Icers Sweep Oklahoma with Wild Comeback

Story posted February 6, 2012 in Sports, CommRadio by Eric DeBerardinis

Joe Battista, associate athletic director for the hockey program, has seen hundreds of Penn State Icers games in his decades around the team, but never saw quite the finish that transpired on Saturday afternoon.

“One of the best comebacks in the history of this building,” is how Battista described it.

The top -ranked Icers (23-3-1) defeated the ninth-ranked Oklahoma Sooners (21-13-1) by a 4-3 score in overtime, remaining undefeated on home ice this season. For a majority of the game, it looked as though that home winning streak would be unceremoniously snapped. A shutout was even on the horizon for the Icers, after 55 minutes of uninspired play. However, three goals in the final five minutes sent the teams to overtime, where Penn State carried their momentum to cap the amazing comeback.

Penn State defeated Oklahoma handedly on Friday night by a score of 7-2. Nothing would come easy for the Icers on Saturday. Despite back and forth action early on, the first period ended scoreless. There were opportunities and power plays for each team, but both sides failed to capitalize.

After PJ Musico received the start in net on Friday, it was up to Matt Madrazo to help his team complete the two-game sweep. In the second period, Madrazo had a few mishaps, and what he described as bad luck.

Ryan Lee scored for Oklahoma on a breakaway during 4-on-4 hockey, to give his team the first goal for the second consecutive game. Oklahoma’s next goal came shorthanded and in an odd fashion. Madrazo raced nearly to the blue line to clear a dangerous puck, where he collided with a Sooner, causing the puck to shoot into the air.  When it landed, it found the stick of Shane Vorndran, where he tossed it into an open net for the two-goal advantage.

"Bounces haven't been going our way so far," Madrazo said. "Hopefully they are saving up until nationals, when they really mean something."

Oklahoma added yet another goal, seemingly to cement the loss for the lackadaisical Icers.

“All game, things just weren’t working for us,” said Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky.

Despite having a power play unit that usually thrives, the Icers were 0-8 on the power play. They were whistled for twice for too many men on the ice penalties. Chances were there, but for a majority of the game, the Icers performed uncharacteristic to their typical levels.

Never to be counted out though, Penn State started on the comeback trail. Justin Kirchhevel scored on a wrist shot with just five minutes remaining to finally get the Icers on the board.

Still down by two and needing to make a bold move, Gadowsky pulled Madrazo out of net with 4:21 remaining. The gutsy call paid off. Just 26 seconds later, Penn State tallied another goal, cutting the deficit to one.

“Usually coaches wait too long to pull their goalie,” said Battista. “I hired a good coach.”

Nick Holmes played tremendously in net for Oklahoma, minus the waning, clutch moments. He stopped 27 of 31 shots faced, and repeatedly stoned the Icers players, who thought they had surefire goals. Ultimately, Penn State got the best of Holmes.

Kirchhevel scored with just 32 seconds left, sending the game to overtime. George Saad delivered a loose puck into the back of the net a little over two minutes into the extra period, executing the final step to the wild comeback.

“You work hard and you will get rewarded with those types of goals,” said Saad.

The team rushed the ice and sent the crowd into a frenzy, not fully believing what they had just witnessed.

“This is the biggest win and the most memorable,” said Kirchhevel recapping one of the best games of his Icers career.

Just four games remain before the National Tournament begins in March.

Penn State is next in action on Friday when they take on Mercyhurst during Alumni Weekend. Coverage can be heard beginning at 7:00 p.m. on ComRadio.

 

Eric DeBerardinis is a sophomore majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact him, email ejd5136@psu.edu.