After what could be classified as a tough defeat in the first matchup between Canisius and Penn State, the Nittany Lions piled it on the Golden Griffins in a 5-2 win on Saturday.
In a high-scoring game for the blue and white, it’s easy to accredit such a victory to Penn State’s relentless attack, who outshot Canisius 44-38 on the game.
However, the real star of Saturday’s rematch was sophomore goalie Liam Souliere, who, in his first action since the 2020-2021 season, put up 36 saves on the night.
Previously this year, Guy Gadowsky stated that there were two great keepers on roster for the Nittany Lions, while senior Oskar Autio was already locked into the starting-netminder position, there was some speculation on how much action Souliere would see.
Even though the Brampton, Ontario, native let up two goals in the game, both of which came in at the end of the game with Penn State already at a safe 3-0 lead in the third period — neither was completely his fault.
The first goal was a one-on-one opportunity after the Penn State back-line had been fighting the whole game, the next came from a deflection of Souliere’s own defensemen.
While it may not be completely clear as to why Gadowsky gave the sophomore the start over Autio, it’s clear that it paid off.
“I thought today was a good opportunity to [start Souliere],” said Gadowsky. “Not only did he play really good, he looked really good too.”
The team took notice of the underclassman’s performance today, with junior forward Connor MacEachern and sophomore defenseman Christian Berger sharing their thoughts on Souliere’s performance.
“In his first start, he was phenomenal,” MacEachern said.
One of the key moments of the game came when Penn State outlasted its fourth penalty of the night in the second segment, with Souliere making save after save as Canisius kept hammering the shots on goal.
“He made some big saves, especially in the second,” MacEachern said. “When we were [stuck] in there, he got us through it.”
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Coming off a disappointing 4-1 loss to Canisius, Penn State had an opportunity to rebound ag…
What makes Souliere’s first start more impressive is that he spearheaded a six-for-six effort on the penalty kill for the blue and white — all of which without senior defenseman Clayton Phillips, who is a big leader for this team on the defensive side.
In Phillips’ absence, the defense did what it had to do, and although it may have let up a few goals late in the third, Penn State’s attack had already established a winning margin.
Even after such an incredible display for Souliere, it is still unclear who holds the starting spot at the goalie position.
Luckily for Gadowsky, he will have some time before he has to make that decision, with Penn State’s next game not being until Oct. 21.
For now Penn State gots its chance to celebrate a win versus a Canisius team that did a little bit of post-game celebration of its own.
“[It felt] awesome.” MacEachern said.
Though it wasn’t personal, Berger said that the team had to come in with a different attitude than it had on Friday.
“We went through this really revved-up and ready to go,” Berger said. “We just want to play our game and work as hard as we can.”
After Canisius’ and Penn State’s first matchup the attitude for the team was to reflect and improve.
With a win Saturday, that sentiment still hasn’t wavered.
“We just have to get our exits under control and things will be much better off,” Gadowsky said.
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