It may have taken a little while, but once the Penn State offense got charged up, it was tough to stop.
The Nittany Lion men’s hockey team crushed Holy Cross 7-1 Sunday afternoon at Pegula Ice Arena, scoring five third-period goals including the first two in the career of freshman Scott Conway.
Conway also had two assists, while Casey Bailey, Curtis Loik, Eric Scheid, David Glen and Jacob Friedman added to the goal-scoring for the Nittany Lions (3-1-2), who posted the program’s first weekend sweep in the arena’s history.
“We can’t guarantee seven (goals),” coach Guy Gadowsky said, “but hopefully we can guarantee the same effort and focus to get to the net as we had tonight.”
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Matthew Skoff made 29 saves for the win as Penn State peppered the Crusaders for the second straight game with a 44-30 shot advantage. The Nittany Lions had a 94-60 shot margin on the weekend.
It’s the second time this season the Nittany Lions had seven goals in a game, matching the school record from a 7-1 win against Connecticut on Oct. 11.
Conway had been a high-scoring forward last season in the United States Hockey League, but had posted just one assist through the team’s first five games until Sunday.
“The first one’s always the hardest one,” Conway said. “(I was) just trying to put pucks to the net as much as I could during the past five games here and it finally went in.”
The Nittany Lions have scored 25 goals this season, and while most of them have needed plenty of work to get the puck in the net, many of Sunday’s scores were highlight-worthy conversions.
“They don’t write up how the goal is on the scoresheets,” Bailey said. “Pretty much just getting your name on there’s good. But I think having those pretty ones definitely gives you confidence.”
Penn State cracked the ice with 5:11 left in the second on a 3 on 2 rush up the middle, with Taylor Holstrom flipping the puck over to Bailey, who redirected it past goalie Matt Ginn, who had 34 saves.
Just over two minutes later the Nitttany Lions cashed in on a power play, with Conway centering the puck to Loik in the high slot for a one-timer.
“It was overall effort,” Loik said. “I had Conway and (Ricky) DeRosa there battling away, and (Erik) Autio and (Patrick Koudys) keeping the pucks in. It just got to Conway and he found me. Beauty pass.”
Early in the third period, Dylan Richard fed Conway along the boards and the freshman took off on a 2 on 1 break, feeding the puck across to Scheid for a 3-0 lead.
Just under 88 seconds later, the lead was at 4-0 when Loik fed the puck from the boards to Glen cutting down the middle, who shoveled the shot past Ginn.
With the teams playing 4 on 4, Jake Bolton spoiled the shutout bid with a blast from the circle, the only time the Crusaders beat Skoff.
Conway took the lead back to four with 6:45 left, ducking around a defenseman and slipping the puck past Ginn for that first career goal.
“That was actually a big-time goal,” Gadowsky said. “He’s got such quick hands and a real hunger to score.”
Friedman added to the scoring with a little over two minutes later, knocking home a rebound, giving the senior his first career score.
“It’s not often the bench goes nuts on a 5-1, 6-1 game,” Gadowsky said. “The bench was so pumped for him. He is such a tremendous teammate and such a tremendous person.”
Conway then finished the scoring with 1:37 left to complete his high-scoring day.
“The guys do a good job encouraging, stuff like that,” Conway said. “Every time you get off the ice, linemates (say), ‘Good job, good job.’ Just keep going. It all starts with a positive attitude.”
Notes: Penn State has a short week, returning to action Thursday and Friday for a two-game series with Bentley. … Penn State finished 2 for 7 on the power play, with nine shots, to follow a busy 1 for 8 Friday. … Also picking up assists were David Goodwin, Autio, Luke Juha, DeRosa and Scheid. … Holy Cross was 0 for 4 on the power play and 0 for 7 for the weekend. … The hit of the day belonged to Nate Jensen, who leveled Crusader Scott Pooley near mid-ice after the winger was skating with his head down in the second period. He had to be helped from the ice, but returned for the third period. ... The announced attendance was 5,988, although there were pockets of empty seats, and much of the top half of the student section was empty.