Every hockey player remembers how it happened.
A first career goal is just that special a moment.
For a few Nittany Lions, Friday night has become a moment none of them will soon forget.
Alex Stevens and Adam Pilewicz both recorded their first career goal while Ludvig Larsson netted his first two goals in a Penn State sweater as the Nittany Lions rolled past Niagara 8-2 on Friday night.
For Stevens and Pilewicz, the goals served as a culmination of the hard work both put in during the offseason to secure a more permanent role in the lineup.
“When you see two guys that have really committed themselves off the ice in training, how hard they work, it is nice to see them have success,” Gadowsky said following the game.
While a special moment for the two sophomores who had played a combined 13 games before suiting up tonight, one of their fellow second-year students also enjoyed the moment.
“It’s awesome. They’re in my class, obviously, so they’re two of my closest friends. It’s awesome sitting on the bench and watching the bench go crazy for both of them,” Evan Barratt said. “It’s just pure excitement watching that happen.”
While it took a full season and then some for Stevens and Pilewicz to have a major impact for the Nittany Lions, Larsson has become one of the team’s best players in his short time with in Hockey Valley.
The graduate transfer has centered the team’s top line and helped improve the team’s faceoff numbers, one of the key reasons he was sought by Gadowsky in the first place. He has also formed immediate chemistry with linemates Nate Sucese and Brandon Biro.
Gadowsky couldn’t be more pleased with how Larsson has performed thus far.
“He’s been everything we had hoped for so far,” Gadowsky said.
How It Happened
The Nittany Lions fell behind the eight ball early in the contest, as Niagara opened the scoring just 69 seconds into the game. After a miscue in the defensive zone, Reed Robinson snuck a rebound between the arm and body of Chris Funkey, putting the Purple Eagles on the board.
Penn State recovered quickly, however, generating plenty of quality chances but failing to beat Purple Eagles’ goaltender Joe O’Brien.
Midway through the period, the Nittany Lions finally broke through. As an odd-man rush developed for the Nittany Lions, Brandon Biro dropped a pass to Ludvig Larsson. The graduate transfer squared himself to the net and ripped a shot past O’Brien’s glove to tie the game at one.
Near the end of the opening frame, the Nittany Lions took the lead for good. After O’Brien stopped a couple chances from Nikita Pavlychev and Aarne Talvitie, Chase Berger knocked home the third chance.
The Nittany Lions carried their momentum into the second period. Just under two minutes in, they took advantage of another net-front scramble, as Liam Folkes finally jammed in the puck after several stops by O’Brien.
Just three minutes later, Evan Barratt extended Penn State’s lead on a broken play. After the puck caromed off Alex Limoges, Barratt took a backhanded swipe at it, whacking it through the legs of O’Brien to give Penn State a three-goal lead.
Not even a minute later, Alex Stevens received a perfect cross-ice pass from Brandon Biro and wired a shot under the crossbar to put Penn State up by four.
Midway through the period, the Purple Eagles pulled themselves back within three goals. With the team’s skating at four-on-four, Stephen Kleysen one timed a shot past Funkey’s glove.
Early in the third period, another Nittany Lion recorded his first goal in the blue and white. Parked alone at the side of the net, Adam Pilewicz received a pass from Berger and wristed a shot off the post and in.
Late in the third, the Nittany Lions converted the extra point on a beautiful passing play, finished off by Folkes burying a one timer.
With time winding down and the Nittany Lions on the power play, Larsson netted his second of the game to cap off the scoring.