In the Penn State men’s hockey team’s home opener Thursday night, the newest edition of the Nittany Lions looks a lot like last year’s version.
No. 11 Penn State peppered 47 shots on goal and rolled up American International 7-5 at Pegula Ice Arena.
Brandon Biro had a goal and two assists while Chase Berger assisted on three scores. One goal and one assist each came from Andrew Sturtz, Denis Smirnov and Cole Hults. Sturtz’s tally was the 43rd of his career, while it was the first for freshman Hults. Smirnov hit the net for the fourth straight game to match the team record.
Trevor Hamilton, Liam Folkes and Kris Myllari also got in on the scoring.
“It is encouraging that you have seven different goal scorers,” coach Guy Gadowsky said. “We would like to get every line involved.”
Peyton Jones made 28 saves for Penn State (3-2) and also posted an assist on the score sheet.
Martin Mellberg, Dominik Florian, Kyle Stephen, Shawn McBride and Hugo Reinhardt had the goals for the Yellow Jackets (0-5-1).
Player of the Game
Berger sparked the offense early, setting up the first two scores and now has 40 career assists. He sprinted up the boards while the Nittany Lions were shorthanded before hitting Sturtz breaking through the slot for his prettiest helper of the night.
“Once I had the puck I saw Sturtzy in the middle,” Berger said. “He’s pretty much automatic on breakaways.”
Penn State found success on special teams, scoring twice on power plays to go with the shorthanded tally.
Hamilton had the first conversion with a man advantage, with the Lions hammering at the puck in the crease before the senior finally slipped it under AIC goalie Alex Murray.
Seconds into a second-period power play, Folkes scored his first of the season, picking up the puck from a faceoff win by Berger and using a little patience before firing his shot.
Hults netted his first collegiate score near the game’s midpoint, racing across from the boards to slip the puck under Murray.
Jones got a break started with a feed ahead to Smirnov, who had his try denied, but Biro pounced on a rebound, spun and fired in his goal.
In the first minute of the third, Smirnov netted his goal from his knees beside the net to add to his already extensive highlight reel.
In and out
Freshman Adam Pilewicz saw his first game action, starting at right wing on a line with with Smirnov and Biro. He was in the lineup after the Big Ten’s one-game suspension of sophomore Nate Sucese on Wednesday. The suspension also forced Biro to move to center for the first time in his college career.
The teams meet for the other half of their two-game series at 7 p.m. Friday.