goal of the season thanks Holstrom’s first tally at 15:50 of the middle frame. With freshman Robinson sitting in the box for goaltender interference, Dylan Richard picked off a UConn pass and gave a clean feed to Holstrom on the rush, who weaved through the Husky defense and fired a shot at a screened Nichols, who had no idea where the puck was until after it passed over his shoulders and into the net.

UConn cut the Penn State lead to two at 6:02 of the period. Spencer Naas tucked the puck in past a stretched Skoff, who couldn’t get his skate blade all the way across on his left side before the Husky forward stuffed the puck past him.

Holstrom’s second of the game came at 13:01 of the frame on a beautiful shot from the top right circle. The low wrister hit off the inside of the left goal post and went in past Nichols, who was cheating to the right side of the cage on the shot.

A mere 26 seconds later, Goodwin put in his second goal in as many days on a pass from Holstrom, chasing Nichols from the UConn net after letting in five Nittany Lion goals. The sophomore was replaced by senior goaltender Tom Comunale.

Penn State tacked on their first power play goal of the season on a tally by Milley with 1:08 to play in the second period. Goodwin’s pass in front of the net deflected off a skate and went right to Milley’s stick as he was alone in front of Comunale’s blocker side and he tucked it home for the 6-1 lead heading into the third period.

The Nittany Lions had one more goal in them in the final frame with 3:33 left in the game. On concurrent minors from Glen and UConn’s Ryan Tyson, Bailey picked up his first of the year on a one-timer from the middle of the circles that went over the blocker of Comunale and cemented Penn State’s 7-1 win.

Penn State outshot UConn 42-29 and went one for four on the power play, but committed six penalties — including the five minute minor to Varley — to the Huskies’ five after only having one penalty all game the previous night.

“We’re not going to win a lot of hockey games in Division I let alone the Big Ten if [the penalties] continues so we have to learn from it,” Gadowsky said. “We’re not thrilled with it but really like the response we had.”

The Nittany Lions did not allow UConn a power play goal on each of their five extra man chances.

Penn State packs their bags and will head to play in Alaska for the first time in program history next weekend. The Nittany Lions will play Alaska Anchorage at 9:07 p.m. EST on Oct. 17 and Alaska at 11:07 p.m. EST on Oct. 18.