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By Maria Canales,
GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Teddy bears flew through the air during the second intermission of No. 7 Penn State's (13-1-1, 2-0-0-0 Big Ten) Friday night victory against No. 20 Michigan (6-7-1, 0-2-0-0 Big Ten).
It was Penn State's THON game and hundreds of plush animals of all kinds were thrown on the ice, as part of the teddy bear toss tradition. Bears, turtles, rabbits, and stuffed elephants landed on the smooth surface after the fans in attendance were encouraged to throw them over the boards.
That same intermission, the Nittany Lions headed into the locker room up 3-1. Goals from junior forward James Robinson, junior defenseman Trevor Hamilton, and freshman forward Denis Smirnov in the first period, gave Penn State the edge.
"The Denis Smirnov goal, a great block by Dylan Richard, and then an unbelievable pass by Derian Hamilton to send to [Smirnov] on the breakaway," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "That was a big, big goal and a big difference heading into the locker room up two instead of one."
The Nittany Lions defeated the Wolverines, 5-1. Sophomore forward Andrew Sturtz and freshman forward Brandon Biro rounded out the goals for the Nittany Lions.
"We've got to go and get even hungrier," sophomore defenseman Kevin Kerr said. "We have a couple weeks off here so we'll practice hard and get prepared for the second half of the season."
The Nittany Lions don't play again until the New Year, when they travel to Ohio State January 6 and 7, 2017.
After the game, to continue with the THON game festivities, senior defenseman David Thompson cut his long hair to donate it to help make a wig for a child with cancer. The event, which many fans stuck around after the victory to witness, took only seconds, but the impact of such a donation will last a lifetime.
Thompson's hair was tied into a ponytail with zip ties and cut with scissors, before Thompson got the rest of his hair buzzed off in the locker room.
The Nittany Lions' THON child, Colton Buckley, was also in attendance for Friday night's festivities. Prior to Thompson's haircut, the Buckley's announced they donated $2,000 to THON, in the name of the Penn State Student Athlete Advisory Board.
Thompson said before he lost his locks, that it was an honor to donate his hair in the name of THON, and felt truly humbled by the experience.
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions were buzzing Thursday night, as a strong and balanced offensive performance propelled No. 7 Penn State men's hockey (12-1-1) past No. 20 Michigan (6-6-1) in Pegula Ice Arena, 6-1.
As is seemingly tradition between the two teams, Penn State came out of another high-scoring outing with the win, helped out by goals from five different scorers, with a total of 11 Nittany Lions notching at least a point.
A goal from sophomore forward Andrew Sturtz halfway through the first period got Penn State rolling. A back-and-forth remainder of the first period saw both teams have quality chances on net, with freshman Peyton Jones in net stopping eight shots in the first 20 minutes of play.
There was pandemonium in the rink during the second period, when freshman forward Liam Folkes found the back of the net for the second time this season, signaling the song "Timber," that began blaring through the Pegula sound system in celebration.
Junior defenseman Trevor Hamilton followed up with a power-play goal toward the end of the second period, assisted by senior forward David Goodwin and sophomore forward Chase Berger. It was Hamilton's second goal of the season.
Hamilton's physicality on the ice was also a noticeable contribution, as he made several clean hits throughout the game and didn't shy away from blocking shots. The team's ability to play physically will continue to be important, as Big Ten opponents often are more aggressive on the ice than the competition faced in nonconference play.
Senior forward Ricky DeRosa scored late in the second period, bringing Penn State's lead to 4-0. Senior forward Zach Saar got the assist.
"If you look at the first four goals I think they came from all four different lines. I think Trevor's was just at the end of the power play but that was with Goodwin and Berger, so really you could say all four lines contributed on all four goals," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "When we can do that I think we're pretty tough to play against."
The third period saw another goal from Sturtz, followed later by a goal from junior defenseman Erik Autio.
There seemed to be a little more energy in the air throughout the night, likely due to to the fact that it was Penn State's first Big Ten Conference game of the season. The Roar Zone, which made the night a white out, was a full house from the drop of the puck.
