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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Sophomore Denis Smirnov (Moscow, Russia) netted the game-winning goal as No. 11 Penn State topped American International College, 7-5, in non-conference action to open the 2017-18 home slate this evening from Pegula Ice Arena.
Penn State improves to 3-2-0 on the year while AIC falls to 0-5-1 overall.
Before the contest there was a brief pregame ceremony to honor the 2017 Big Ten Tournament Champions and the first-ever NCAA Tournament team as a pair of banners were unveiled.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- AIC jumped out the early lead as Brennan Kapcheck found Martin Mellberg across the ice and he sent a shot off the pad of a sliding Peyton Jones (Langhorne, Pa.) and into the net for the 1-0 edge at 5:01 of the first period.
- Penn State responded as senior Trevor Hamilton (Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.) banged home his own rebound on his third effort out in front of the net sliding the puck under the right leg of Yellow Jacket net-minder Alex Murray for the power-play goal at 12:44 of the opening frame.
- The Nittany Lions grabbed their first lead of the evening with under one-minute to play as junior Chase Berger (St. Louis, Mo.) got in the way of a pass and sprung classmate Andrew Sturtz (Buffalo, N.Y.) in on a shorthanded effort and the junior didn't miss for his third tally of the season at 19:27.
- Penn State extended the lead with an early power-play goal in the second period as sophomore Liam Folkes (Scarborough, Ontario) fired through traffic to beat Murray off a clean faceoff win by classmate Brandon Biro (Sherwood Park, Alberta) for the 3-1 lead at 5:27.
- AIC cut into the deficit again with an odd-man rush as Dominik Florian was able to pick a corner from the low slot off a feed from Jackson Dudley at 7:38 for the 3-2 margin.
- Freshman Cole Hults (Stoughton, Wis.) then registered his first career goal with a nifty move out front slipping the puck five-hole at 9:03 for the 4-2 advantage. Sturtz and Berger picked up the assists on the goal.
- Biro gave the Lions their biggest lead of the evening at 15:13 as he was able to connect during an odd-man rush for the 5-2 edge. Smirnov and Jones secured the assists.
- AIC answered just 28 seconds later as Kyle Stephan slipped one past the pad of Jones for the 5-3 score at 15:41 of the middle frame.
- Penn State started quick in the third period as Smirnov fired one home just 49 seconds into the frame and sophomore Kris Myllari (Kanata, Ontario) added his second of the campaign at 5:19 for the 7-3 margin.
- AIC wouldn't go quietly, however, as the Jackets fought back with a shorthanded goal from Shawn McBride and then during a 5-on-3 power-play Hugo Reinhardt found the back of the net for the 7-5 final score.
Jones stopped 28 shots to improve to 3-2-0 on the season while Murray made 34 saves over the first 45:07 of game time and falls to 0-2-0 on the year. Stefano Durante collected six saves in the first NCAA action of his career in relief of Murray.
- Penn State had seven different goal scorers on the evening and five players register multi-point efforts.
- Sturtz secured his seventh career shorthanded tally to increase his own Penn State career record. The junior also registered his 20th multi-point game and increased his goal streak to three games just one shy of his career-high.
- Smirnov extended his goal streak to four games to tie his career-high and also registered the 16th multi-point game of his career and third this season.
- Berger registered the 12th multi-point game of his career, which included a career-high three assists.
- Hults registered the first multi-point game of his career while Biro secured his fourth with a career-high three points on one goal and two assists.
- Peyton Jones collected his third career assist on Biro's second period goal to put him just one shy of the Penn State all-time career record for goaltender assists behind Eamon McAdam.
- Jones also surpassed the 1,000 career saves mark after stopping 28 pucks on the night.
- Penn State held the 47-33 advantage in shots and went 2-for-5 on the power-play while AIC was 1-for-4 with the man-advantage.
- PSU has now scored at least one power-play goal in each game this season and have had multiple man-advantage tallies in three straight contests.
The two teams return tomorrow evening to close out the season series with a 7 p.m. puck drop.