Guy Gadowsky has often said that Nikita Pavlychev could be one of the team’s most important players without ever producing a point.
Gadowsky won’t complain with how much Pavlychev has gotten on the score sheet, however.
Pavlychev recorded a career-high four points on a pair of goals and a pair of assists as Penn State defeated Robert Morris 7-2 on Friday night.
The performance pushed Pavlychev’s season totals to five goals and 13 points in just eight games this season. The Russian forward is just one point shy of his career-high 14 points from last season.
“It’s nice to see guys who are so committed to the defensive side of the game get rewarded with points as well,” Gadowsky said following the game. “Everybody in this room knows how valuable he is.”
Gadowsky has raved over the work Pavlychev put in over the offseason to become a more complete player and while his point total will come as a surprise to many, it doesn’t come as one for Gadowsky.
“I don’t think people are surprised by it because he’s a very skilled guy and he works so hard. But it’s nice to see. With him, it’s just a matter of work paying off and patience paying off a little bit too.”
Pavlychev disagrees with his coach, however.
“I’m surprised that he’s not surprised,” Pavlychev said.
The other two members of that fourth line chipped in on offense as well. Both Aarne Talvitie and Alec Marsh recorded goals, while Talvitie added an assist as the line combined for seven points in the contest.
Penn State’s depth in scoring has been one of the major bright spots on the season, but to receive such production from the so-called “shutdown line” was even more special for Gadowsky.
“I thought that they have played better, but the pucks went in,” he said of the line’s performance. “Sometimes that’s just the factor of the Hockey Gods evening things up.”
While the Hockey Gods were certainly with Pavlychev’s line tonight, they have been with the Nittany Lions’ top line for some time now. The trio of Evan Barratt, Alex Limoges and Liam Folkes combined for five points tonight, continuing one of the more remarkable stretches of play dating back to last season.
The Limoges-Barratt-Folkes line is responsible for 24 goals and 29 assists over the last 15 games. Just absurd.— Patrick Burns (@PatrickBurns_) November 10, 2018
Over that span:
Limoges: 10 G, 10 A
Barratt: 8 G, 9 A
Folkes: 6 G, 10 A https://t.co/FInAa8gIbi
The trio has served as the catalyst for much of the season to date. While Pavlychev and his line stole the show tonight, that trio’s impact wasn’t diminished on Friday, though the goals were certainly more spread out.
“I thought we sort of needed them to get us going again,” Gadowsky said.
Heading into the third period leading by just a pair of goals, the trio combined for a tic-tac-toe play early in the final frame to give Penn State a three-goal lead and settle the Nittany Lions down.
Minutes after Limoges capped off that tic-tac-toe play, Marsh gave the Nittany Lions an extra insurance tally before Pavlychev finished off the night with a goal inside the final minute of play.
How It Happened
The two teams traded chances thanks to a couple early power plays, but neither side found the back of the net with the man advantage. 12 minutes into the opening frame, the Nittany Lions finally broke through.
After establishing possession in the offensive zone, the puck worked its way to Kris Myllari at the left point. Taking a moment to find a shooting lane, Myllari floated a wrist shot toward the net with plenty of traffic in front of Francis Marotte. Parked in front of the Colonials’ keeper, Evan Barratt tipped the puck off the post and in, extending his goal streak to three games.
Early in the second period, Alex Tonge responded for the Colonials. Taking advantage of an odd-man rush, Tonge received a drop pass in the high slot and fired a wrist shot over Chris Funkey’s blocker.
Midway through the period, Aarne Talvitie put the Nittany Lions back on top. After Nikita Pavlychev tipped a breakout pass to Talvitie, he broke away on a 2-on-1 with Blake Gober. Talvitie fired a wrist shot into the top corner of the net.
Three and a half minutes later, the Nittany Lions doubled their lead on the man advantage, in a nearly identical fashion to their first goal of the night. Parked in front of Marotte, Pavlychev deflected Cole Hults’ point shot through the Colonials goalie’s legs.
Just 30 seconds later, the Colonials cut the Nittany Lions lead back to one. After establishing heavy pressure on Funkey, Grant Hebert’s point-blank shot squeaked through the Nittany Lions netminder.
With under four minutes to play in the middle period, the Nittany Lions restored their two-goal lead. On a broken play that resulted from a Colonials turnover, the puck fell to the stick of Sam Sternschein, who quickly fired a shot through the legs of Marotte.
The Nittany Lions extended their lead to three early in the third period. Alex Limoges finished off a tic-tac-toe play as he deflected a pass from Liam Folkes past Marotte.
Just four minutes later, Alec Marsh powered a shot past Marotte to give the Nittany Lions a 6-2 lead and end Marotte’s night early. The junior goaltender was pulled for the third time this season, with Reid Cooper coming on in relief.