The Penn State men’s hockey team made the most of its first NCAA tournament appearance.
And the Nittany Lions put on a show with the style of play that got them here.
Penn State barreled over Union, a veteran of NCAA appearances, 10-3 Saturday evening in the Midwest Regional first round at U.S. Bank Arena.
Chase Berger and Nate Sucese led the charge with two goals and one assist each in the scoring barrage. Kris Myllari had a goal and two assists, and Brandon Biro, Dylan Richard, Denis Smirnov, Nikita Pavlychev and Vince Pedrie had the other scores in the highest-scoring NCAA tournament game since Lake Superior State netted 10 in 1990.
The win sets up a date with the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed in Denver in the regional final at 6 p.m. Sunday for a spot in the Frozen Four in Chicago on April 6 and 8.
The Pioneers scored four goals in the first 16 minutes and blazed past Michigan Tech 5-2 in the first game of the day.
Peyton Jones made 21 saves during the win for the Big Ten champs (25-11-2).
Spencer Foo scored twice and Brendan Taylor had the other goal for the Dutchmen (25-10-3), who won the 2014 title and were making their fifth NCAA appearance in eight seasons.
A turnover led to the first goal in Penn State’s postseason history, with Berger picking the pocket of a Dutchman and firing the puck toward the net, with Biro redirecting it in. Union had a response just 1:07 later, however, with Taylor corralling the puck as Jones slid back into position from behind the net, and the Dutchman sophomore spun and fired the puck in.
Again Penn State took a lead later in the first, and again Union had an answer. Berger had a deflection off a Biro shot, but Foo netted his first 24 seconds later.
Myllari put the Lions up again 1:59 into the second, launching a rocket from the blue line through a maze of bodies. And again Foo had an answer, though it took a few minutes this time. On a power play, the Union special teamers put on a brilliant passing display finished by the junior Hobey Baker Award candidate just 17 seconds into the man advantage.
Then the Penn State offense got rolling, first with Berger scoring his second, redirecting Blake Gober’s shot from the boards, then Richard pounced on a rebound.
Sucese made it 6-3 70 seconds into the third, knocking in a rebound of David Goodwin’s initial try. Then Smirnov delivered one to the top corner on a break to bring a goalie change, Pavlychev converted on a power play to add to the blowout, Pedrie knocked one in, and Sucese closed the scoring in the five-goal third period.