With the way things are going, we’re going to need to come up with a nickname for Penn State hockey’s top line of Casey Bailey, David Goodwin, and Taylor Holstrom pretty soon.
Maybe "Hobey Line" could be a fitting title.
Bailey found himself at the top of the NCAA’s goal scoring charts on saturday night, as his two goals gave him 16 for the season — putting him solely in first place on a list that he has spent much of this season tied at the top.
The line accounted for four of the Lions’ five goals on Saturday evening, all they would need in the Nittany Lions’ 5-2 dispatching of the Michigan State Spartans.
Holstrom and Bailey were recently named as two of 59 finalists on the Hobey Baker award’s list, awarded to the annual best player in College Hockey.
Rocking the team’s brand new, grey third jerseys, the trio of forwards had three, three, and two points respectively on the night.
After Bailey’s second goal, The Roar Zone — Penn State’s student section — erupted into a chant:
"Ho-bey Ba-ker!" the full 1,000 seat section chanted in unison.
None of Bailey, Goodwin, Holstrom or coach Guy Gadowsky could hear the chants in real time, but learned about them after the game.
"That’s so great," Gadowsky said, as a huge grin came across his face and a chuckle out of his mouth. "That’s awesome."
Goalie Matthew Skoff had a nice bounce back game, allowing two first period goals, but shutting the Spartans out over the following 40 minutes of hockey.
Even though he’s not on the same side of the ice as the offensive action, the goalie still knows what is going on over there as well.
"These guys have clicked since the beginning of last year," Skoff said. "I know that when they’re on the ice I can enjoy watching what they’re doing on the other end."
The chippy first period saw a good bit of pushing and shoving, along with three goals scored by our Big Ten matchup.
Penn State made their mark first, when less than two minutes into the game, Michigan State committed a turnover on their own blue line. Bailey corralled the puck, and swiftly skated up the right side of the ice with his linemate, Goodwin flanking him on the other side.
As both men skated toward Michigan State goalie Jake Hildebrand, the uncertainty of who would be shooting the puck was clearly effecting him, as he shifted back and forth within the crease. Sure enough, Bailey decided to keep the puck, firing it from just outside the circle. The shot smacked off of the back of the net, giving the Nittany Lions a 1-0 lead only 1:11 into the game.
Bailey pumped his fist and skated behind the net, celebrating his 15th goal of the season, tying him once again for tops in Division I NCAA hockey.
It didn’t take long for the Spartans to strike right back, however, as Villiam Haag scored his second goal in as many nights, firing a rocket of a shot past Skoff down at the other end of the ice. Haag’s goal came at the first period’s 4:13 mark.
The Spartans gained a lead in the dwindling minutes of the opening stanza, when captain MIchael Ferrantino made goalie Matthew Skoff pay for allowing a rebound. Ferrantino scored his ninth of the season at 19:37 of the first, as Taylor Swift’s "Shake It Off" immediately began to play in an effort to lift the spirits of both the Penn State faithful and Gadowsky’s players.
Nate Jensen’s first goal of the year turned out to come at a pretty opportune time for the Lions — 15:01 into the second period, to be precise. Jensen’s equalizer came after a lengthy scuffle in front of the net that saw Hildebrand make some athletic saves, including one on Curtis Loik. Jensen saw an opening, and took it, tying the game up.
At 17:22 of the second, the Nittany Lions regained the lead for the first time since the very start of the game. With the Synergy between Goodwin, Bailey, and Holstrom at an all-time high, the former two once again made a highlight reel play. Bailey collected the puck just to the right side of the net, and made a sweet, quick saucer pass over to Goodwin to the left of the net. The sophomore poked it home real quick for his tenth goal of the season, putting the Lions up 3-2.
"It’s definitely a team credit," Bailey said after the game, referring to his leading the NCAA in goals. He alluded to how his line works so well and always seems to know where the other two are, and where they’re going to be.
The super line continued its hot play into the third period, scoring two more goals in the first three minutes of the period. The first, for Holstrom, came on his own deflection of a Luke Juha slapshot off a feed from Goodwin. Then, Hildebrand was unable to cover the puck up after a flurry of opportunities came in front of the net, concluding with Bailey looking at almost an empty net. The junior forward claimed his place atop the NCAA’s goal charts at that point, smacking the puck into the back of the net, as the chants from the crowd of "Hobey Baker" shortly followed, with the Lions leading 5-2.
Bailey and Goodwin joked about this after the game, as Bailey said that his linemate told him he "stole" the goal from him.
"I’m just doing what I can to not let Casey Bailey outscore me during this homestand," Goodwin said, flashing his deadpan sense of humor.
"I thought they could’ve had a couple more," Gadowsky said.
The Lions again put up a robust shot count, outshooting Sparty by a 40-30 margin.
"We got beat in every phase of the game tonight," Spartans coach Tom Anastos said.
The game’s end saw a few Michigan State players decline to shake hands with Penn State players, something that Anastos called "unacceptable."
"It’s passion," Holstrom said. "Sometimes guys get fired up. It gets heated."
The game was broadcast on ESPNU, with popular broadcaster John Buccigross on the play-by-play. Buccigross previously broadcasted two games last season, and Saturday was his first back in Happy Valley this season.
The Roar Zone tipped their hat to both Buccigross as well as his late colleague, Stuart Scott throughout the game, displaying a sign across the glass that read "Bucci: Cooler than the other side of the Pillow."
Regardless of post-game happenings, one thing is for certain — Penn State is in first place in the Big Ten, after taking four of six possible points from the Spartans this weekend, jumping ahead of Michigan.
Gadowsky still thinks its too early for that kind of talk, though.
"I think the guys are very proud because of a pretty good performance tonight," the fourth-year coach said. "But not because what it does in the standings."