Men’s hockey proves to be resilient in weekend series

Story posted January 25, 2015 in Sports, CommRadio by Jack Milewski

Lightning almost struck twice this weekend at Pegula Ice Arena as Penn State nearly came back from two separate three-goal deficits on consecutive nights. The Nittany Lions (12-7-4, 5-2-1 Big Ten) took four of six points from the Northern Michigan Wildcats (9-9-6, 6-8-4 WCHA) as they defeated them 5-4 Friday night and secured a 5-5 tie on Saturday afternoon.

Friday night Penn State drew first blood when Dylan Richard scored just 1:22 into the game on the power play. The Nittany Lions dominated play in the first period, outshooting the Wildcats 21-7, but goaltender Mathias Dahlstrom kept Northern Michigan in the game.

Penn State fell into a similar trap in the second period as they took their foot off the gas, allowing four straight goals and prompting Guy Gadowsky to pull starter Matt Skoff in favor of third-string goalie P.J. Musico.

Casey Bailey got a goal back before the end of the second period to make it 4-2 going into the second intermission.

“That was a big time goal,” said Gadowsky. “Not many guys can score on a one-timer from there.”

Penn State rode the momentum of the late Bailey goal into the third period as they completed the comeback with three goals to secure the 5-4 victory. Richard, David Glen and Scott Conway scored respectively in the third. Musico was also instrumental in the victory, recording 11 saves in his relief effort to secure his first win of the season.

“It feels really good,” said Richard. “Obviously we’re not happy with how the whole game went, but we’re certainly happy about the outcome and our fight.”

After an emotional win Friday, the Nittany Lions had a quick turnaround for an equally emotional game, for different reasons, Saturday. Sporting special one-time jerseys, Penn State took the ice Saturday in support of Thon. The jerseys that the players wore during the game were auctioned off afterwards and all proceeds went towards the fight against pediatric cancer.

After starting off slow the previous night, Northern Michigan was the aggressor Saturday as they potted three first period goals to suck the life out of Pegula Ice Arena, once again prompting Gadowsky to pull his starter, this time Eamon McAdam, in favor of P.J. Musico.

Much like on Friday, the change seemed to spark the Nittany Lions as they outscored Northern Michigan 3-1 during the second period, with two goals by Eric Scheid, to close the gap to within one. Schied, who tallied two assists on Friday, added another assist on Saturday to go along with his two goals.

“Right now he is just playing at a different speed than everyone else, he’s on another level,” said Gadowsky.  “When he’s skating like he is now he’s tough to stop.”

Northern Michigan also had to switch goalies, but for different reasons as Dahlstrom was cut on his hand in the second period and had to miss the rest of that period while getting stiches. However, he did return to play in the third period.

Penn State tied the game up early on in the third on a goal by Tommy Olczyk, but then fell behind shortly after as the Wildcats used a power play goal to once again take the lead. However, propelled by their second line, which outperformed the vaunted first line this weekend, the Nittany Lions once again came back and tied the game as Richard knotted it up 5-5.

“I think we’re all just playing good hockey now,” said Schied. “Me and [Richard] have been injured this season so it’s been good to finally play some games together and practice together and I think we’re finding some chemistry.”

Despite falling behind by three goals in both games, Penn State was able to secure a win and a tie in the series, a result that the Nittany Lions are happy with. Still, moving forward, the team knows that they have to find a way to string together a consistent 60 minutes.

“It’s really tough to come back,” said Patrick Koudys. “It’s obviously nice to come back, but at the same time [falling behind] is something we have to fix.”

The Nittany Lions will take to the ice again next Saturday when they face Vermont at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The puck drop is set for 1 p.m.

Jack Milewski is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email jbm250@psu.edu.