Newark, Del. — Special teams proved the determining factor in the Penn State Ice Lions’ 7-4 win over Rider in the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey Conference North Division final on Saturday afternoon (Feb. 16) at Gold Arena.
Not only did Penn State’s penalty killing unit send the Broncs chasing pucks deep in their zone and hold them to one goal in six power play attempts, the Lions connected twice with a man advantage to edge clear of the Broncs.
Tied 2-2 after Rider right winger Chris Johnson fired a hard wrist shot over Penn State goalie Will Holtforster’s stick 3:08 into the second period, the Lions reeled off three straight goals to establish and extend a lead they would not relinquish. After Rider goalie Angelo Perri denied a net-front chance from Ambrose Aquadro with a highlight reel-worthy lunging glove save in the eighth minute of the frame, Jay Furst tapped in the go-ahead goal for the Lions at 9:09. Aquadro redeemed himself with Penn State’s first power-play goal, taking advantage of a cross-checking minor assessed to Vinny Arlotta and directing a Mike Lassik one-timer from long range past Perri at 11:14 before then earning the secondary assist on Jake O’Donnell’s 40-foot wrist shot borne of a give-and-go with Lassik 6:16 into the third period.
The Broncs mounted a rally midway in the final frame, cutting the Lions’ lead to 5-4 with eight minutes to go by way of goals from second-liners Cole Moskal and Arlotta, only for the Lions to take advantage of net-front positioning to turn back two more rebounds off Perri’s pads. Nico Gricco’s directed a Brendan Horgas shot from the left point past at 12:12, and Furst scored his second of the game off the rebound of an O’Donnell shot from inside the right dot with 2:03 to go.
In all, Penn State accounted for 48 shots on goal and was 2-for-4 on the power play. Joe D’Elia and Joe DeLaurentis also scored for Penn State, while Horgas added three assists. For Rider, Justin Tiso also had a goal and an assist while Jake Lukis contributed a pair of assists.
Holtforster improved to 10-2-0 on the season with a 32-save effort while Perri recorded 41 saves in defeat.
Penn State will face Liberty in the MACH championship game for the third consecutive year. Game time Sunday (Feb. 17) is 3:30 p.m., with Delaware Hockey Night Radio offering full coverage from Fred Rust Arena. Rider returns to action on March 2 in the ACHA Southeast Regional Tournament.
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