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Ice Hockey Recap: Of Facepalms and Philadelphia

While the women's team was idle for the weekend, the men faced off against D3 Neumann for a rare Tuesday game. The men were then on the road Saturday night for a game against Vermont at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

It was a spotty week for Penn State hockey in terms of scheduling. The ladies were off for the weekend as they prepared for the spring semester portion of the CHA conference schedule. Up first for the women's team is a trip to New York to take on Syracuse - a Syracuse team that swept the first set of games between the two teams (4-0 and 6-0). The ladies will most certainly be looking to post better results in next weekend's action.

The men had two games spread out over the week. First was a Tuesday night game against D3 Neumann University. Neumann beat Penn State last season (then as the Icers), 6-3, as part of the Winter Classic series of games. This year, the game was at Penn State, and the Nittany Lions were looking for a win. Next up was a Saturday game against a historically-strong team in the Vermont Catamounts. While Vermont has been having a less-than-stellar season, the fact that the game was played in Philadelphia, just after a Flyers vs. Pens game that kicked off the delayed-start NHL season, certainly helped build some extra excitement for the Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff.

Finally, news on the injury front for the men's squad. Defenseman Luke Juha will miss the remainder of the season with an abdominal injury, while forward Jonathan Milley is out with a lower-body injury (there is no timetable for his return). As for the players returning from injury, forward Justin Kirchhevel (concussion) and defender Brian Dolan both returned to the line-up for Tuesday's game against Neumann. This does leave Penn State heavily shorthanded on the blue line, which will make for an interesting final month of the season.

Men's NCAA D1:

January 15, 2013 1 2 3 OT Final
Neumann (D3) 1 1 0 1 3
PENN STATE 0 2 0 0 2
PSU Goals: Bailey (10); Glen (10)
Neumann SOG: 17
Penn State SOG: 46

Summary: The entire tone of the game was set 20 seconds into the first period, when Neumann's Chris Bournazos slipped a puck past PJ Musico, giving Neumann a very early 1-0 lead. Neumann extended the lead to 2-0 early in the second period, survived the onslaught of shots from Penn State in the 3rd, and finished the game with a goal in the final minute of the OT period, stealing the win, 3-2. In between those breakdowns, Penn State heavily controlled the game as would be expected from this team against a D3 team. Casey Bailey and David Glen both reached the 10-goal mark of the season with goals in the second period to put Penn State back in the game (which is sad enough to say). And the 21-1 shot advantage in the 3rd period is insanely impressive. But, if they could have actually finished one of those shots by lighting the lamp, there'd be no overtime loss, and all would be right with the world. Alas, all we're left with is: **FACEPALM**

January 19, 2013 1 2 3 Final
Vermont 0 1 1 2
PENN STATE 2 1 1 4
PSU Goals: Holstrom (5), Glen (11), Kirchhevel (2), Bailey (11)
Penn State SOG: 32
Vermont SOG: 36

Summary: Because whenever Penn State loses to a D3 team this season, the rebound by beating a decent D1 team in front of a massive crowd. This time, Penn State played in front of a sold-out Wells Fargo Center (likely 15,000 actual attendance) against a struggling Vermont team, and played very well following the Tuesday loss. What we learned from tonight is that Taylor Holstrom and Justin Kirchhevel like to play in the city of Brotherly Love. Both players tallied goals in the Winter Classic game against Neumann last season, and they would both light the lamp against Vermont in this game. Holstrom would get Penn State on the board first early in the 1st period, beating the Vermont goalie through the five-hole. Vermont would control more of the offensive pressure, but goalie Matt Skoff was up to the task. Later in the period, Kirchhevel would find David Glen skating into the slot, and Glen would rip home a one-timer to extend the lead to 2-0.

With an assist not being enough, Kirchhevel got on the board early in the second period. His wrap-around attempt barely squeaked in the net - so close that it needed to be reviewed to see if the puck actually crossed the line. Thanks to the NHL-required replay cameras, the refs were able to check the replays and confirm Kirchhevel's second goal of the season. Vermont would grab a goal on the powerplay s less than two minutes later, making it a 3-1 game after two periods. In the third period, Casey Bailey - who is not about to let Glen take the goal scoring lead on the team - sealed the win late in the period, putting home a rebound to give him goal #11 on the season. Holstrom's assist on that goal gave both Holstrom and Kirchhevel two-point games (1G-1A each) in their return to Philly. Vermont would add a for-who-for-what goal with 10 seconds left in the game, but Penn State would still roll in front of the loud Blue-and-White clad crowd, winning 4-2. Matt Skoff played brilliantly in the 34-save performance.

Season Record: 9-12-0 (7-10-0 NCAA D1) (2-2-0 in exhibition play, not included in the season record)

Next Opponents: The men are on the road next weekend, taking on next-season-BTHC-foe Michigan State for a weekend set. It hasn't been the greatest of seasons for the Spartans, as they find themselves in the basement of the CCHA with a season record of 6-15-3. Still, they're talented (enough to beat #5 Notre Dame, 4-1, earlier this month) and it will be a good measuring stick for this young and now-inconsistent Nittany Lion squad.

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