Pittsburgh Hockey Digest

Penn State

No. 18 Penn State uses balanced attack to down Robert Morris

Penn State defenseman Jake Gobetz leans onto Robert Morris forward Alex Tonge. -- JENN HOFFMAN

PITTSBURGH —In the Steel City edition of the Route 22 rivalry, it was no. 18 Penn State who got the winning edge over in-state rival Robert Morris with a 5-2 victory over the Colonials.

After slugging through a lethargic first period in which they gave up a power play goal to Robert Morris, Penn State was able to find the back of the net early and often in the second period. During the first six games of their point-streak, 15 different Nittany Lions found themselves in the goal column.

It seems as though now, as Penn State gears up for the stretch run of conference play, that after a slow start to the season, the Nittany Lions have found their identity, putting pucks on net and developing scoring depth that ultimately may result in carpal tunnel for statisticians everywhere.

“We were missing some of our identity early and I don’t necessarily know the reason for it,” Gadowsky said. “It’s something as a program we really haven’t had to deal with expectations before. I think now…we’re getting back to our identity and I think that’s absolutely been the biggest difference in what’s been happening lately.”

The rediscovered identity was something Robert Morris knew they had to deal with before the game started, they just were unable to.

“We knew that they’re an offensive hockey team. Their D like to join the rush. They like to shoot from everyone and obviously that showed,” Robert Morris forward Timmy Moore said. “They had 40-plus shots. We knew we would have to pick guys up, pick up late guys, get sticks. A couple mental breakdowns by us, and it’s in the back of the net.”

It was Nate Sucese who started the scoring barrage as the center tickled the twine 4:52 into the second period for his fifth goal of the season to even the score at 1-1 on a shot from right in front of Colonials goalie Francis Marotte. Brandon Biro found Sucese, who had whiffed on his lone shot in front of the net in the first, with a tape-to-tape pass that found its way past Marotte.

Less than five minutes later, it was Sam Sternchein that redirected a shot from center Alex Limoges to give Penn State its first lead of the game. The Sternchein goal, his fourth goal of the season, capped off an opening 10 minutes of the second period that saw Penn State dominate Robert Morris.

The scoring in the second did not cease there. Gobetz, who got a helper on Sucese’s goal early in the second, got himself in the goal column with his own 18:32 into the second period. It was his first on the season and with that, he became the 21st Nittany Lion to score a goal this season. With that said, only four Penn State players who’ve skated in a game this year have scored a goal, two of them are goalies.

Colorado Avalanche draftee Denis Smirnov got the third period started with a bang by scoring his seventh goal of the season on a Nittany Lions power play 34 seconds in. Forward Andrew Sturtz notched his 13th assist of the season with the Smirnov goal, tying him with Tyler Hamilton for the team lead, which Sturtz took over later in the third, with his 14th assist coming on Chase Berger’s goal 17 minutes into the period.

Penn State’s ability to score from anywhere in the lineup is by design and something Gadowsky emphasizes year in and year out with his teams.

“We’ve never been a very successful program when we’ve had a lot of eggs in one basket, it’s just not the way we were built to play,” Gadowsky said. “For us to be successful, we need production from four lines and we need production from the back end and that’s something we hope for and we work for. It’s nice to see that finally start to happen.

The win tied goalie Peyton Jones with Michael Skoff for the program lead in wins with 32.


Penn State came into Friday night’s game against Robert Morris riding a six-game point streak and a sweep of top-15 ranked Ohio State. The Nittany Lions were rarely in danger of the streak coming to an end outside of the first period where they gave up the first goal of the night to the Colonials.

Continuing their momentum bodes well for Penn State as Robert Morris serves as their last non-conference series of the regular season. The 2018 portion of the schedule begins January 5th, for the Nittany Lions they host Big Ten rival Wisconsin.

“It’s fun when we’re playing our game,” Gobetz said. “These last few weeks have been awesome. It’s a lot of fun coming to the arena.”


With the game seemingly out of hand following Berger’s goal and the fifth goal of the game for the Nittany Lions Guy, Gadowsky turned to former Ligonier Valley and Pittsburgh Vengeance goalie Matt Ehrlichman to finish out the game with a three-goal lead.

The time on the ice for Ehrlichman, a Bedford, Pa. native, was his first as a member of Penn State’s Division I hockey team after appearing for their club team prior to making the varsity squad last season as a junior. Ehrlichman did not face any shots from Robert Morris.


With the victory, the Nittany Lions moved 10-7-2 on the season. The Nittany Lions will host the Colonials tomorrow evening in their non-conference finale. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. from Pegula Ice Arena in State College.


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