St. Lawrence Drops Season Opener to Penn State

St. Lawrence Drops Season Opener to Penn State

Senior Drew Smolcynski gave the No. 16 St. Lawrence men's hockey team an early lead at Penn State, but the Nittany Lions rallied back for three unanswered goals en route to an eventual 4-2 win in the season opener for both teams in State College, Pa.

Penn State put pressure on the Saints early, forcing junior goaltender Kyle Hayton to make a number of saves in close including one late in the first Nittany Lion power play on a two-on-one break into the zone.

After a successful kill, St. Lawrence responded with some offensive pressure and eventually Smolcynski broke through for the first goal of the game and of the 2016-17 season for the Saints.

Jacob Pritchard controlled the puck along the wall on the red line and sauced a pass to the Hatfield, Pa. native as he cut across the crease. Smolcynski backhanded a shot high stick side to beat Peyton Jones for a 1-0 lead for the visitors.

But the Saints ended up taking four penalties in the first, swinging momentum towards the Nittany Lions who capitalized and took a 2-1 lead heading in to the first intermission.

"We got ourselves in some difficulty early on with penalties and I think it taxed the guys that were members of our power play unit," head coach Mark Morris said. "We're not at the stage where we can afford to spend so much time in the penalty box and expect the guys that we need to score goals to have the energy to produce."

Penn State seniors Dylan Richard and David Thompson scored in a span of three and a half minutes in the middle of the first period to erase the Saints lead, while sophomore Andrew Sturtz's goal on a rebound late in the middle frame proved to be the game winner for the Nittany Lions.

Trailing 3-1 early in the third period the Saints got one back with Michael Laidley and Nolan Gluchowski teaming up to make it 3-2 in favor of the home team. Gluchowski won a battle on the wall and hit Laidley in the slot where the Little Current, Ontario native fired a shot bar down behind Jones for his first of the year.

The Saints were unable to fully close the gap, however, and Blake Gober iced the game with an empty-net goal for Penn State with 13 seconds remaining.

"We were on our heels throughout much of the first part of the game and we played an inspired hockey team," Morris added. "We looked like we were hoping that were going to have a good effort instead of digging in and competing the way we need to to be successful. We have to wipe the slate clean and get back to playing with a lot of jam."

The Saints were outshot 39-30 in the game and finished 0-for-3 on the power play, while also allowing a shorthanded goal. Penn State was 0-for-5 with the man advantage.

Hayton made 35 saves in the loss and his counterpart, Peyton Jones, stopped 28 for Penn State to earn his first collegiate win.

The Saints and Nittany Lions will finish out their two-game set tomorrow, Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. at Pegula Ice Arena.