Penn State men’s hockey struggled last season at times handling its business against lower ranked nonconference teams and after allowing an early goal it appeared as if it was going to be more of the same.
But this Nittany Lions team is different and rebounded from the slow start to rout Niagara 8-2 in the opening game of the two game series between the teams..
It only took Niagara one minute and 19 seconds to get on the board as Reed Robinson fired a rebound past Chris Funkey, who got the start over Peyton Jones in goal for the Nittany Lions.
Penn State was given three opportunities on the power play in the first period but were unable to capitalize on any of them including one just a minute after Niagara’s opening goal.
The Nittany Lions power play unit struggled all game finishing 1-for-6 but Penn State’s penalty kill unit on the other hand had an excellent game going a perfect 4-for-4.
Denis Smirnov, who returned to the Penn State lineup on Friday after missing the first two games of the season due to injury, was on the receiving end of another big hit with 3:39 left in the game. The Russian had to be helped off the ice.
Ludvig Larsson finally broke through the Niagara defense at the 12:28 mark in the first period for his first goal in a Penn State uniform to level the game at one. Larsson added a second goal with 2:18 remaining in the game.
Penn State continued to pressure the Niagara defense and with one minute 14 seconds left in the opening period captain Chase Berger gave the Nittany Lions a 2-1 advantage with a goal off a rebound.
The Nittany Lions continued their momentum into the second period as Liam Folkes scored his second goal of the season in a scrum of players in front of the net just one minute and 42 seconds into the second period.
Penn State continued to pour it on in the second period as Evan Barratt picked up his first goal of the season to extend the Nittany Lion lead to three.
The disastrous second period continued for the Purple Eagles as Alex Stevens scored his first Penn State goal less than a minute after the Biro goal to give Penn State a 5-1 lead.
With 11:56 left in the second period, Joe O’Brien, Niagara’s goalie, came out of the net to redirect a puck where he was met by Nate Sucese who took O’Brien to down to the ice which escalated into a brawl and five penalties between the two teams.
Niagara’s Stephen Kleysen got a goal back for the Purple Eagles while the teams were playing 4-on-4 to make the game 5-2.
Shortly after the Purple Eagle’s goal, Jared Brandt got whistled for hooking making a total of seven players between the two teams in the penalty box.
The second period concluded with four goals and eight penalties between the two teams.
Adam Pilewicz became the third player to score their first goal in a Penn State uniform in the third period to give the Nittany Lions a 6-2 lead.
With 4:49 left in the final period, Folkes added his second game of the game off a cross-ice feed from Sucese.
Penn State will retake the ice on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. for the second game and final game against the Purple Eagles.