PSU Hockey Preview: at Air Force

Air Force - USA TODAY Sports

Penn State hockey travels west to face Atlantic Hockey foe Air Force.

Penn State kicked off its second season in D-I in style, opening the Peg with a dominant 4-1 victory over Army. Check out this video below to see (or remember) just how cool it was. The place exploded (figuratively) on Loik's shorthanded goal in the 3rd period (2:30 in).

Go West, Young Man

The Lions head to gorgeous Colorado Springs, at an elevation of over 7,200 feet, for a Friday / Saturday two game set with the Air Force Falcons. The Lions split two games with the Falcons last season, both at Greenberg. According to Coach Gadowsky, true freshman Eamon McAdam will get the start between the pipes on Friday, and fellow freshman D Matt Williamson will also see ice time. Both McAdam and Williamson were selections in last spring's NHL draft.

The Falcons represent a bump up in opponent quality for Penn State's young squad. Air Force brings a veteran squad to the ice. Though they lost 1st-team All-AHA forward Kyle DeLaurell (19-17-36), and second leading goal scorer forward Stephen Carew (12-17-29) from last season, the Falcons return 7 of their top 10 points scorers, led by junior F Cole Gunner (7-22-29) and senior F Tony Thomas (10-18-28). The Falcons also return 3-year starter Jason Torf between the pipes. Torf started 37 games last season, posting a .918 save percentage, a 2.38GAA, and a 17-13-7 record.

Air Force, though, has had a rough start to its season. They traveled to Anchorage, AK last week for the Kendall Hockey Classic, and dropped games against both Alaska-Fairbanks (by a 1-6 score) and Alaska-Anchorage (2-4).

Special teams and goaltending fared poorly for the Falcons. Air Force had 7 power plays against Fairbanks, but managed to register just 7 shots and no goals, while allowing a shorthanded score. Penalty kill didn't fare much better. Fairbanks capitalized on 1 of 2 chances. Although the Falcons allowed just 17 total shots on goal all night, their goalies made just 11 saves. Starter Jason Torf was pulled in the 1st period (after stopping just 2 of 5 shots) for Paul Moberg, who fared no better, and was pulled for Chris Truehl in the 3rd period.

The next night, versus Anchorage, the Falcons played much better, but Torf allowed the game winner with just 4 seconds remaining in the 3rd period. Anchorage tacked on an empty netter in the last remaining second to make the final 4-2. But special teams again proved costly. The Falcons finished 0 for 5 on PP, and 5 for 7 on penalty kill. Torf, though he wasn't pulled, again had a difficult night, stopping just 16 of 20 shots (80%) - not to his standard. For the weekend, the Falcons finished 0 for 12 on power play, and killed just 6 of 9 penalties, all of which were the 5-on-4 variety. Only Cole Gunner was named to the all-tournament team.

Around the Big Ten Hockey Or-Gan-Eye-Zay-Shun

  • #3 Wisconsin got off to its best start since 2004, with a pair of wins over Northern Michigan.
  • #10 Michigan upset #7 Boston College 3-1, then knocked off RIT 7-4.
  • #5 Minnesota also began 2-0, with a 6-0 pasting of Mercyhurst, and a 3-2 icebreaker over New Hampshire.
  • Michigan State watched on TV.
  • And the Buckeyes tallied the conference's only losses over the weekend, getting shellacked by (now #1) Miami (OH) twice, 6-2 and 6-3.

Question for the BSD commentariat: where can we watch the Lions this weekend? GoPSUSports has the radio broadcast, but I haven't seen any TV or Web feed. Any leads are much appreciated.

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