Ice Hockey Recap: Midweek games and Penn State-on-Penn State Action

If Penn State was looking to make in-roads on a new rivalry at the NCAA level, they may have found a dancing partner in the Robert Morris Colonials. The intrastate aspect certainly helps create some natural animosity (don't worry, Mercyhurst - we'll work on developing a rivalry between our womens' teams). Having the first NCAA-level meeting including lots of big hits, post-whistle pushing and trash-talking, and a close final score may have gone a long way in helping to develop this rivalry.

The Ice Lions were on the road for a set of games - Friday night they were at ACHA D1 PSU-Berks (Ice Lions won the first meeting between these two, 8-3), and on Saturday night was an important game at Rowan University. Both womens' teams remain idle until January.


December 10, 2012 1 2 3 Final
PENN STATE 1 1 2 4
Fredonia State (D3) 0 0 0 0
PSU Goals: Varley (3), Bailey (6), Friedman (1), Loik (3)
Penn State SOG: 50
Fredonia State SOG: 18

Summary: Between the quick turnaround of the travel, and the fact that it's an odd Tuesday night game, the Nittany Lions hoped to avoid some tired legs against a struggling Fredonia State team. Thankfully for Penn State, any lack of energy during the game was matched by the Blue Devils' own lethargy on the ice. The first period saw both teams trying to establish some sort of offensive momentum, but the tide didn't change until a late Penn State penalty kill turned into offensive control for the Nittany Lions. Late in the first, it was Connor Varley's shot from the point that somehow got past the group of PSU and FSU players in front, and then behind the Fredonia goalie, giving Penn State the 1-0 lead. The second period went much the same way as the first - both teams struggling to maintain consistent pressure, with Penn State's talent advantage keeping the game in their favor. A late 2nd period power play for Penn State gave Casey Bailey the chance to extend the lead to 2-0, putting home a Peter Sweetland rebound. The third period continued to favor Penn State, with Jacob Friedman getting his first goal of the season, and Curtis Loik adding an empty netter to clinch up a 4-0 victory, putting an end to Penn State's losing streak. Goalie Matt Skoff picked up the victory along with a couple of firsts - his first shutout, and his first assist (on Loik's goal). Overall, it was a very solid game from Penn State.

(In order to help the part-time grad student, part-time crazy-blogger out a bit, I wrote a longer recap of this game for Kyle over at TYTBlog. Check it out if you want a deeper look at the game.)

December 15, 2012 1 2 3 Final
Robert Morris 1 1 1 3
PENN STATE 0 2 0 2
PSU Goals: Olczyk (2); Loik (4)
Robert Morris SOG: 29
Penn State SOG: 40

Summary: Penn State controlled much of the action from the start, with big hits and scoring chances coming early. As Robert Morris weathered the storm, they would take advantage of a small defensive lapse for PSU, taking the 1-0 lead midway through the first period. Penn State would get back on the jump early in the second period. A Luke Juha shot from the point would deflect off of Tommy Olczyk's backside, tying the game at 1-1. Less than two minutes later, David Glen would go on the offensive rush and see the rebound of his initial wrist shot fall to Curtis Loik's stick, and Loik would give Penn State the 2-1 lead. Robert Morris would counter later in the period with a quick flurry of chances, and then went up 3-2 midway through the 3rd. Penn State would continue to push and get chances, but were unable to put home any of the numerous rebound chances the RMU goalie was providing through much of the night. Ultimately, it was a 3-2 win for the Colonials, despite Penn State dictating much of the action throughout the game - the 40-29 shot advantage for the Nittany Lions was certainly no fluke.

Season Record: 7-8-0 (5-7-0 NCAA D1)

Next Opponents: Next up for Penn State is this same Robert Morris team, except this time it will be in Pittsburgh as part of the Three Rivers Classic (tickets, if you're in the area and looking for something to do). The other two teams included are Ohio State and Miami (OH), and Penn State will play one of them the next day. The Red Hawks have become one of the top programs in the nation, while the Buckeyes are a solid enough team. At the very least, Penn State will have two quality games for the weekend.

ACHA round-up: The D2 Ice Lions were on the road at ACHA D1 PSU-Berks. There was once a time when Berks was actually a borderline tournament team - this team isn't at that level anymore. The Ice Lions have already beaten Berks before, and did it again on Friday night, winning 7-1. The combination of Joe Zitarelli, Chris Lewis, and Mike Broccolo combined for 4 goals and 8 assists on the night (Max O'Malley, Taylor Vincent, Dylan Jones were the other goal scorers). On Saturday. the Ice Lions headed to New Jersey to take on the Southeast Division's 2nd-ranked Rowan University. While I don't have stats as of this writing, I can relay that the Ice Lions picked up a huge road win, beating Rowan, 3-1. With the Ice Lions currently ranked #4 in the Southeast, beating Rowan will go a long way in improving their chances in making the D2 National Tournament. The Ice Lions return to action in January with a road trip to Virginia (1/11 at Liberty, 1/12 at Virginia Tech).

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