The move looked easy.
Andrew Sturtz swatted the puck out of the air as it floated toward him on the blue line. The sophomore then chased after it to start a breakaway.
It led to a goal, one of the highlights of the night, as the Penn State men’s hockey team finished a weekend sweep of Canisius on Saturday night at Pegula Ice Arena. The No. 19 Nittany Lions dropped the Golden Griffins 4-2 to improve their unbeaten streak to five games.
“Any time that you come away with a sweep, it’s a great weekend,” coach Guy Gadowsky said. “There’s no such thing as a mediocre sweep. There were a lot of things we did really well.”
Kevin Kerr, Denis Smirnov and Chase Berger also scored for Penn State (5-1-1). Jesse Pereira had both goals for the Griffins (2-5-1).
Peyton Jones made 19 saves for the win, while counterpart Charles Williams stopped 43 shots.
Sturtz’s goal was started by Jones, clearing the puck on a Canisius power play from behind the net. The puck flew along the glass but was deflected by a Griffin player to keep it in the zone, and the puck fluttered above the blue line. Sturtz reached out with his stick and swatted it toward center ice and raced ahead of everyone, beating Williams low to put the Lions in the lead and score his team-leading fifth goal of the season.
“I saw it in the air, batted it down, through the defender’s legs and found myself on a breakaway,” Sturtz said. “The rest was a little lucky, I guess.”
The ability to swat at the flying puck was anything but luck.
“That’s hard, but that’s actually credit to (former Lion) Curtis Loik,” Sturtz said. “Me and him worked on that all spring, right after the season. We’d go out on the ice and spend 20, 30 minutes just batting pucks out of the air. We think it’s a big skill that guys at the next level are really good at.”
Pereira started the scoring just 3:47 into the game, beating Jones from the faceoff circle with a wrist shot.
Kerr tied it midway through the first, taking a feed from Nikita Pavlychev and rifling a shot to the top corner of the net from the high slot.
“(Pavlychev) pulled my defender with him a little bit, then he just threw it right back up the wall,” Kerr said. “I turned around, had a little bit of space in front of me.”
After Sturtz put the Lions ahead, Smirnov banked in his goal in the second. Initially it wasn’t called by the officials, but a review gave the freshman his third goal of the season.
Pereira scored his second on a shorthanded breakaway of his own off a Penn State turnover.
The Griffins thought they tied the game about six minutes into the third when Dylan McLaughlin slipped the puck under Jones, but they were ruled offsides after a video review to wipe out the goal. Gadowsky gave credit to captain David Goodwin, who was sitting right on the blue line on the bench and noticed the infraction, prompting the coach’s challenge.
“He saw it, he made the call,” Gadowsky said. “Love to take credit for that but I can’t.”
The disallowed goal proved to be a turning point, with the Lions dominating play after that.
“(Goodwin is) saving us at all times,” Sturtz said. “Could have been a tie game at that point.”
Berger made it a two-goal lead again a few minutes later, slipping in an easy score off a pretty feed from Goodwin as the senior skated in front of the crease.
Notes: Penn State remains home next weekend, hosting Niagara on Thursday and Friday. … Penn State finished 1 for 9 on the power play. Canisius was just 0 for 1. … The Griffins were whistled for eight penalties for the game and 15 infractions for 41 minutes for the weekend. … The Lions finished with a 47-21 shot advantage.