The Penn State men’s hockey team’s ventures to Pittsburgh have not been the most fruitful in the program’s five-plus seasons.
Friday night proved to be a much more enjoyable experience, as the Nittany Lions skated to a 5-2 victory over Robert Morris at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.
Five different Nittany Lions scored, James Gobetz had a goal and an assist, and Andrew Sturtz continued to be an offensive catalyst with a pair of assists.
It was just the third win in seven meetings between the teams for Penn State, and the fourth victory in nine games played in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ home, as the Nittany Lions try to claim supremacy of Pennsylvania hockey.
“We both have a lot of pride in our programs,” coach Guy Gadowsky told the media in Pittsburgh. “We’re from Pennsylvania, we’re not that far apart, and we want bragging rights. That’s why this is important.”
After a sluggish start to the season, the Nittany Lions (10-7-2) are 5-0-2 in their last seven games, outscoring opponents 34-13 over that stretch.
“It’s fun when we’re playing our game,” Gobetz said. “It’s fun to be out there with all the guys work so hard. We maybe had a slow start, not getting the bounces, but these last few weeks have been awesome.”
Player of the Game
Gobetz had just had one goal and six assists in his career entering the night, with his only other goal scored against Denver in the NCAA regional finals last March. He scored his goal late in the second period on a rebound. Sturtz barreled in toward the net but had the puck poked away by Colonials goalie Francis Marotte before the junior could get off a shot, but the puck bounced right to the sophomore defenseman for the tally.
“Playing with him last year,” Gobetz said of Sturtz, “he’s going to try to cut in, he’s going to try and stuff it, he’s not going to pull up. He’s taking it to the net. I kind of knew that. I just followed it up. ... It’s nice for him to do all the work and I get the reward.”
Sturtz also assisted on Berger’s goal, giving him a team-leading 14 helpers on the season.
Also finding the net were Nate Sucese and Sam Sternschein in the second period, and Chase Berger and Denis Smirnov in the third.
Michael Lauria put the Colonials in the lead in the first, and Brady Ferguson had the other goal.
Defending the net
Penn State’s Peyton Jones made 28 saves, giving way in the final three minutes of the third to Matt Ehrlichman, a Bedford native and Penn State senior seeing the ice for the first time in his varsity career.
The teams complete the home-and-home series at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at Pegula Ice Arena. It will be the final Penn State game before winter break. The team will not play again until Jan. 5.