The Roar Zone president, Chris Godissart, explained that the decision to make Thursday night's game a white out was an easy choice.
"We chose to make tonight a student whiteout because it felt like the perfect game to do so," Godissart said. "It's the last series of the semester, against Michigan who beat us five times last year. We wanted to do everything we could to pump up the team and be as loud as we could be at puck drop."
Gadowsky and the team noticed the heightened support from the Roar Zone throughout the night, with DeRosa noting how important it is to have the backing of a great student section, especially when facing down a conference foe.
"They're amazing, they're the best student section in college hockey," DeRosa said. "You skate out on the ice and you see a sea of white with the band going, that's why you play, that's why so many guys choose Penn State."
Both teams are back at it again Friday night at 7 p.m. in Pegula Ice Arena.
By Maria Canales,
GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The last time Penn State men's hockey (11-1-1) and Michigan (6-5-1) faced off was in the second round of last years' Big Ten Tournament. While the Wolverines came out victorious, the Nittany Lions were just getting started.
This season, Penn State hockey has started strong during non-conference play, racking up 11 wins out of 13 games so far. The Wolverines, who have faced teams like Union and Boston University during their non-conference schedule, have amassed six wins.
This weekend, the Nittany Lions are set to host Michigan at Pegula Ice Arena, and it will be U-M's first visit to Hockey Valley since last January.
"They are Michigan, but they're different," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "Last year their offense was just unbelievably explosive and they're still Michigan so they still can be."
Gadowsky emphasized that so far this season Michigan has had the top penalty kill unit in the nation, which makes the Wolverines a daunting opponent. He also pointed out that even though their offense might not have the same strength as it did last season, Michigan's defense has stepped it's game up, which will provide a challenge for his team.
The Wolverine offensive prowess took a hit as the famed "CCM" line of Kyle Connor, JT Compher, and Tyler Motte all signed pro contracts at the end of last season.
"I'm not sure I saw a line like that in college, they were phenomenal," Gadowsky said. "They're all having success at the NHL level."
But with their top line gone, Gadowsky said Michigan is the type of team that will simply reload, and he expects the Wolverines to be a challenging opponent this weekend.
The Michigan series follows a bye week, which coincided with Thanksgiving Break. Some Nittany Lions traveled home for the holiday, while others visited teammate's homes to spend the holiday with familiar faces. However, practice picked up once again Sunday afternoon. Now the Nittany Lions are eager to make a statement after being knocked out of last years' Big Ten tournament.
"I don't think anyone on our team will or should have any difficulty preparing for Thursday," senior forward and captain David Goodwin said. "We'll be ready to go at the drop of the puck."
While the Nittany Lions were 0-5 against the Wolverines last year, the team believes new faces like Denis Smirnov and Trevor Hamilton can help turn the tide.
Smirnov has scored nine goals, good for second on the team, as well as 13 assists. Hamilton has played in all 13 games this season, and in addition to his lone goal so far, has contributed 12 assists. Hamilton has also shown his physicality on the ice, not shying away from clean hits.
A strong point for the Nittany Lions so far this season has been goaltending. Both freshman Peyton Jones and sophomore Chris Funkey have had success between the pipes. Peyton has earned a .912 save percentage and nine wins so far this season, while Funkey has a .966 save percentage and two wins under his belt.
"That was such a big question mark for us," Gadowsky said. "We didn't have one guy who has started an NCAA game [prior to this season]. Both have been tremendous."
In regards to goaltending, Gadowsky explained that if it's not broken, they're not going to fix it. He added that Jones will start in net for the Nittany Lions on Thursday.
Thompson's THON contribution
Following Friday's THON game, senior defenseman David Thompson will be cutting his hair at the Gate A entrance to Pegula Ice Arena. His hair is to be donated, in a similar way to the students who cut their hair on the stage during THON weekend.
