By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No.17 Penn State men's hockey battled in game one of the series, but in the end it was No. 2 ranked Notre Dame emerging victorious. Although the Nittany Lions ultimately lost the outing, they showed promising signs of improvement down the stretch.
"Other than the result, it was a great night," Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "Excellent team, phenomenal atmosphere and I just feel really bad that we couldn't pull this one out."
The Nittany Lions started out strong, with the first line working together to put three pucks in the back of the net. Junior assistant captain Chase Berger scored two goals, one in both the first and second periods, both assisted by junior Andrew Sturtz.
Continuing to experiment with line changes, junior Alec Marsh joined the first line on the left wing. It was Marsh who was able to score the first goal of the game, assisted by Berger and Sturtz, to get the momentum flowing and the crowd going.
"I really like the mentality that [Marsh] has had since Christmas," Gadowsky said. "He came back and you can see it in practice, there's a couple things he has to do to be effective and he [has done those things]."
During pregame warmups, Marsh was one of the first Nittany Lions on the ice and one of the last off. The New Jersey native aggressively skated for the duration of the game, won pucks and got back to help on defense. Not only has the coaching staff noticed Marsh's efforts, but also his fellow teammates.
"Marsh is great," Berger said. "He's really hard on the forecheck and I think Andrew [Sturtz] and I both love when he keeps his feet moving, gets the puck behind the defense and keeps it simple."
Not only did the first line's success show on the scoreboard, but also in the faceoff circle with Berger and Sturtz combining for 15 wins on the draw. Sturtz led the way earning an impressive 6-2 mark on the night with both of the faceoffs he took in the first period resulting in goals.
Gadowsky pointed out while it isn't completely out of the ordinary to have a forward like Sturtz take a faceoff like he has done before, it was also a strategic move.
"I've had some success against Jake Evans in the faceoff circle in Notre Dame," Sturtz said. "We were going out for the draw and [Berger] said let's try a switch and it worked right off the bat there."
Penn State now preps for a quick turnaround, set to host Notre Dame in game two of the series in a late afternoon matchup with the focus on playing a full 60 minutes against a consistent team.
"What matters is we have a tremendous opportunity tomorrow," Gadowsky said. "We have to forget this quickly and just prepare to play our best game more consistently."