With heightened expectations heading into this season, it would have served as a major letdown for Penn State to open its season with back-to-back losses. After falling to Clarkson last night, the No. 10 Nittany Lions rebounded on Saturday evening, topping St. Lawrence 4-1.
After having difficulties connecting against the Golden Knights, the Lions (1-1-0) were much sharper on passes throughout the night, which led to each of their three goals.
On their opening goal of the game, Kris Myllari took advantage of some open ice in the Skating Saints zone, sneaking in from the blue line to the high slot. Alex Limoges spotted him and sent a pass through a pair of Saints defenders. Myllari toe-dragged the puck through the slot before ripping a wrist shot to the top corner of the net.
Early in the second period, Denis Smirnov doubled the Lions lead. Sneaking past the defense, Smirnov received a pass from Kevin Kerr and moved toward Arthur Brey on a breakaway. After Brey committed to the poke check, Smirnov made a quick move and tucked the puck between Brey’s legs.
Liam Folkes extended Penn State’s lead to three later in the middle frame. With the two teams skating four-on-four, the Lions sustained pressure in the offensive zone, with a flurry of shots being stopped by Brey. Folkes snuck away from the crowd and knocked a pass from Smirnov into the open net.
The Saints broke Peyton Jones’ shutout bid midway through the third period, as Alex Gilmour capitalized on the team’s fifth power play of the game, but the Lions held on for the remainder of the game, adding an insurance marker with a little over a minute to play as Nate Sucese netted an empty-net goal.
The win should provide the Lions a spark of confidence heading into their first Big Ten weekend against perennial powerhouse Minnesota. After being held off the score sheet last night, Smirnov led the charge offensively, posting a goal and two assists.
Peyton Jones also had a rebound game in goal, making 29 saves on 30 shots after surrendering two goals on 21 shots against the Knights.
One area that will need attention is special teams. The Lions went 0-for-6 on the power play against the Saints, with a number of their man advantages being cut short by penalties of their own.