Robinson, Sturtz help spark Nittany Lions

UNIVERSITY PARK — Associate captain Chase Berger said following a loss to Michigan last week that Penn State needed to do a better job of ‘creating their own energy.’ Captain James Robinson’s hat-trick and Andrew Sturtz’s record-breaking goal and four assists did just that as Penn State won 6-4 over Mercyhurst.

Before the game, Robinson had no goals through nine games on the season. After the game, his season stats look much different as his hat-truck propelled the Lions from the start.

In a relatively even opening period, Penn State did what it failed to do in its last three games: score first. Robinson cleaned up Andrew Sturtz’s blocked shot it give the Lions a 1-0 lead just under five minutes into the game. Robinson said that one of the Lions’ objectives was to strike first.

“Having a hot start was something we stressed right from the end of the game last night,” Robinson said. “Getting that first one and trying getting that momentum rolling from the beginning was big for our team.”

But the Lions couldn’t keep the momentum for long as the Lakers answered back with two quick goals. Nittany Lions goaltender Peyton Jones did a nice job to block Mercyhurst’s Quinn Wichers’ shot, however Jack Riley rebounded the puck and beat Jones to tie the game at one. Just under 90 seconds later, Taylor Best doubled the Laker lead off of another rebound, despite the Lions having more shots.

James Robinson scored his second goal of the game from the slot to tie the game at two. The goal gave Andrew Sturtz his second assist of the night. The score would remain the same going into the second period as the Lions outshot the Lakers 19-15.

Penn State began the second period the same way it began the first: a James Robinson goal. Cole Hults had a pinpoint pass to find his captain in front of the net to get his third goal just 29 seconds in the second period. Robinson’ hat-trick was the 5th in program history. Head coach Guy Gadowsky said his captain stepped up when they needed him most.

“Right now, we are thirsty for identity and [James Robinson] did all that,” Gadowsky said. “He just appeased the Hockey Gods all night. Every little hard thing, every time he got the puck deep. He outsprinted guys for icings, he touched first, he backed checked so well and when you do those things the Hockey Gods love that and he got rewarded.”

The Nittany Lions would double their lead after a perfectly executed two-on-one goal. James Gobetz stole the puck and raced toward the opposing net and found Sturtz on the right side. Sturtz found Chase Berger crashing the net form the opposite side and Berger slid the puck into the back of the net to give Penn State a 4-2 lead.

However, a Derian Hamilton roughing penalty late in the second period proved costly for the Lions, as Joshua Lammon cut the lead to just one with a power play goal.

The 4-3 scoreline did not last very long as sophomore Liam Folkes restored the two-goal lead just 46 seconds later.

The third period started off slow with neither team able to find the net. Then Mercyhurst’s Zach Todd beat Peyton Jones’ glove with a wrister to cut the lead in half with 13:43 remaining in the game. Six and a half minutes later his teammate Kane Elliot got the Lakers third rebound goal of the game to even the game up at five each.

The Lions were able to respond quickly as Nikita Pavlychev gave Penn State the lead three minutes later. Following a crazy scramble in front of the net, Trevor Hamilton was able to find Pavlychev as the Russian’s one timer restored the Lion lead with just under five to play.

Andrew Sturtz had the chance to put the game away and set the Penn State career goals record on a shorthanded breakaway. However, he would be denied by Mercyhurst goaltender Brando Wildung.

But he would not be denied again with 12 seconds remaining as he set the new school record of 46 career goals and sealed the Nittany Lions’ victory. Sturtz said he knew he was close to getting the record, but he also found motivation in crowd.

“My mom was here so I figured it would be a special night to get it and she can’t get to a lot of games,” Sturtz said. “It meant a lot to me to get it tonight, when I couldn’t get it earlier in the game I started fighting a little bit but to get it was nice, even though it was on an empty net.”

The Lions have now split their all four of their series so far this season and will travel to South Bend as they take on Notre Dame as Big Ten foes for the first time Friday.