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Penn State men's hockey completes sweep over St. Thomas in start-to-finish performance

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Foward Kevin Wall (21) on a breakaway

Foward Kevin Wall (21) during Penn State men's hockey game against Michigan at the Pegula Ice Center on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021 in University Park, Pa. The Nittany Lions lost to the Wolverines 5-1

November wasn’t the prettiest month for Penn State, but as the calendar readies to flip to December, things are beginning to look a little brighter for Guy Gadowsky’s squad.

After losing four straight games in series with Ohio State and Michigan, the Nittany Lions have finally started to get the ball rolling near the month’s end, capping off a series sweep against St. Thomas in a 4-1 victory.

It didn’t take long for the blue and white to flex its proverbial muscles on the Tommies.

Junior forward Kevin Wall kicked off the scoring for Penn State in the first four minutes of the contest after a quick four shots on target in that time by the Nittany Lions.

Though Penn State jumped out to a nearly instant 1-0 lead in the opening frame, the scoring came to a bit of a halt through much of the first.

However, that doesn’t mean that the blue and white didn’t continue to play its game.

The Nittany Lions skated with speed and aggression in period one, as they outshot St. Thomas 13-3 going into the first intermission.

It wouldn’t take that much time for the Tommies to respond, though, coming out with some early period magic of their own, scoring in the opening minutes of the second frame on only their fourth shot of the night.

Halfway through the second period, though, sophomore and junior forwards Tyler Pacquette and Connor MacEachern responded quickly, pouring in two goals in just over a minute to propel the Nittany Lions to a 3-1 lead heading into final intermission.

Penn State eventually sealed the deal in the final period on the back of a consistent defensive effort and a second goal from Wall, earning its first sweep since its Niagara matchup in late October.

Here are three takeaways from the second half of Penn State’s sweep over St. Thomas.

Defense makes life easy for Souliere

One of the more interesting storylines of the Nittany Lions 2021-22 campaign is focused on the ongoing competition at the goalie position.

Sophomore netminder Liam Souliere split starts once again with teammate Oskar Autio and once again, Souliere showed out in place of the senior.

Souliere finished the game with only one goal allowed, but it took much more than an individual effort to make that happen.

The defense was unwavering for the Nittany Lions, finishing the game only surrendering 13 shots on goal, but the precedent was set early, as Souliere only faced three shots through the opening period of play.

The sophomore finished with 12 saves with a .923 save percentage on the night.

Wall finds his rhythm

Looking primed to be Penn State’s leading scorer this season with seven goals after a month, Wall seemingly vanished as a goal scorer once conference play began.

Sneaking one in during the squads most recent Big Ten match up with Minnesota, Wall finally found his place one scoreboard after an unexpected drought.

Wednesday night, despite not scoring in the first game against the Tommies, the junior kept his scoring momentum alive with his ninth goal of the season in the opening minutes of the contest.

Wall eventually pushed that number to 10, scoring the icing goal for Penn State in the third period, his third multi-goal effort of the 2021-22 season.

MacEachern, who also found twine in the game, is definitely challenging Wall for the blue and white’s scoring crown — now boasting eight goals of his own on the season.

With plenty of season left to play for the Nittany Lions, it will be interesting to see just who will sit atop the statsheet by the year’s end.

Penalties bite Penn State again

Up until St. Thomas’ first goal of the night, Penn State had outshot the Tommies 14-3.

Despite a balanced effort from both the attack and the backline, ugly penalties proved once again that it only takes one small error to cost the blue and white on the scoreboard.

Wednesday marked the sixth straight contest that Penn State has surrendered a score from the opposing team’s man-advantage.

Though the penalty ultimately didn’t affect the final outcome of the game, silly mistakes have been a trend that may be getting a little old for Gadowsky.

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

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