Pat White goPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -Penn State will take some time off for the holidays after their one-goal loss to Robert Morris (7-4-2) over the weekend, but the Nittany Lions (7-8-0) will have some encouraging things to talk about over the holiday break.
Despite the loss to Robert Morris on Saturday, a 3-2 setback, the team took a step forward. The Lions generated 40 shots and kept a steady offensive flow throughout the game. It was a physical game that maintained a fast tempo in all three periods, which allowed head coach Guy Gadowsky to take a few positives away from the defeat.
"I was happy with the way we played," said Gadowsky. "[We're] not happy about the result, but we're happy with how we played. It's a matter of making sure we are learning how to put it all together."
One area that has been a struggle for the young Nittany Lion team is the power play. Penn State is just five for 60 with the man-advantage this season, but the unit continued to move in the right direction against Robert Morris.
Despite going zero-for-five against the Colonials, Penn State generated 11 shots on the power play, with eight in the third period. They moved the puck well and sustained good offensive pressure, including a couple of late scoring chances during a 4-on-3 man advantage, but could not find the back of the net.
Penn State played one of its better games in all three zones last Saturday. The offense was able to create opportunities, the defense played disciplined and tight and the neutral zone was clean, for the most part. Robert Morris scored the game-winner on a misplay in the neutral zone that led to a goal by Tyler Hinds with less than nine minutes to go in the game. Other than the one miscue, Penn State limited some of the mistakes they were making earlier in the season.
"I thought we had some flow and played better," Gadowsky said. "We also had tempo, in terms of not turning the puck over like we have three weeks previous. I think we had more flow...There was a lot that we can be optimistic about. We're a young team and we're going to get a lot better."
Penn State put forth a good effort against Robert Morris, and head into the holiday break on a positive note. The break comes at a good time, allowing the team to rest and heal some injuries before the Three Rivers Classic.
"We can use a break," Gadowsky said. "We had four pretty good forwards not playing tonight. It's very valuable for guys to go home and have a good Christmas with their families. I think they are very fortunate to get to do that and I want them to take advantage of it."
Sophomore forward Tommy Olczyk (Long Grove, Ill.) is excited for the break, but is looking forward to getting another opportunity against the Colonials at the Three River Classic.
"We get to play them right after break," Olczyk said. "We have two weeks until we get another shot at (Robert Morris). We showed that we can play at this level...and be a good team. There were times when we were outplaying them and we have to get ready to see this team again in two weeks."
One concern about the two week layoff is staying conditioned and in shape. Both Gadowsky and Olczyk agreed that player are going to have to have an accountability for maintaining their conditioning and staying in hockey form.
"(We) have to keep ourselves accountable," Olczyk said. "We can't call and check up on (each other) and make sure everyone staying in shape. At this level of hockey, you have to be accountable to do it yourself. If you can get on the ice, that's great, but if not, you have to find a bike, a treadmill or something."
Penn State will play Robert Morris on Dec. 28 in the first game of the Three Rivers Classic, which also includes Ohio State and Miami (Ohio), at the CONSOL Energy Center.