Pat White goPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State men's ice hockey team split an exhibition series with ACHA opponent Arizona State over the weekend in Greenberg Ice Pavilion. The series was a tale of two games, with the Nittany Lions finished with a strong offensive outburst in Friday's 8-3 win, but Saturday's 3-1 loss was just the opposite.
Arizona State came out flying and caught the Lions playing on their heels. Dan Styrna gave the Sun Devils a 1-0 lead eight minutes into the game, but Penn State would respond when freshman defender Luke Juha (Mississauga, Ontario) scored on the power play to knot the game at one.
Both teams played sloppy in the second period, but Penn State was able to muster enough offense to take the lead, and they didn't look back.
Sophomore Tommy Olczyk (Long Grove, Pa.) started the offensive flurry when he found a loose puck in the slot and put it past Arizona State goaltender Joe D'Elia. Two minutes later, senior Michael Longo (Allison Park, Pa.) put home a rebound to give the Nittany Lions a 3-1 lead and David Glen (Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta) scored on a wrist shot from the slot to cap off a four-goal offensive surge in a little over five minutes.
Glen finished the game with a hat trick, including two power play goals. He attributed his success to his line mates who put him in positions to make plays.
"I caught a couple lucky breaks," Glen said. "Credit to my line mates who made it easy for me out there. They make great plays and I was lucky enough to make it go in the back of the net, tonight."
All but three Nittany Lions recorded a point in the game and Longo had his best performance of the season, playing physically and making the small plays. He was rewarded for his hard work with a two goal night.
Like Glen, Longo humbly credited his line mates for his success.
"I think my line mates were playing really well," Longo said. "We were getting pucks on net. As a team we were getting more pucks on net than usual and creating more rebounds and more chances."
After a game in which the Nittany Lions took only one penalty and the power play capitalized on all three of its opportunities, it was almost like a different Penn State team took the ice on Saturday night.
Penn State came out strong in the beginning of the first period with sustained offensive pressure and a good cycle down low in the series finale. Penn State had a five-on-three power play, but the Blue and White were unable to continue their success on the man advantage from the previous night.
After a scoreless opening frame, Arizona State's Faiz Khan gave the Sun Devils the 1-0 lead just 38 seconds into the second period. The Sun Devils dominated the second period, mostly in part to a neutral zone trap that made it difficult for Penn State to break out of their own zone.
"They did a really good job [with the trap]," Juha said. "We didn't have enough speed coming through the neutral zone, and they were catching us. We couldn't build much momentum because of it."
Freshman Curtis Loik (North Vancover, British Columbia) scored the lone Nittany Lion goal, a shorthanded strike on a nice pass from Olczyk. Penn State could not sustain the momentum from the goal, and dropped a 3-1 decision to Arizona State.
"We played on our heels for the first two periods," Loik said. "We didn't have any momentum and I think that was a bit of our preparation from the beginning."
Gadowky fears his team didn't have the desire coming into this weekend that they did heading into their matchup last weekend with nationally-ranked Union. He said after a great showing against the Dutchmen last weekend the team needs to learn to bring the same intensity against every opponent.
"In sports it's tough to turn on the switch and turn off the switch," Gadowsky said. "We won't know if we've learned [that lesson] until we get in this situation again. Credit to Arizona State, they definitely wanted to be here and to take advantage of this opportunity. Desire is a big value in sports."
Penn State was not able to build upon any momentum throughout the second game and Arizona State made the most of the Penn State miscues. After taking an early lead, the Sun Devils didn't take it easy on the Lions.
"When a team that can feel that they're about to take advantage of a great opportunity, they become better, they become tougher," Gadowsky said. "It's difficult to turn that switch. Hopefully the desire will come at the start of game and we won't have to panic."
Loik echoed his coach's message about bringing desire to each contest.
"We shouldn't have a change in mentality," said Loik. "We came into Union and we fought hard. I thought we played really well and we should have brought that to this game. Any team we play, it has to be the same mentality and I think that if we brought what we had brought at Union (into Saturday's game), we would be coming out of here with a victory."
Penn State is also dealing with some injuries and will use this week to rest and get healthy before next weekend's matchup at Holy Cross.
"We need time [off]," Gadowsky said. "We have bumps and bruises. That's that an excuse, but where our mental state is right now...we're going to take a little time off."