It didn’t produce a win, and the game didn’t count, but there were flashes of the Penn State hockey team we’ve been used to seeing.
The fast-paced skating, bevy of shots and a little late-game drama provided a glimpse of the future.
After two Nittany Lion goals tied the game in the third period, Quinn O’Brien scored 1:23 into overtime Sunday afternoon at Pegula Ice Arena to give Ottawa a 4-3 victory.
Denis Smirnov and Brandon Biro had the late back-to-back goals during a 5-on-3 power play, and freshman Cole Hults netted the other score as Penn State had a decisive 53-21 advantage in shots.
“Shaking the rust off,” said Biro, a sophomore. “(This was) our first game since last (March). New teammates, new linemates, so just a little bit of rust to shake off. We’re excited for where we’re going.”
Cody Drover scored twice and Marco Azzano once for the Gee-Gees, a Canadian college program.
Drover scored 1:03 into the game, redirecting a feed over Jones’ shoulder.
Hults tied the game, after being left alone in the right circle and taking a pretty cross-ice feed from Smirnov to fire at a wide-open right side of the net.
“It’s good to have it finally pay off,” said Hults, who also had an assist. “I think I’ve shot probably over a thousand one-timers (in fall practices).”
Drover scored again three minutes later, and Azzano lifted a shot over Funkey early in the third for a two-goal lead.
Two Ottawa penalties called with just over seven minutes left delivered the 5-on-3 opportunity.
Smirnov pounced nine seconds in with a blast to ignite the crowd, then Biro had an easy tap-in 1:35 later, set up by a Nate Sucese pass across the crease.
Nittany Lion highs and lows
Penn State had plenty of chances to work on its power-play units, getting a man-advantage seven times and scoring all three goals while a man up.
“I think it was about time our power play started clicking,” Biro said. “We had a lot of opportunities all night. I think that was one thing we did well: We stayed out of the box, moved our feet and forced them to take some penalties.”
However, the team was not always crisp. They did not always do well on faceoffs while a man up, and some passes were off the mark, leading to turnovers and breaks the other way.
“That’s kind of a staple of our team — using our speed, transitioning quickly,” Biro said. “Turnovers are something we have to take a look at, playing a little smarter with the puck.”
The team was only whistled for two infractions, with one resulting in a goal.
The freshmen showed their jitters as well, though Hults seemed the most comfortable Sunday, stepping into a defensive pairing with Erik Autio.
“I thought we got a lot out of it for an exhibition game and got some good information,” coach Guy Gadowsky said. “It will make this week a lot more well-defined, and from our standpoint that’s a good thing.”
Peyton Jones took care of the first two periods and wasn’t too busy, allowing two goals on 11 shots. Chris Funkey made eight saves and gave up two, including the overtime score.
The starter in the Gee-Gees’ net had a very familiar name: Anthony Brodeur — the son of the former New Jersey Devil great Martin Brodeur. He made 22 saves before leaving midway through the second period.
“It’s pretty cool to see that name, for sure,” said Biro, who also faced the younger Brodeur in juniors.
Penn State opens the regular season with a trip to New York’s “North Country” playing at Clarkson on Friday and St. Lawrence on Saturday.