Penn State (5-0-0) continues its hot start to the season. It was a complete game for the team, facing the two top returning scorers in all of college hockey. Nikita Pavlychev played a great game while playing the defensive forward stopper versus the top line for Princeton.
It was the first game of the season for the visiting Tigers and the fifth game for Penn State. The Lions were able to use this advantage, coming out on fire with two quick goals in the first four minutes. The teams swapped goals in the second period and then again early in the final period.
Penn State and Princeton will play another single-game series on December 15 in Philadelphia at the Wells Fargo Center.
How It Happened
Denis Smirnov got the Lions out to a quick lead with just 1:46 off the clock. Alex Stevens took the puck in his own zone and cleared it all the way out to a streaking Smirnov, who finished for his first goal of the season. Seconds later Brandon Biro had a nice shot on a 2 on 1 break, and the fans within the Pegula Ice Arena were at full attention. Just 2:20 into the game, shots were 6-0 in favor of the home team.
The momentum continued for the next few minutes and culminated with a goal by Alex Limoges on a shot from the point by Cole Hults. Barratt assisted on the play as well. The puck was sent to the front of the net and Limoges deflected it downward and in. Four minutes in the score was 2-0.
Here are the two goals via LionVision provided by Gopsusports.com.
Peyton Jones had a nice save to keep Princeton off the scoreboard midway through the period. Then a couple of minutes later, during the first penalty kill of the night for the Lions, he made another save, preserving the two-goal lead.
Evan Barratt got the second penalty of the night and Jones had to stop a scoring chance in the first five seconds. Princeton held the puck in the offensive zone for most of the advantage, but were unable to score. As a result of having four minutes of power play time, the Tigers were able to tilt momentum, if not cut into the lead. Shots on goal with three minutes to play were 16-13 in favor of Princeton.
Penn State had its first chance with an extra skater toward the end of the period but did not get a shot on goal. Princeton dodged a bullet in the closing seconds when the puck off Ludwig Larsson’s redirect hit the post.
Two minutes into the second period the Tigers cut the lead in half when Matthew Thom tipped the puck past Jones on a play where the goalie was screened. Princeton continued to play inspired hockey and appeared to have the Lions on the ropes, until a veteran player made a hustle play that resulted in a score.
Nate Sucese used his speed to negate an icing call and Princeton had trouble handling the puck behind the net. Brandon Biro ended up with the puck right in front of the net, finishing to extend the lead back to two goals at 5:40 in second period.
The teams swapped penalties, a minute apart, and neither side took advantage. Midway through the game the Tigers had a 22-19 shot on goal advantage. With six minutes to play, Cole Hults took a penalty but the Lions were able to kill it off.
Two minutes into the final period Brandon Biro was given a very questionable penalty when Ryan Ferland flopped to the ice when Biro barely touched him outside of the crease. At best it should have been matching penalties, Biro did touch him, but the goalie embellished the hit dramatically. Less than a minute later Princeton scored the power play goal, on their fifth power play of the night, to cut the lead to 3-2.
The game got very physical following the play, with each side finishing checks and hustling end to end. Aarnie Talivitie made another hustle play to keep the puck in the Penn State zone and Ludvig Larsson ended up with the puck, taking a wrist-shot that Ferland could not locate for the goal. Nikita Pavlychev assisted on the play.
With twelve minutes to play the Lions went on the power play but were unable to convert. Kevin Kerr made the first appearance of the season at defense after missing the first four games for Penn State and he had a gritty block with nine minutes to play. The crowd breathed a sigh of relief as Kerr slowly got off the ice after taking the puck in the side.
Princeton had a flurry of shots on goal with six minutes to play but Peyton Jones and the defense held, turning each away with a save here and a block there. With 4:43 to play Evan Barratt was hit hard into the boards and as a result the Lions had an extra skater.
With 2:40 on the clock the teams were back at even strength. With the goalie pulled on the other side of the ice, Peyton Jones made a final great save to ice the game as the clock was winding down.