ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Penn State goaltender P.J. Musico made 40 saves to lead the Nittany Lions to a 3-2 win over Rochester Institute of Technology in front of a sellout crowd of 10,556 at Rochester’s Blue Cross Arena.
Max Gardiner had a goal and an assist, including what proved to be the game-winner on the power play at 6:53 of the third.
RIT outshot Penn State 42-22 including 20-5 in the third period, but failed to capitalize on several opportunities, including a major power play for the final 4:13 of the game.
“This was an important win for us, because we had such a poor night last night,” said Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky.
The Nittany Lions lost 3-0 at Division III Buffalo State on Friday.
“We were not proud of ourselves for the way we played last night,” added Gadowsky. “It was much different tonight.”
RIT dominated the early part of the contest, especially on their first power-play attempt 6:22 into the game., but Musico was able to stop three good scoring opportunities and the momentum swung towards Penn State.
“We looked lost for a lot of the first two periods,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “At the beginning of the game, we had a lot of opportunities, but after that, I thought we were too cute, getting the puck up and down the ice, but not with any urgency.”
Penn State got the first goal of the game with just 10 seconds left in the first period. Kenny Brooks’ shot was stopped by RIT goalie Josh Watson, but David Glen poked it away before Watson could cover it, and put a centering pass onto the stick of Curtis Loik, who quickly deposited the puck into the far side of the net to make it 1-0 Penn State.
RIT would again play well early in the second period and were rewarded when Ben Lynch tied the score at 1:59. Adam Mitchell delivered a check in the far corner to steal the puck and found Lynch all alone in the slot.
The momentum swung back to Penn State and the Nittany Lions took advantage of an RIT turnover that left Casey Bailey alone at the near side. His second attempt beat Watson to make it 2-1 Penn State.
Shots on goal for two periods were 22-17 in favor of RIT.
The Nittany Lions got the eventual game-winner on just one of their five shots on net in the third period. On the power play, a blocked shot found the stick of Gardiner, who put a turnaround shot past Watson at 6:53.
RIT then took control of play, putting 20 shots on net in the final period. At 14:50, Jeff Smith crashed the net, putting a rebound past Musico and bringing the large crowd to life.
When George Saad was ejected for a hit from behind on RIT’s Anthony Hamburg, the Tigers got a major power-play opportunity for the final 4:13, but were unable to solve Musico, despite pulling Watson for an extra attacker with 1:25 to play.
Penn State was only able to clear its zone twice in the final four minutes, but Musico was able to freeze the puck time and time again.
“He was fantastic tonight,” said Gadowsky of his goaltender. “He made some huge saves for us. Not many looked like highlight reel saves, but they were really difficult ones. I thought he tracked the puck really well.”
“We can’t let how they play dictate how we play,” said Wilson on Penn State’s better effort against his team than it delivered the night before at Buffalo State.
“That was a wake up call for them. This was a wake up call for us.”