Penn State Ice Hockey vs. Arizona State

Penn State players huddle around each other after a goal during an ice hockey game between Penn State University against Arizona State University at Pegula Ice Arena on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020. Penn State wins 5-4.

Coming off a disappointing 4-1 loss to Canisius, Penn State had an opportunity to rebound against the Golden Griffins on Saturday.

The Nittany Lions did just that, topping Canisius with a 5-2 victory of their own.

The game quickly turned to the Nittany Lions’ favor early, as Penn State took an early 1-0 lead in the first period, with Connor MacEachern capitalizing off the Griffins’ mistakes on the counter attack.

Though the blue and white’s strategy is known for its high volume of shots and speed, Penn State took only ten shots in the first, leading with efficiency and solid team defense.

However, Guy Gadowsky had his squad playing the game to its own identity after the first period, ramping up the shots up to 29 after two periods.

Penn State would go on to finish the job in the final period, outshooting Canisius 44-38.

Here are three takeaways from Penn State’s win over Canisius.

Starting out strong in each period

After struggling to score for almost the entirety of Friday’s game, Penn State found itself in the driver’s seat early in the second game of the series.

The blue and white came on the attack with freshman forward Carson Dyck feeding fellow-freshman Danny Dzhaniyev for the opening goal.

In stark contrast from the first contest between these two programs, it was Canisius that led in shots 7-2 halfway through the first period. On the other hand, Penn State played with efficiency and focused on protecting its own net.

The focus for Gadowsky was to improve the quality of shots his guys were taking, through the first period, they did just that.

It wasn’t until the end of the first period when started ramping up the shots, eventually coming to a 12-10 margin against the Golden Griffins in attempts.

Penn State would score just as quickly in the second period, thanks to MacEachern putting the puck away on a four-on-four to start the period, extending Penn State’s lead 2-0.

In the same fashion as the rest of the game, the sophomore Christian Sarlo scored another goal just five minutes into the third period — the Nittany Lions third time doing so in the game.

Souliere steps up

A surprise to some in Saturday’s rematch was the addition of sophomore goalie Liam Souliere into the starting lineup.

Even with Gadowsky saying that senior Oskar Autio played well after Penn State’s 4-1 loss, for whatever reason, it was time for a change in net.

That change, ultimately, was a success for the Nittany Lions, with the Souliere being a rock between the pipes.

The sophomore netminder made plenty of saves on the first attempt and didn’t give the Golden Griffins many chances to follow up.

In the game, Souliere made 36 saves, not giving up a goal until he surrendered two at the end of third period — neither of which being completely on Souliere.

The netminder only let in goals off of a one-on-one and wild ricochet off of his own defenseman.

While there is no telling what this performance means in the long run for the starting goalie position, it’s possible Happy Valley could be seeing a lot more of Souliere.

No Clayton Phillips, no problem

Arguably the most impressive part of Penn State’s victory on Saturday was the effort that the defense played with, especially as Canisius got more desperate with its shots.

Ahead of the game, Gadowsky said that senior defenseman Clayton Phillips would stay on the sideline.

Normally, losing a fifth-year senior on a defense that just surrendered four goals the night before, is a recipe for disaster — that was not the case Saturday.

Though the defense may have not played perfectly, they bent but never broke, gutting out five penalty kills in heroic fashion and only sacrificing two goals late on the day.

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Nate Lather is a men's hockey reporter at The Daily Collegian. He is a sophomore majoring in journalism.