Penn State (11-7-2) got the much-needed sweep in the final non-conference series of the season. The win will extend the 6-0-2 unbeaten stretch that the team will take with it to the break.
After a slow start, the Lions scored three straight goals to gain a 3-1 in the first period. Robert Morris added a very late goal in the first period, with just 8 seconds on the clock. Each team scored a goal in the second period for a 4-3 score at the final intermission. Penn State added three goals in the final period to grab the win.
The Lions will play next on January 5, at home versus Wisconsin. The second half of the season will feature some exciting hockey, with 9 out of the final 14 regular-season games being broadcast on the Big Ten Network. Additional games will be available on other networks and free online streams, so it will be very easy to follow the team for the stretch run.
Robert Morris struck first, scoring with less than a minute off the clock. The Lions killed a penalty a few minutes later, and after five minutes it was 1-0 with RMU having a 5-1 advantage in shots on goal.
Penn State had a power play of its own a couple of minutes later and Denis Smirnov didn’t take long to make it pay off.
Seven minutes in, the game was tied 1-1 and the teams were squared up at five shots apiece. At that point the home team, playing in front of a half-capacity crowd inside of the Pegula Ice Arena, began to take control.
Smirnov added a second goal with this amazing pick out of mid-air to give Penn State the lead. The initial deflection was stopped but the rebound went a couple of feet in the air, and Smirnov swatted it in the back of the net.
Nate Sucese joined the scoring barrage with this shot that surprised RMU goalie Andrew Pikul moments later.
With 1:22 left in the first period Andrew Sturtz had a clear breakaway while short-handed. Sturtz was unable to score but on the play he was taken to the ice, so the play negated the RMU advantage. Following the period captain James Robinson had a very lengthy discussion with the referees to get clarification on the call.
With 8.1 seconds left RMU scored to cut the lead to 3-2. Denis Smirnov had a turnover that led to a 2 on 1 that Peyton Jones could not defend.
Sturtz forced a penalty early in the second period and the Lions held the puck for almost a minute with Jones pulled in net with the delayed penalty. Half-way through the power-play Trevor Hamilton stepped up from his defensive position to finish a rebound, giving the Lions back to a two-goal lead.
Midway through the game Nikita Pavlychev took a penalty and Robert Morris had a chance to cut into the lead with the extra skater. The Lions were able to kill it off and on the first shift afterwards, RMU was called for a penalty. That advantage came and went as well and with five minutes left before the second intermission PSU had a 27-22 shots on goal lead.
Late in the period Robert Morris struck again to cut the lead to 4-3 heading to the final frame.
The Lions killed a penalty early in the final period with a great deal of work by Peyton Jones, who was tested several times. PSU went on a power play a few minutes later, and then Denis Smirnov was hit from behind into the boards during the advantage, giving Guy Gadowsky’s team 5 skaters to 3. Both power plays came and went without a score.
Kris Myllari finished a great effort by Brandon Biro to extend the lead back to 5-3 with eight minutes left in the game.
Shortly after RMU cut the lead to 5-4. The Lions looked like they were ready to take control of the game but it would take a little more work. With two minutes left to play the Colonials pulled the goalie for the extra skater. Peyton Jones made a few great saves and with a minute to play, his team having iced the puck and tire, Guy Gadowsky was forced to call a timeout to rest his troops. Nate Sucese scored the empty-net goal to ice the game. Sucese was trying to get the puck to Denis Smirnov for the hat-trick but was unable to get it to him.
With time running out, Chase Berger added an extra point for the 7-4 PSU win on a crossing pass from Evan Barratt.