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Penn State Hockey: No. 16 Nittany Lions Hold Off No. 17 Clarkson 4-3 To Open Season

by on October 11, 2018 10:21 PM

It has been five years, to the day, since Penn State hockey played its first game at Pegula Ice Arena. That season would turn out to be --beyond the novelty of a Division I program playing in its fancy new rink-- unremarkable in terms of results. Penn State would go 4-12-2 at home scoring just 44 goals at Pegula. The Nittany Lions were competitive but not much else.

But in the ensuing years things changed. Penn State would go on to post four consecutive winning seasons within the friendly confines of the building it calls home. 328 more goals, a 50-17-8 record overall that span, a home ice advantage among the best in the nation.

On Thursday evening No. 16 Penn State added to that record with a 4-3 victory over No. 17 Clarkson surviving a back-and-forth third period that opened with four combined goals in just over three minutes.

The night began with a scoreless first period as Chris Funkey fought off eight shots in his season debut. Usual starter Peyton Jones is slated to start Friday night for the second game of the series.

It didn't take long for Clarkson to open the scoring in the second period as Nico Sturm slotted a puck past Funkey 2:16 into the middle frame. Six minutes later Sam Sternschein would respond with a powerplay blast following a crisp cross-crease feed from Chase Berger that gave Penn State its first of two powerplay goals on the night.

With 40 minutes in the books Penn State and Clarkson had set a tone, sharp offense, disciplined defense. At 1-1 this wasn't a game headed towards chaos. Or at least that was what everyone thought.

But then Liam Folkes scored 1:31 into the final period on the man advantage. 2-1.

18 seconds later Clarkson responded. 2-2.

33 seconds later Nate Sucese intercepted a pass and raced down the ice scoring one a shorthanded breakaway that sent Pegula Ice Arena into a frenzy. 3-2

But it didn't last, less than a minute later Greg Moro tying the game again. Just 3:12 into the period, four goals. 3-3.

Chaos.

In the ensuing minutes both Penn State and Clarkson would hit the post or nearly score on a few occasions moving forward. It seemed like a blast from the early years in that same building, a no defense game where the winner would be decided by whoever shot last.

It didn't turn out that way though, as much fun as that might have been to watch. The winner coming with plenty of time remaining as Brandon Biro pounced on a rebound, slapping it home with 11:01 gone by in the third period, the winner, somehow the final goal of the night.

"The hockey gods reward guys who do the extra," Guy Gadowsky said, offering a scientific explanation for Biro's goal. "Every single aspect of his game, he works extremely hard and the gods seem to reward those guys."

Funkey's night would end with 23 saves, nine in the final period. Penn State, per tradition, led the shot count with 32 as the Nittany Lions took just two penalties all night.

So make it 94 games played at Pegula Ice Arena, and in a short five years, a team one victory closer to a third-straight postseason appearance. Something that seemed all but a distant dream not too long ago.



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