Thompson, who knew of the tradition where students cut their hair at the 100 Days Until THON event, was inspired to contribute in some fashion. After speaking with THON coordinators and Penn State Athletics' compliance office, Thompson was given the green light to make his own donation.
Thompson said that since the announcement on the Penn State men's hockey Twitter (@PennStateMHKY) that he would be cutting his hair, he has received an overwhelming amount of support from the Hockey Valley community. The defenseman said that other people who have donated their hair have approached him and told him how much this kind of donation means to children with cancer.
"I saw a way to get involved," Thompson said. "Any time that we get involved in THON or help out in any way shape or form, it's always an awesome experience for us."
The men's hockey team has been involved in THON for years, and the Nittany Lions have their own THON child, Colton Buckley. The Nittany Lions have also made numerous appearances at the Bryce Jordan Center during THON weekend, even winning the "Athlete Hour" pep rally dance competition in 2015.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky took time to recap the bye week while also providing a quick preview of the upcoming Big Ten opening weekend at home in Pegula Ice Arena. Nittany Lion Chase Berger also took time to preview the weekend of conference opening action, featuring a special addition to Friday's THON game.
Check out updates from both video sessions below.
By Maria Canales, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Freshman forward Denis Smirnov became the fourth Nittany Lion to score a hat trick, notching three goals against Arizona State Friday night.
Smirnov, who didn't want to take all the credit for his hat trick, emphasized that it was his teammates and their contributions helping his own performance on the ice.
"It feels great," Smirnov said of adding to Penn State's hat trick history. "It feels great to get a huge win here."
The crowd went wild during the second period as Smirnov found the back of the net for the third time and the goal horn blasted in celebration. A handful of hats were thrown onto the ice, with a few fans leaving their seats to be closer to the boards so their hats would make it over.
Smirnov joins just three other Nittany Lions who have scored three goals in one game, David Glen, Casey Bailey, and most recently, Tommy Olczyk. Olczyk scored three in a 6-3 win over Princeton on December 11, 2015.
The top line of Smirnov, senior Dylan Richard and sophomore Andrew Sturtz found a lot of success against the Sun Devils, with Sturtz himself notching two goals and Richard picking up two assists Friday night.
Sturtz, who missed last weekend's games against Alaska Anchorage due to injury, was happy to be back in the lineup against Arizona State.
"It felt great," Sturtz said. "I know school's going into break here but it definitely didn't feel like it, the place was still rocking. It's a blessing to play in a rink like this every day."
In addition to the five goals combined from Smirnov and Sturtz, a goal each from freshman Nate Sucese and sophomore Alec Marsh lifted the Nittany Lions past the Sun Devils, 7-4.
"I think everybody on the bench said he needed that," head coach Guy Gadowsky said of Marsh's goal. "He has been playing well, he has been working extremely hard and the puck just hasn't been going in for him."
Gadowsky said that he hopes Marsh's goal is the start of good things to come for the young forward.
The Nittany Lions came out swinging Saturday afternoon, quickly putting up five goals in the first period, all scored by different players. The Nittany Lions had great puck movement and communication setting up for each goal, each seemingly effortless.
Penn State then went into a defensive shell during the second period, using a low-risk offensive strategy. The Nittany Lions maintained their lead, allowing only seven shots during the second period, while sophomore goaltender Chris Funkey kept Arizona State scoreless.
Freshman forward Liam Folkes scored the only goal of the second period, sending Penn State into the second intermission with a 6-0 lead. It was his first goal as a Nittany Lion.
The Nittany Lions maintained their strategy shift into the third period, with freshman forward Nikita Pavlychev adding a goal for good measure. Sucese was posted in front of the net, but his shot went off the pipe and Pavlychev was able to tuck in the loose puck. Smirnov notched his fourth of the weekend quickly after.
In addition to the offensive display the Nittany Lions put on, Funkey recorded his first shut out between the pipes for the Blue and White.No. 10 Penn State sealed the deal, sending the Sun Devils back to Arizona with an 8-0 loss.
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