The Nittany Lions (13-7-4) scored the final four goals of the game after once again falling into a two-goal deficit. For the third consecutive game, Guy Gadowsky's squad was able to overcome an early let-down. PJ Musico started in net and now is 2-0-1 as the goalie of record for the Lion's past three contests. Musico inherited a pair of three goal deficits while entering the game in relief of Eamon McAdam and Matt Skoff last weekend. Today the goalie held steady after allowing a pair of goals.
The Wells Fargo Center, home of the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers, had a nice crowd of 11,674 cheering fans. The crowd was the fourth-largest to attend a Penn State hockey game in team history. Three of the four games were in Philly at the college hockey face-off. The crowd was heavily in favor of Penn State but there was a clear Vermont presence in the stands. The fans from Burlington, Vermont were mixed into the crowd like yellow and green sprinkles on top of a blue and white cupcake.
The period began with a controlled pace that had Vermont holding an advantage in momentum for the first ten minutes. In the very early going, freshman Scott Conway took a penalty and gave Vermont an extra skater just 32 seconds into the game.
Musico was forced to make a diving save 58 seconds into the game and also had to turn away 4 quality shots while the Catamounts held the man advantage. PSU was able to kill the penalty but the advantage put a spring in their opponent's skates for the minutes after the penalty was killed.
Finally Vermont took a penalty eleven minutes in and PSU was able to grab momentum but not able to score. For the remaining seven minutes of the period the teams skated evenly. The period ended with the teams tied in all measurable terms. Shots on goal was knotted at 12 apiece and the hitting was hard, clean and even as well.
The second period began with Vermont holding an advantage in momentum once again. The teams were skating feverishly from end to end with the Catamounts getting better looks at the net initially. Neither team was able to score but with eleven minutes remaining in the period the Lions were the first to flinch when it took a penalty for too many men on the ice.
The Lions were able to kill the penalty but just a minute later gave up the first goal of the game. Brady Shaw made the game 1-0 with six and a half minutes remaining. A minute and a half later another shot got past Musico as Mario Puskarich scored his eleventh goal of the year. Once again Penn State had found a way to a multiple-goal deficit.
The team immediately responded as Casey Bailey lit the lamp just fourteen seconds later. On a sweet cross-ice pass from Luke Juha, the Hobey Baker award nominee scored for the eighteenth time this season. Taylor Holstrom also got an assist on the play. With five minutes left in the period and down one goal, the mostly Penn State crowd became amplified and so did the play of the Lions on the ice.
With 45 seconds left in the period Casey Bailey was called for an unfortunate two-minute hooking penalty. Vermont was unable to capitalize but as time ran out in the period Penn State was called for a second penalty, this one on freshman Jimmy Robinson. It was another hooking penalty, this time much more flagrant. After the period ended Bailey emerged from the sin bin and spoke with referee Todd Anderson for a couple of minutes. David Thompson finally came back on the ice to usher Bailey out of harm's way as he and Anderson were the only two remaining on the ice during the intermission.
Vermont held the advantage in score, 2-1 and also shots on goal for the period 14-9.
Trailing by a goal and skating against a 5 on 3 disadvantage Penn State did not wither in the face of the challenge. During the penalty Tommy Olczyk nearly tied the game with a short-handed goal. The senior got to goalie Mike Santaguida for a breakaway attempt. The initial shot hit the goalie in the chest and bounced back to Olczyk where he took another shot on goal but was rebuked once again.
The energy that the Lions displayed while killing off both penalties set the tone for the remainder of the game. Just as the penalties expired Vermont took a penalty. Play was contentious for the entire two-minute penalty and finally with less than ten seconds remaining with a man advantage, Scott Conway scored the power-play goal on an assist from Erik Autio and Eric Scheid.
The crowd inside the stadium erupted with the tying goal and did not quiet until the game had been over for more than ten minutes. The teams skated with urgency until with four minutes remaining David Thompson gave the Lions a 3-2 lead on his first career goal. Ricky DeRosa and captain Patrick Koudys were credited with an assist.
With just over a minute remaining David Goodwin scored on an empty net to ice the win 4-2 for his team. Casey Bailey and Patrick Koudys got the assist. The period would end with the Lions holding an 18-9 shot advantage in the frame. For the game it out-shot Vermont 39-35.
The stadium became Pegula-East as the fans initiated a very successful wave and the customary chants that are commonplace in State College. This was a huge win for the program, one that solidifies a very ambitious non-conference schedule. The team took on this very strong Vermont team in Philadelphia. It squared off against Cornell in Madison Square Garden. It stood toe to toe with Robert Morris in Pittsburgh's CONSOL Energy Center. The team split a pair with top-five UMass-Lowell on the road and traveled to Alaska.
Penn State finished the regular-season non-conference schedule with an 8-5-3 record. The footprint of the program has widened while the team was able to collect quality wins along the way.
- Penn State will get back into B1G play next weekend when it hosts Wisconsin for a pair at Pegula Ice Arena.
- PJ Musico made 33 saves in his first start of the year. He extends his record to 2-1-1 on the year with the only loss being late in overtime on a tough no-call trip the led to and Ohio State score.