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YSU Hockey Falters in League Openers

BOARDMAN, OHIO (Tuesday, October 9, 2007) - The Youngstown State University hockey team dropped two shoot-out decisions as they opened up College Hockey Mid-America league play this weekend.

After fighting through seven rounds of a shoot-out Friday night, the 28th ranked Penguins fell 3-2 on the road at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

"We ran into a hot goaltender on Friday against IUP," said Penguins head coach Rocky Russo. "We had some great goaltending as well, but they just ended up netting one more than we did."

Saturday's result was eerily similar. YSU had a 5-2 lead during the second period, before losing 6-5 in a six-round shoot-out versus the University of Pittsburgh in the Penguins home opener.

"We really dominated the first half of Saturday's game, but we didn't find a way to close them out," Russo said. "We put it on cruise control. As soon as we let our guard down, they took it to us."

Despite the loss on Saturday, Russo is happy with what the team showed in front of their loyal fan base at the Ice Zone.

"We've gone about six weeks now since school started, and it's been a long journey to get where we are at now," says Russo. "To get our first home game under our belt and play well - it was a good thing.

"The fans were great. It was a noisy environment and I think it was a little hostile for Pitt."

Mike Poljak, the team's leading scorer a year ago, and last season's ACHA Rookie of the Year, suffered a concussion against IUP. Poljak is expected to miss two weeks while recovering.

But, the weekend wasn't without its bright spots. Russo says he was particularly impressed with the play of forward Michael Stokar.

"Stokar has come in as a freshman and leads the team in goals," says Russo. "He has a real nose for the net. He's working really well with Naaman (Moorman) right now. When he's been given the opportunity to put the puck in the net, he's been finishing on a consistent basis."

Before the team hosts #25 Duquesne and travels to #16 Robert Morris this coming weekend, Russo says there are some improvements that need to be made.

"We have got to do a better job of playing consistently for 60 minutes, focusing on defense, and the goals are going to come," says Russo. "We just have to make sure we keep them out of our own net.

"We need to forget about what happened in the past. Those were a couple of tough losses. We just need to get on with what we've got coming up this weekend, and really focus on doing the little things correctly."

The puck drops Friday at 7 p.m. at the Ice Zone in Boardman. Saturday's game at RMU begins at 9:30 p.m. The Youngstown State University Hockey Team is based out of the Ice Zone and is sponsored by the B.J. Alan Company - Phantoms Fireworks, located in Youngstown, Ohio.