Ever since arriving at Penn State from Alaska Anchorage, Eric Scheid has come up big for the Nittany Lions.
Consistently the team’s best scorer over the team’s tenure in Pegula Ice Arena, the forward added yet another to his list of feats on Friday night, scoring the go-ahead goal in the Nittany Lions 3-1 victory against Holy Cross, helping the Lions improve to 2-1-2 on the season.
Coach Guy Gadowsky referred to Scheid as his team’s "most consistent" offensive player over the past two years, and recalled a conversation he had with one of the forward’s old coaches.
"He told me, ‘he’s not the flashiest guy all the time, but somehow he always manages to get onto the score sheet," the fourth-year coach said. "Obviously, tonight was a great time for him to come through again.
Tied 1-1 with under ten minutes to play, the atmosphere in the building was tense. The Lions had an opportunity on the power play, but had come up empty on their previous six opportunities.
"I thought our power play was looking okay, but our putts just weren't sinking," coach Guy Gadowsky said after the game. "But if you keep getting birdie putts, sooner or later one is going to go in."
And that it did.
Forward Kenny Brooks found himself with some open ice, and saw the big body of Max Gardiner and the speedy Scheid down in front of Holy Cross goaltender Matt Ginn. Brooks launched a slap shot from about ten feet in front of the blue line, and after a screen from Gardiner and a quick scrum in front of the net, Scheid buried the puck in the back of the net.
The sellout crowd of 6,043 at Pegula went wild as the goal horn sounded, and Scheid yelled back at the student section, banging emphatically on the glass—mirroring the fans on the other side.
"I’ve scored a lot of goals…" Scheid said facetiously after the game, preempting laughs from the media. "But that one, we’ve had some tough stretches where we’ve given up third period leads and to see that lead be taken away [when Holy Cross had previously tied the game at one]…I was excited for us to get back in the lead and pull off the win that we did."
The Lions had a strong showing offensively, totaling 50 shots on the night, with forward Casey Bailey leading the way with seven of his own
The game started off slowly, as the first period saw a combined 24 shots between the two teams, but neither team got one past the other’s goalie.
Matthew Skoff was again exceptional, as he saved 29 shots on the game.
"He made a lot of saves that were actually pretty difficult look easy," Gadowsky said.
He showcased this at the conclusion of the opening stanza, as he made a few great saves with his glove, before knocking a Holy Cross drifting puck off the goal line, saving a goal.
It appeared that Penn State had their first goal for a few minutes during the 18:51 mark of the first, as forward Dylan Richard found open ice and skated up the right side of the Lions’ offensive zone towards Ginn.
Richard made a nice move, and got past the goalie, and put it behind his right pad side for what looked to be a goal. After a review, however, the officials determined that Richard had instead interfered with Ginn, and the sophomore was instead sent to the penalty box for two minutes.
Gadowsky said after the game that the NCAA was putting an emphasis on goalie interferences, but clearly wasn't seeing eye-to-eye with the higher-ups.
"That can't possibly be their intention," he said. "To me, that was probably the prettiest goal we've scored all season."
The Crusaders had one more chance at the conclusion of the period, but Skoff pulled a shot out of mid-air to add yet another to his highlight reel of saves on the night.
The second period started off with more of the same for the Nittany Lions and Crusaders were both unable to get on the scoreboard.
The Lions did, however, have a bit of a shot explosion as they added 19 shots to their tally in the second.
Luckily for them, one of those shots counted for something, as forward Ricky DeRosa scored from the right crease, getting a wrist shot to the back of the net as Ginn was screened on the shot, unable to see where the sophomore’s shot was coming from.
Holy Cross leveled the score at 7:23 into the third period, when forward Scott Pooley was quick enough to find open space in front of the net, then quickly blasting a one-timer past Skoff to knot the game at a goal apiece.
Freshman Scott Conway had his impact felt on the game, even if it didn’t necessarily show up on the scoresheet—the forward nearly scored the first goal of his collegiate career on a few separate occasions, coming within inches each time.
At 12:32 of the third, Scheid had his big moment, putting the Lions up for good. Brooks, Gardiner, and Scheid all contributed in different ways to the play, and all three worked together to set up the goal.
The Lions iced the game at 16:14 into the third, when Casey Bailey scored his third goal of the season after a few shots at the net left the Alaska native in front, with Ginn out of position. Bailey pumped his fist after scoring, as the Pegula crow got as loud as it had been all night.
Gadowsky called Bailey’s goal "so fitting," as he pointed out that Bailey had been quietly playing such a strong game—between board play, kicking the puck out of tough spots, and racking up shots and opportunities for the team.
Bailey, Scheid, Skoff, and Gadowsky will finish their series with Holy Cross up on Sunday at noon. They’ll get the day off on Saturday, when the rest of the community will be worrying about Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes.