Boston College rolls past Penn State to win Three Rivers Classic
Eventually, one has to figure, the Penn State men's hockey team will settle into a groove.
Something that would help the Nittany Lions find that groove? Not facing a nationally ranked team each time they hit the ice.
Until that point, however, the Lions are stuck fighting uphill battles like the one they faced Saturday against No. 7 Boston College in the championship game of the Three Rivers Classic.
Taking on a ranked team for the seventh time in eight games, Penn State hung with the Eagles for a bit before the bottom fell out in an 8-2 loss before 8,222 fans at Consol Energy Center.
“It's good for us,” Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said. “We like that. The more experiences we can have with top nationally-ranked competition is only going to help in the future.”
Destry Straight had a hat trick, and five others scored for Boston College, which arrived as the highest-scoring team in college hockey and will leave with the same distinction after netting at least five goals for the ninth time this season.
Penn State entered the Three Rivers Classic looking to snap a six-game losing streak — all six to ranked teams in No. 6 Union, No. 10 Massachusetts-Lowell and No. 14 Wisconsin.
The Lions (4-10-1) topped Robert Morris on Friday after fighting back from a 2-1 deficit and getting the game-winning goal from Eric Scheid at 18 minutes, 20 seconds of the third period.
It was the fourth time in five games Penn State scored three or more goals.
For awhile, it looked like that might be the case Saturday, but Boston College (12-4-2) scored three goals in 6:10 during the decisive second period to take control.
“They're a scary offensive team,” Gadowsky said of Boston College.
Perhaps nothing showcased Boston College's strength like Straight's marker at 6:26 of the second.
Ryan Fitzgerald, who scored earlier, cut in on goal from left to right, reached back and shot the puck from between his legs. Straight shoved home the rebound, but it was a spectacular effort from Fitzgerald that made the difference.
The Eagles' top line of Bill Arnold, Johnny Gaudreau and Fitzgerald finished with 12 points during the two-day event.
Gaudreau (15 goals) ranks second in NCAA Division I in points (32) and has scored in 13 straight games.
Casey Bailey staked Penn State to a 1-0 lead at 4:46 of the first period, but Fitzgerald and Kevin Hayes scored 33 seconds apart late in the first to produce a 2-1 edge.
Straight got his second of the game at 10:57 of the second period when he tipped a point shot from Isaac MacLeod for a 4-1 lead before Gaudreau deked his way to a 15th goal and a 5-1 lead.
Danny Linell, Straight and Michael Sit scored in the third period to finish the rout.
There's no sign of Penn State's brutal schedule letting up, either. The Lions and Eagles will get together for a rematch Jan. 25 at Pegula Ice Arena in University Park.
The Lions, who got a late goal from David Goodwin, have four games with No. 1 Minnesota, four against No. 3 Michigan and two versus No. 14 Wisconsin.
Boston College coach Jerry York said he was impressed with what Gadowsky has done at Penn State thus far.
“It's going to take a few more recruiting classes for him to get them where he wants them to be, but they gave us all we could handle,” York said.
In the early game, Robert Morris got a pair of third-period goals from David Friedmann and Zac Lynch, but it was too little too late for the Colonials (2-12-2), who suffered a 3-2 loss to Bowling Green (9-9-4) in the consolation game.
It's the seventh loss in the past nine games for Robert Morris.