Men's Hockey v. Michigan, Peyton Jones (31)

Goalie Peyton Jones (31) watches the puck go wide of the net during a game against Minnesota at Pegula Ice Arena on Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. Penn State won the game 7-2.

In Penn State’s first game action this season, it was the goaltenders — not the Nittany Lions’ high-flying offense — that made the biggest impact.

Penn State faced off against Ottawa on Sunday, winning the exhibition contest 5-0. It is the Nittany Lions’ first shutout in any game since December 2017 when they blanked Ohio State.

Both Peyton Jones and Oskar Autio spent roughly 30 minutes minding the net on Sunday, shutting the door on each Gee-Gee attack. The two combined for 25 saves, most of which came in the second and third periods.

“I thought both played very well,” coach Guy Gadowsky said. “I think it’s important that both goaltenders get time because you never know when you’re going to need one.”

Jones got the start for Penn State and made a few crucial saves early on in the matchup. The senior stopped 14 shots on his way to earning the victory.

“I thought the score wasn’t quite indicative of the game,” Gadowsky said. “I think Peyton had to make a few huge saves.”

Autio entered in relief of Jones and stopped 11 pucks in the final 30 minutes of play. The sophomore played in only three regular season contests in 2018-19, allowing seven goals in just over 120 minutes of action.

Men's hockey vs. Ottawa, Autio (35)

Oskar Autio (35) tries to make a save on a puck that goes wide during the men’s hockey game against the University of Ottawa at the Pegula Ice Arena on Oct. 6, 2019. The Nittany Lions defeated the Gee-Gees, 5-0.

Gadowsky said he’s seen Autio mature quite a bit since the last campaign, which he believes is a result of his stronger work ethic.

“The practices that he’s had earlier this year have been a little more intense then when he just knew that he wasn’t going to play last year,” Gadowsky said. “His practice habits and intensity on the ice right now has elevated, and that’s really good to see.”

Altogether, the goaltending didn’t go unnoticed by the other Nittany Lions.

“We saw our goalies made some big saves tonight,” captain Brandon Biro said.

The win in the exhibition matchup helps prepare Penn State for its regular season opener against Sacred Heart on Friday. The Nittany Lions will look to carry the momentum from the victory into next weekend and beyond, according to Biro.

“I’m sure the goalies got some good confidence out of this one,” Biro said postgame. “Being better defensively is something we’re taking a huge focus on this year, and to come out and get a shutout in the first game and work out some of the kinks is something that’s going to give us a lot of confidence going forward.”

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