Exhibition games often serve to reveal any areas of improvement a team may have that won’t show up in the practice setting. For Penn State, however, there doesn’t appear to much that needs tweaking.
The Nittany Lions were in control of the game virtually from the opening puck drop as they defeated Ottawa 5-0 in Sunday’s International Game.
The Nittany Lions looked like their usual selves, getting production throughout the lineup and regularly having their defensemen join the attack. What wasn’t quite the same was the Nittany Lions performance without the puck.
Though it was just an exhibition game, the Nittany Lions limited Ottawa’s odd-man rushes and held the Gee-Gees to 25 shots during the game.
“I’m sure the goalies got some good confidence out of this one,” captain Brandon Biro said. “Being better defensively is something we were taking a huge focus on this year. To come out and get a shutout in the first game and work out some of the kinks is something that’s going to give us a ton of confidence going forward.”
The goalies won’t be the only ones with soaring confidence. Evan Bell tallied a pair of goals and was Penn State’s top performer of the afternoon. It hasn’t been the easiest process getting Bell acquainted with Penn State’s style of play.
After transferring from Merrimack, Bell was ineligible to play for the first half of last season. He didn’t waste that time out of the lineup, however, as he was one of the hardest workers during that time in anticipation of getting into the lineup. That work has certainly paid off.
“He really used his time to get as strong and explosive as he could,” coach Guy Gadowsky explained. “For him to be able to come along with everybody at the same time is going to mean well for him. I’m excited to see the improvement from last year.”
How It Happened
Penn State opened the scoring just over five minutes into the game. After strong possession work by the fourth line, Tyler Gratton fired a pass back door to Evan Bell, who pinched in from the point. Bell’s first shot was denied, but he stuffed his own rebound to the back of the net.
Just a couple minutes later, Brandon Biro doubled the lead. Sparked by another active defenseman, James Gobetz carried the puck into the attacking zone and left a drop pass for Biro, who fired a shot short side on Nick Hodgins.
Early in the second period, the Nittany Lions top line went to work. Just 48 seconds into the middle frame, Alex Limoges sent a stretch pass to Liam Folkes, who flipped a pass on a 2-on-1 to Evan Barratt. Barratt went bar down to make it a three-goal game.
Two minutes later, Bell picked up his second goal of the afternoon. After weaving through the offensive zone, Bell took the puck from Barratt and picked the top corner on Hodgins.
Early in the third period, Max Sauve gave the Nittany Lions another, redirecting a point shot from Kenny Johnson past Hodgins.