As if we didn’t have enough Penn State sports going on already, No. 10 Penn State Men’s Hockey (1-1-0) kicked off their season this past weekend in upstate New York against two upstate powerhouses: No. 15 Clarkson and St. Lawrence.
On Friday, the Ice Lions laced up their skates for the first time this season and headed to battle.
In a harrowing game that resulted in a 2-1 loss for the Lions, Penn State showed, however, that the team can still play with the best of them after a fairytale 2016 season.
Just 14 seconds into the first period, Clarkson University took advantage of a clumsy turnover and used an odd-man rush to beat sophomore goalie Peyton Jones (Langhorne, Pa.) for the early 1-0 lead.
A tense rest of the first period saw no more points on the board by either team, with neither offense being able to crack the code of the opposing defense.
Clarkson struck again about halfway through the second period as an offensive player for the Knights fired a wrist shot through the Lions’ line of defense to bring their lead to 2-0.
Penn State did not give up, however, and sophomore Brandon Biro (Sherwood Park, Alberta) used a powerplay to his advantage just over a minute later with a wrist shot of his own to put Penn State on the board, 2-1.
Biro was assisted by fellow sophomore Kris Myllari (Kanata, Ontario).
Unfortunately, the Lions couldn’t make a complete comeback, but edged out Clarkson with 39 shots to the Knights’ 21. Jones made 19 saves for the night, while Clarkson’s goalie made 38.
The next night, the Lions traveled a few towns over to Canton, New York, to take on another formidable opponent in St. Lawrence University.
The Lions made short work of St. Lawrence and secured a 4-1 win.
Myllari started the evening off by getting Penn State on the board just nine minutes into the game with a feed from freshman Alex Limoges (Winchester, Va.).
After the lone goal of the first period, Penn State continued its scoring early in the second period with standout sophomore Denis Smirnov (Moscow, Russia) making an appearance on the scoreboard thanks to assists from Kevin Kerr (Bensalem, Pa.) and Trevor Hamilton (Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.).
Liam Folkes (Scarborough, Ontario) had his first goal of the season just before the end of the second period thanks to an assist from Smirnov.
Saint Lawrence finally found enough rhythm to get on the scoreboard early in the third period, and snuck its lone goal past goalie Jones, but that would be their only point of the evening.
Sophomore Nate Sucese (Fairport, N.Y.) and Smirnov used an odd-man rush to their advantage, and Smirnov fed Sucese with a great pass to set the New Yorker up for the final goal of the evening.
Penn State out-shot St. Lawrence 35-31, and Jones made 30 saves for the Lions while SLU’s goaltender made 31.
The No. 10 Lions return to the ice next Friday night for their first Big Ten game of the season against the formidable Minnesota Golden Gophers in Minneapolis with 8 p.m. and 4 p.m. puck drops on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Let’s go, Lions!