Through the first few weekends of the season, Penn State had faced little to no adversity en route to its 5-0-0 start. In those five wins, the Nittany Lions hadn’t trailed heading into the third period.
Entering their matchup with Arizona State on Friday night, the Nittany Lions didn’t expect to face that adversity against the Sun Devils.
Dylan Hollman’s goal late in the second period put the Nittany Lions in an unusual spot with their backs against the wall entering the final 20 minutes of action.
The challenge didn’t faze Guy Gadowsky’s squad, though.
The Nittany Lions scored three goals in a span of 3:09 and held on for a 6-5 victory over the Sun Devils. The message in the locker room during the second intermission was simple from Gadowsky.
“The mindset was to get back to what we know how to do and what we know how to do well, and for us that’s to play fast,” Gadowsky said following the game. “We pushed pace a little bit in the third and we were rewarded for it.”
No Nittany Lion was rewarded as much as Alex Limoges. The sophomore forward netted a pair of goals during that three minute stretch to keep the Nittany Lions undefeated on the season. That clean mark helped motivate the team to come out strong in the third period.
“We didn’t want to lose,” Limoges said.
Limoges’ line, along with Evan Barratt and Liam Folkes, combined for three goals and seven points in the victory. After a breakout party near the end of last season, the trio has continued to be a dominant force for Gadowsky. Limoges and Folkes both have eight points in six games, while Barratt now leads the team with nine points on the season.
The key to the line’s success isn’t much of a secret at this point. The three have developed an almost unmatched chemistry in the time they’ve played together.
“Playing together for two years now helps,” Folkes said. “Everyone got better from their freshman year or sophomore year. I think that, as a whole, is making our line a lot better this year.”
How It Happened
The Nittany Lions found the back of the net a little more than four minutes into the game. After Liam Folkes carried the puck into the Arizona State zone, he fired a pass to the goal with Evan Barratt and Alex Limoges crashing the net. The former redirected the puck into an empty cage.
Midway through the opening frame, the Sun Devils responded on a delayed penalty. As Johnny Walker held the puck along the boards, Tyler Busch found open ice in front of the NIttany Lions net and redirected Walker’s pass into the bottom corner of the goal to tie the game at one.
The game took a bizzare turn as the first period was winding down. After Aarne Talvitie collided with a referee in the offensive zone, the Sun Devils capitalized on the ensuing rush as Josh Maniscalco banked a shot off Chris Funkey and into the net to give Arizona State its first lead of the night.
Just 30 seconds later, Chase Berger answered with a little help from the Sun Devils goaltender. After Daccord stopped Berger’s initial shot, the Ottawa Senators draft pick had trouble controlling the rebound and knocked the puck into his own net to even the game at two.
Early in the second period, the Sun Devils regained the lead. After failing to convert on a power play chance, the Sun Devils maintained possession in the offensive zone and set up Dylan Hollman for a one timer from the slot that went past Funkey’s blocker.
Midway through the period, the Nittany Lions responded once again courtesy of the team’s most dynamic duo. After Cole Hults banked an outlet pass to Brandon Biro, he broke out on a 2-on-1 with Nate Sucese. Biro saucered a pass to Sucese, who fired a shot past an outstretched Daccord.
Late in the middle frame, Dylan Hollman once again put the Sun Devils ahead. Shortly after killing off a penalty, the Sun Devils took off on a 3-on-2 rush. Hollman received a bouncing puck in the slot and in one motion slung the puck past Funkey’s blocker.
The Nittany Lions began an all-out attack to start the third period in an attempt to even the game and retake the lead. Early in the final frame, they accomplished both feats.
After Aarne Talvitie sent a shot on net, the puck ricocheted to the stick of Nikita Pavlychev, who swept a backhand shot into an open net.
Just 27 seconds later, Alex Limoges jumped on the rebound of a Liam Folkes shot and chipped the puck over Daccord to put the Nittany Lions in front for good.
Not three minutes later, Limoges added an insurance marker after a net front scramble. The sophomore forward netted his second of the game by jamming the puck into the net as Daccord was caught out of position.
The Sun Devils didn’t give up, however, and pulled back within a goal with a minute and a half to play. With Daccord pulled for an extra skater, Johnny Walker ripped a shot top shelf over Funkey’s glove. Despite pulling Daccord a second time, the Sun Devils couldn’t generate another quality chance as the Nittany Lions held on for the win.