No. 8 Penn State men’s hockey (7-0-1, 0-0-0 Big Ten) began its home-and-home series with Robert Morris (3-5-1, 2-3-1 Atlantic Hockey Association) with a big 7-2 victory on Friday night.
Six different forwards — Evan Barratt, Aarne Talvitie, Nikita Pavlychev, Sam Sternschein, Alex Limoges, and Alec Marsh — scored goals for the Nittany Lions, who bounced back from their first loss of the season last Saturday.
Senior goalie Chris Funkey made 31 saves in the victory.
How It Happened
Penn State earned the first man advantage of the game 59 seconds after the puck dropped — Robert Morris defender Nolan Schaeffer was booked for slashing, but the Nittany Lion power play couldn’t convert thanks to three big saves from Francis Marotte.
Evan Barratt continued his hot streak to start the season with a beautiful deflection goal with 7:28 to play in the first period. Kris Myllari fluttered a shot on net, and the Chicago Blackhawks’ draft pick tipped it past Francis Marotte to give the Nittany Lions a 1-0 lead. Alex Limoges picked up the secondary assist on the play. Barratt’s fourth goal of the year gave the Nittany Lions momentum to finish the first period strong and on top with a one-goal lead.
The Colonials got off to a much better start in the second period, and capitalized with a goal 3:37 into the frame. Alex Tonge fired a wrist shot over Chris Funkey’s blocker to tie the game at one.
Penn State re-took the lead when Aarne Talvitie buried his second goal of the year. He cut towards the net on his passing wing on a 2-on-1 and placed a wrist shot over Marotte’s blocker. That was the freshman’s second goal of the season, and it was assisted by Nikita Pavlychev at 8:37 of the first period.
The Nittany Lions went to their second power play of the game after a faceoff violation by Robert Morris’ Daniel Mantenuto with just over 10 minutes to play, but the man advantage failed to convert again. Penn State went right back to the power play after a boarding call on Luke Lynch just 10 seconds after the first penalty expired.
Nikita Pavlychev cashed in on Penn State’s third power play of the game with 8:03 to play in the second period. He tipped a Cole Hults point shot past Marotte to double the team’s lead. The big Russian’s fourth of the year was also assisted by Denis Smirnov.
Robert Morris’ Grant Hebert scored his first NCAA goal just 30 seconds after Pavylchev’s tally. Hebert’s first NCAA goal came on a rebound and cut Penn State’s lead to 3-2.
The goal-fest continued with 3:35 remaining in the third period — Sam Sternschein’s second of the season beat Marotte clean and restored Penn State’s two-goal lead. Denis Smirnov picked up the only assist on the play, giving him a two-point game.
Penn State began the third period with a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play from the line of Alex Limoges, Evan Barratt, and Liam Folkes. Barratt found Folkes in the high slot, and Folkes sent a one-touch pass to Limoges for a wide-open tap in. Limoges’ team-leading sixth of the season gave Penn State a 5-2 lead with 16:34 to play in the third period.
The Nittany Lions continued to pour it on, as Alec Marsh fired a shot past Marotte to extend Penn State’s lead to 6-2 with 12:42 to play. Aarne Talvitie forced a turnover to set up Marsh with a high-quality chance from the left circle, and he converted to score his first goal of the season.
The two teams traded a few minor penalties throughout the rest of garbage time, and Nikita Pavlychev scored with 24 seconds left to put the icing on the cake of a resounding win.
- Alex Limoges, Evan Barratt, and Liam Folkes genuinely love playing hockey together, and it showed yet again. The line accounted for two goals and three assists tonight, but that total could’ve been much higher. To put it simply, all three players were flying tonight with how well they all played.
- Aarne Talvitie can really shoot the puck. His second goal of the season was a perfect example of his deadly wrist shot, but his release almost looks effortless. Fans in Happy Valley and New Jersey should be really excited about what the future holds for the Devils’ sixth-round pick — he now has two goals and six assists in eight games played this year.
- Shot-blocking has been a point of emphasis for Guy Gadowsky all season long, and it continued to be a strength for the Nittany Lion defense. Penn State skaters got in the way of 17 Robert Morris attempts tonight.
- Junior defenseman James Gobetz did not play tonight — Derian Hamilton slotted in his place alongside Kris Myllari.
Penn State will finally play its first road game of the season on Saturday night against Robert Morris in Pittsburgh. The puck is slated to drop at 7 p.m.