Freshman Denis Smirnov (Moscow, Russia) collected a career-high three points on a pair of goals and one assist to help lead the No. 14 Penn State University Nittany Lions past the Niagara University Purple Eagles, 5-1, in non-conference men’s ice hockey action this evening from Pegula Ice Arena.
Penn State improves to 6-1-1 on the year while Niagara drops to 0-6-2 overall.
Penn State wasted little time getting on the board as senior Zach Saar (Richland, Mich.) collected a pass from senior Ricky DeRosa (Aston, Pa.) and skated up the right slot while protecting the puck. He then fired a centering pass through the crease that deflected off a Purple Eagle skate and into the net for the 1-0 lead at 2:35.
The Nittany Lions continued to pressure early on and sophomore Andrew Sturtz (Buffalo, N.Y.) once again showed off his speed by skating past a defender and across the crease finishing past the right pad of Niagara net-minder Guillaume Therien for the 2-0 lead at 6:59.
Niagara answered at 5:42 of the second period as Kris Spriggs potted his third of the year to cut the deficit to one goal, 2-1.
Smirnov then showed off how well he can finish as he collected a pair of goals in just under two minutes of play as he was set up by some beautiful passes from senior David Goodwin (Des Peres, Mo.) at 17:53 and junior Trevor Hamilton (Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.) at 19:51 giving the Nittany Lions the 4-1 lead at the second intermission.
Penn State collected some insurance late in the third as Smirnov used his vision this time to find senior Dylan Richard (Sherwood Park, Alb.) who finished on the doorstep at 14:56 for the 5-1 final.
Sophomore Chris Funkey (Orland Park, Ill.) started his first career game between the pipes for the Blue and White stopping a career-high 22 shots while improving to 1-1-0 on the year earning his first career victory.
Therien made 51 saves while falling to 0-2-0 on the season.