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ACHA Recap: Midnight Madness in Kentucky

It was apparently "Guys Weekend" for the four hockey teams, as both womens' teams took the weekend off in preparation for big match-ups next weekend. For the Women's Club Ice Hockey team, they're looking at a major weekend at #2 West Chester, where a solid showing can solidify their position in the rankings to make the D2 Tournament.

On the men's side, the Ice Lions were the only team that played a normal two-game weekend. This is, of course, ignoring the fact that their "normal" games were both played at midnight - welcome to life at the D2 ACHA club level. Where teams (Ice Lions included) are left to find whatever time slot they can grab to own the ice. The Ice Lions headed down to Kentucky to take on a subpar Wildcats team. But at this point in the season, there can be no let-up if you want to make the tournament. Each game ended with nine total goals scored, but they were two completely different games.

Ice Lions Recap:

January 18, 2013 1 2 3 Final
PENN STATE 2 3 4 9
Kentucky 0 0 0 0
PSU Goals: Meehan (2); Vincent (12, 13); Zitarelli (10); Person (3); Vaeth (1); Reluzco (8, 9, 10)

January 19, 2013 1 2 3 Final
PENN STATE 1 4 0 5
Kentucky 2 1 1 4
PSU Goals: Vincent (14, 15); Broccolo (7); Lewis (14, 15)

Summary: Well, so much for worrying about a let up. The Ice Lions took it to Kentucky from the drop of the puck and didn't let up. A 25-9 shot advantage in the 1st period lead to a 2-0 lead for Penn State, with Austin Meehan and Taylor Vincent pushing Penn State out front early. Business picked up more in the second, with Zitarelli, Tyler Person, and Will Vaeth all scoring (with Vaeth getting his first of the season). And the third period was Frank Reluzco time, as he picked up a hat trick in the period alone. Vincent added a goal of his own in the period (which also broke up Reluzco's chance for a natural hat trick), to help the Ice Lions roll to an impressive 9-0 win.

As with every sport, the biggest problem about winning big in one game is making sure you don't have a letdown in the next game. The Ice Lions experienced this earlier in the season against Ohio, where Penn State followed up an 8-0 win with a 6-4 clunker of a loss. And early on, it was trending that way, as Kentucky jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in front of a sizable crowd for a midnight ice hockey game between two D2 club hockey teams. (Big kudos to the UK fans on this one - color me very impressed.) Taylor Vincent would cut the lead to 2-1 on a sweet deflection from Brandon Russo's shot from the point. That would be the score until Mike Broccolo would tie the game 16 seconds into the 2nd period. The two teams would trade goals before Chris Lewis and Taylor Vincent decided to battle for top goal scorer honors. Vincent's 15th of the season was matched by Lewis a few minutes later. The Wildcats would cut the lead to 5-4 early in the 3rd period, but that would be it for both teams, giving Penn State the weekend sweep.

Season Record: 17-4-1

Next Opponents: The boys will look to extend their current 8-game winning streak when they play their final home games of the season next weekend. Coming to State College are a couple of New Jersey colleges - Monmouth on Friday night, and Rowan on Saturday. There is the potential for a "trap" situation here: Monmouth isn't that great, but they can surprise teams; Rowan is the better team and a much more important game in terms of the rankings. Penn State beat Rowan (at Rowan) in December, 3-1, but every game is a must win at this point in the season.

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