The entertainment value of sporting events tends to live and die based on drama. For the second straight night, Pegula Ice Arena provided plenty of that, as the ups and downs of the contest eventually culminated in a draw for coach Guy Gadowsky's Nittany Lions.
The most dramatic moment of Penn State’s 5-5 tie against Northern Michigan on Satuday came when forward Dylan Richard swatted an Eric Scheid shot out of the air, tying the game at five. It was a strong, important play for the Nittany Lions, who have proven themselves this season to be a resilient and consistent team, even when facing adversity.
Right after the goal, several scrums broke out, eventually resulting in BEASTLY MAN Patrick Koudys’ ejection from the game, along with Northern Michigan’s Reed Seckel.
As Koudys skated from the penalty box to the locker room, the Captain pumped his fist in the air, firing up his teammates on the bench and the fans alike. With the sellout crowd of 6,089 going wild and the players all pounding their sticks on the boards, it was like a scene out of a movie, with the Lions finally completing their comeback yet again, eventually propelling the game towards an overtime finish.
The overtime, while action-packed, saw no goals. The game ended in a draw. Fans at Pegula were treated to an exhibition shootout after the final minute ran up, which Penn State lost, 3-2. But again, it didn’t count, even a little bit.
Gadowsky was proud of his team, even though they only came away with a single point.
"Certainly anytime you walk out of the dressing room without winning the game, you don’t feel great, but they have a lot of things to be happy about," he said.
The Lions now have a record of 12-7-4, 5-2-1-0 in the Big Ten, after the tie.
Penn State outshot Northern Michigan in the game by a 64-29 margin.
The game started out in a typical, fast-paced manner.
Less than a minute into the action, it looked like Penn State had struck first, when Curtis Loik jammed a sliding puck into the back of the net. Much to the chagrin of the 6,089 in attendance, the goal was quickly put under review, and later overturned due to Eric Scheid interfering with Northern Michigan goalie Mathias Dahlstrom.
After 9:57 of game time had passed, Northern Michigan struck first. After an unsuccessful rush by Goodwin, Holstrom and Bailey’s line, the Wildcats took an odd man rush down the opposite end of the ice. Northern Michigan forward Dominik Shine took a shot at McAdam’s pad that bounced up and over the sophomore’s left shoulder. For a moment, the puck just stood on the line. Unaware it was right behind him, Shine saw the puck and quickly buried it home, putting the Lions in a 1-0 hole.
A short time later, despite trailing in shots 7-19 at the time, Northern Michigan doubled its lead. After a shot from forward Zach Urban was stopped by McAdam, the goaltender completely lost sight of the puck, and Ryan Kesti made him pay, powering the puck past the confused goalie.
With just 48.6 seconds left in the first period, the Wildcats added one more. McAdam was screened in front of the goal, and a wrist shot from the point from Urban snuck past McAdam, who again seemed unaware of the situation surrounding him.
McAdam’s struggles in the first period were noticed by Gadowsky, who pulled him from the game at that point, instead opting to go with backup P.J. Musico.
Penn State finally got on the scoreboard at 12:31 of the second period, when Scheid took a feed from Dylan Richard to the house, scoring a short-handed goal. It was Scheid’s 11th of the year, matching his team-leading amount from a season ago.
The Wildcats lead returned to three at 15:01 of the period when Reed Seckel sniped the puck past Musico from the left plank. His lightning fast shot had no problem getting right past the California-born goalie for the first time of the night to make the score 4-1.
At 17:52 in the second, the Lions’ again chopped at the lead, when Ricky DeRosa redirected a slap from Koudys out of the air, which ended up in the back right of the Northern Michigan net. The goal, which was DeRosa’s third of the season, came from a bizarre angle, as both Koudys and DeRosa were nearly perpendicular with the net.
The Lions struck again shortly after that, bringing themselves within a single goal. Eric Scheid passed his career-high from a year ago, as he scored his second of the game and 12th of the season after a true breakaway let him show off some moves in front of the net, putting the puck right between the goalie’s legs, straight through to the back of the net.
Scheid said that he was thinking five-hole the entire time.
"He’s something to watch, and when he’s skating like he’s skating now, he can be incredibly dangerous," Gadowsky said about Scheid
The Nittany Lions had dug themselves a hole, and as usual, were fighting to pull themselves out of it. The score stood at 4-3 with the Lions still trailing, as they shifted the momentum in their own direction.
After a shot from defenseman Connor Varley made its way to the goalie, it deflected off of forward Max Gardiner. All the while, Tommy Olczyk took notice. The former captain has been around the program for years and has learned the tendencies of his teammates, which made a huge difference for the Nittany Lions on this night.
He drifted out to the right of the goal, and when Gardiner had the puck deflect off him, Olczyk was in perfect position to send the puck straight through to the back of the net to tie the game at four. The comeback was complete for the second straight night.
"He has a knack, doesn’t he?" Gadowsky asked about his former captain’s propensity for making big plays.
The coach added that Olczyk’s prior forecheck on the aforementioned play was what set up the goal that followed.
"It was a great goal," the fourth-year coach said. "But he made an even better play before that."
Unfortunately for the Lions, they lost that lead shortly after, when Darren Nowick of Northern Michigan beat Musico with a slap shot. Richard’s tying goal came shortly thereafter.
Koudys was pleased with the team getting the point, but understood that you have to play the cards you’re dealt.
"It’s tough to have to come back, but we should never put ourselves in that situation to begin with," the captain said.
Saturday’s game also doubled as the THON hockey game, which saw a Teddy Bear Toss between the second and third periods. It was a sight to remember, as hundreds of stuffed animals flew through the air for a good cause.
Charity teddy bear toss at the second intermission. https://t.co/8m6yoLxV1S— Ben Jones (@Ben_Jones88) January 24, 2015