The game began with the ice tilted in Penn State's favor. The pace was feverish, the fans were loud, and it seemed inevitable that the home team would dominate from beginning to end. Forty-four seconds into the game, Northern Michigan was forced to take a penalty to slow a scoring attempt. Thirty seconds later, Dylan Richard scored the first goal of the game for the Lions on an assist from Curtis Loik and Scott Conway.
The Lions continued to dominate after the early goal, but were not able to put a second goal past the Wildcats' tough goalie Mathias Dahlstrom. Midway through the period, Conway scored a goal but the whistle had blown when the referee lost sight of the puck. The call to blow the whistle was the proper call, but it was an unfortunate break for the Nittany Lions.
There are times when it can be deflating to dominate the game for an entire period and not have anything to show for it. In this case, PSU had a one-goal lead but it felt like it had a lead of ten goals as time expired in the first period.
Penn State had a 21-7 shot advantage and controlled play for the entire period.
The second period was the exact opposite for the Lions. The team came out flat, and Northern Michigan was able to capitalize with four unanswered goals. Fifteen minutes into the period, Barrett Kaib had a pair of goals. Sami Salminen and Ryan Kesti each added on goal for the visiting team as well. Salminen had three points in ten minutes, adding two assists to his goal.
During the scoring onslaught coach by the visiting team, Guy Gadowsky used his timeout in an attempt to calm his team. It did not work, as the break was sandwiched between a pair of Wildcat goals. The contrast in play from the first period to the second for the Lions was baffling to watch. PJ Musico entered the game in relief of Skoff after the fourth goal was allowed on a soft floater that the normally-dependable goalie would have turned aside.
The coach later had this to say of his team's play in the second period:
It seems every time we play really well in the first we come out very, very flat in the second. We're obviously not doing the job to prepare or motivate as well as we can going in to the second because it has happened numerous times and it's getting a little frustrating, but all and all it was a big win.
The coach would later reveal that he did not go into the locker room after the second period because he was not in the right frame of mind to speak to the team.
On the topic of the goalie change, Gadowsky made this statement:
Skoff was left out to dry. We didn't play for him or for each other in the second period. Have to do some soul searching.
Casey Bailey was able to find the back of the net for the Lions for a power-play goal, cutting the lead to 4-2 with less than a minute remaining in the period. The score gave the team and the crowd the boost it needed heading in to the final period. During the intermission, football coach James Franklin and quarterback Christian Hackenberg took part in festivities. Franklin attended the game with several players and recruits. Coach lit the lamp on his second attempt from the blue line with a little home-field advantage by the crew holding the board in front of the goal.
The final period began where the second had left off, with the Lions pulling out all the stops in an effort to get the lead cut to one goal. Luke Juha got a little too aggressive and was called for tripping two and a half minutes in. The penalty seemed like it could hurt the momentum of the home team, but one minute later Dylan Richard calmed those fears with a short-handed goal on an assist from Eric Scheid.
The score restored the roar inside of Pegula Ice arena. The team was now down just one goal and was on the charge.
Play was fast and aggressive for the next ten minutes, but the Lions were not able to capitalize until there were six minutes remaining in the game David Glen tied the game on an assist from David Thompson and Loik. The goal caused an explosion of joy inside the arena. The atmosphere was similar to that of Beaver Stadium during a close football game, on a smaller scale.
The home team did not let off the pedal at this point, happy with tying the game and heading to overtime. Two minutes later, Conway gave the Lions the game-winning goal on an assist from Scheid and Richard. Once again, the fans went crazy.
Penn State was able to hold the lead, almost adding to it with a near-miss shot out of goalie PJ Musico. Musico cleared the puck toward the empty net and it twirled and meandered toward pay-dirt, but ran out of steam a few feet short.
The win was very important for the Lions, coming against a respectable non-conference opponent. Penn State moves to 6-0-1 against non-B1G teams on the year at Pegula.
- Penn State had 103 shots on goal in the past two Friday night games at Pegula.
- Musico got the win in net for the first time since 2013.
- The game tonight will feature THON uniforms for the team, which will be auctioned off after the game and the proceeds donated to the THON effort. There will also be a teddy bear toss after the second period with the bears being donated to THON families.
- The game today will be televised on the Big Ten Network at 4:30. The comment section of this article will be used as the open-thread discussion. Join us if you like.
- Check out the sixth installment of the Penn State Hockey story.