It turns out the Penn State men’s ice hockey team has some goal-scorers.
With a quick turnaround after they struggled to find the net in their season opener, the Nittany Lions’ offense erupted.
Taylor Holstrom had two goals and an assist and the Nittany Lions ripped off five second-period goals in a 7-1 win over Connecticut on Saturday afternoon.
Playing just over 17 hours after their first meeting against UConn on Friday night, the Nittany Lions matched the program record for goals in a game, a 7-0 win over Carnegie Tech in 1941. In the third season since becoming a Division I program, it marked a program high.
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David Goodwin added a goal and two assists, Casey Bailey posted one goal and one assist and David Glen, Eric Scheid and Jonathan Milley each netted a goal.
Matthew Skoff made 28 saves for the win.
Starring Saturday afternoon was the line of Holstrom, Bailey and Goodwin, who combined for four goals and five assists.
“We’re just working hard,” Holstrom said. “Good things are happening because of it.”
Coach Guy Gadowsky credited the “hockey gods” for rewarding Holstrom’s defensive work in Friday’s 2-2 tie with the offensive production Saturday.
“His commitment to the defensive side of the puck was so good (Friday), he was awesome,” Gadowsky said. “It’s often when you have someone that is that committed to the team goals, with things that don’t show up on the scoresheet, often they get rewarded. It was great to see him, and his line, have a tremendous game.”
The team was inspired early after they got into a hole, with two penalties to get into a 5 on 3 situation, the second of which was a five-minute major and game misconduct on defenseman Connor Varley for a hit from behind. UConn ripped off eight shots on goal during the stretch, and Skoff stopped them all.
“He was just awesome,” Gadowsky said. “It could have been 3-0 easily. Instead we get out of it 0-0, and I believe from that point on we outshot them 40-17. The team certainly responded to his effort.”
It left the team motivated.
“That kind of changed the game for us,” Bailey said. “Getting that right off the start, big blocks from a lot of players and Skoff stood on his head there in the first 10 minutes.”
The first Nittany Lion score came four minutes after the final second of the major penalty ticked off.
Curtis Loik started the play by causing a Husky turnover in the corner. Glen picked up the puck and got the puck back to Loik for a shot, and Glen knocked home the rebound.
Scheid made it 2-0 43 seconds into the second period when Jonathan Milley centered the puck out to Scheid in the slot. He had time to settle the puck, take a shot, then pounced on the rebound to knock it past goalie Rob Nichols.
Holstrom then scored the first of his two goals while the Nittany Lions were killing a penalty, taking a feed from Dylan Richard and racing up the ice, lofting the puck over Nichols’ shoulder.
“Richard drove the net and kind of pushed all the (defense) back, took away the goalie’s eyes,” Holstrom said. “I just kind of shot behind him and the goalie didn’t see a thing.”
UConn got on the board less than two minutes later when Spencer Naas beat Skoff on a rebound, and Skoff showed his displeasure after giving up his only mistake of the day.
Penn State then started to hit the net rapid-fire, first with Holstrom firing the puck from the high slot and ringing the shot off the post and in. The senior then set up Goodwin just 26 seconds later, although Goodwin was trying to get Holstrom the hat trick.
“We just had some good passing up and down the ice,” Goodwin said. “(Bailey) and I on the bench before that were talking that we needed to get Holstrom the hat trick. (I) tried to throw it there and it went off another skate, so I guess I got a little lucky.”
Bailey closed the scoring by launching a rocket from the slot with 3:33 left.
The Nitany Lions dominated with their offense, but Gadowsky thought the game’s best player was at the other end of the ice.
“It’s not often that your goaltender would be considered player of the game in a 7-1 game,” he said. “I actually believe he was the main reason because it wasn’t only the kill. UConn made three tremendous plays that should have been goals. Skoffer came up with three game-savers.”
Notes: Penn State heads off on its longest road trip of the season next weekend – to the Brice Gold Rush against Alaska Anchorage and Alaska in Fairbanks. … The lineups changed a little for the second game of the season. Freshmen Erik Autio and Scott Conway sat, along with Ricky DeRosa, while freshman James Robinson made his first appearance along with Max Gardiner and Mike Williamson. … After drawing just one penalty on Friday, Penn State was whistled for six infractions for 23 minutes Saturday, including Varley being bounced from the game just 4:23 into the action. … The Lions were 1 for 4 on the power play.