Freshman Denis Smirnov’s second consecutive three-point game helped Penn State extend its win streak as it beat Niagara 5-1 on Friday at Pegula Ice Arena.
The Nittany Lions (7-1-1) completed the weekend sweep of Niagara (0-7- 2) to remain unbeaten in their past seven games.
“We are developing that type of attitude where we can put teams away,” Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky said.
Penalties plagued Penn State and prevented the team from generating any pressure in the offensive zone. Junior James Robinson received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for contact to the head at the 16:27 mark. Niagara opened the scoring on its second power play late in the first to take a 1-0 lead.
The Nittany Lions cashed in on a power play goal of their own with a minute remaining in the first period as sophomore Andrew Sturtz hammered home a rebound from Smirnov and junior Erik Autio. The score remained tied at one at the first intermission.
Penn State took its first lead of the game at the 9:47 mark of the second period as sophomore Vince Pedrie scored on a pass from Smirnov. Penn State, which outshot Niagara 51-21 for the game, took a 2-1 lead into the second intermission. Sturtz scored his second goal of the night just 32 seconds into the third period to make it 3-1. After a brief passing sequence, Sturtz crashed the net and deflected in a low pass from freshman Nate Sucese.
“He’s had a great weekend for us,” Gadowsky said. “It was nice to get an early goal in that position because there is a huge difference between a one and two goal game.”
Senior Zach Saar extended Penn State’s lead with a power play goal in which he dangled around a Niagara defender and slotted the puck underneath the blocker of Niagara goalie Joe O’Brien. Senior captain David Goodwin joined in on the scoring festivities at the 14:04 mark. Goodwin and linemate Smirnov created a two-on-one scoring opportunity after a Niagara turnover. Smirnov saucered a pass over a defender’s stick to Goodwin, who was then able to beat the Niagara goalie. Goodwin is one point away from 100 for his career as a Nittany Lion.
“It’s something other people point out to me more than I think of myself,” Goodwin said. “I’ve been fortunate to play alongside some great teammates.”
The Nittany Lions will face off against Alaska Anchorage at home on Nov. 11 and 12.
Matt Castle is a Penn State journalism student.