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Penn State Hockey: Niagara Falls To Nittany Lions 5-1

by on November 03, 2016 9:15 PM

How It Happened:

Penn State scored twice in the game's opening 6:59 to push out to a 2-0 lead and the Nittany Lions never looked back on a rare Thursday meeting at Pegula Ice Arena against Niagara. Zach Saar scored just 2:35 into regulation from in close in his first action of the season. A handful of regulars like James Goetz, James Robinson, Derian Hamilton and Liam Folkes were scratched for Thursday's game. Andrew Sturtz made it 2-0 with his sixth of the year diving around Niagara goalie Therien Guillaume and slotting home the puck. By the end of the opening 20 minutes of play Penn State led 2-0 and in the shot count 16-7.

The second period was more of the same although Niagara made things interesting 5:42 into the second frame as Kris Spriggs found the back of the net to cut the lead to just one. Penn State dominated the run of play though and the shot total to a 28-8 margin. The Nittany Lions didn't find the back of the net until just over two minutes remained in the second period. It was the Russian native Denis Smirnov who found pay dirt twice first with 17:53 gone by and then again with just over a minute to go in the frame.

Dylan Richard added one more in the final period with just over five minutes to go to make it 5-1.

It Was Over When:

Despite Penn State's dominance in the second period it was still only a one goal game with just minutes left in the middle frame. That was until Denis Smirnov started ripping shots, scoring twice in about two minutes time. From there it was a 4-1 margin heading into the final period in a game Penn State had largely dominated in every facet. 

Stat Of The Game:

While having seen action in several games last season Chris Funkey's win was the first of his career in his first career start in net. Beyond that Penn State gave up fewer than 10 shots in all three periods.

"Everyone is just so happy for him, well earned. Really happy for him. He makes any program better." Coach Guy Gadowsky said after the game with a huge grin.

Player Of The Game:

Smirnov two goals gives him the honors following Thursday's win.

Up Next:

Both teams will hit the ice Friday night at 7PM for the final game of the series. At 6-1-1 Penn State will look to make it seven unbeaten in a row.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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