STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — The United States National Under-18 Team earned revenge from last night’s loss by defeating Penn State 3-0 at the Greenberg Ice Pavilion.
It wasn’t easy, however.
The Nittany Lions did themselves no favors in the first period, falling shorthanded to the Americans five times, including one five-on-three disadvantage. The American power play was not stellar, but when they produced chances, Penn State netminder P.J. Musico had the answers, finishing the first period with 19 saves.
Both teams continued the back-and-forth stalemate in the second period. U.S. forward and Michigan recruit J.T. Compher missed a wide-open net in tight and countless other chances at both ends of the rink went unfinished.
Late in the second, the Americans finally broke into the score sheet.
After pulling the puck off the boards, Kevin Labanc (Notre Dame) spotted Sean Malone in the left circle near the post and the future Harvard product tapped it home to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead at 18:15.
As the game continued to open up, the Nittany Lions kept firing pucks at American goaltender Thatcher Demko. However, the Boston College commit was stellar, stopping all 15 Nittany Lion offerings in the second.
The development team’s head coach, Don Granato, was pleased with his goaltender’s performance, especially after receiving an early-morning text message from Demko (23 saves) saying he was ready to win.
“He’s as fierce a competitor as any guy you’ll see out there,” said Granato.
Penn State, already playing with just five defensemen, also lost one of their forwards as Taylor Holstrom received a 10-minute misconduct and a game misconduct for verbal abuse of officials halfway through the second.
Despite their shorthanded lineup, the Nittany Lions remained confident and competitive into the third period. Granato sensed the challenge on the opposing bench.
“We needed to change our mindset [from last night],” said Granato. “They’re a hard team to play against.”
The Americans held steady in the defensive zone and eventually answered the call at the offensive end to clinch the victory. At 16:31, Shane Eiserman (New Hampshire) drove down the left side on a two-on-one. Western Michigan recruit Michael McCarron filled the lane in the slot, received the pass and roofed it over Musico’s shoulder to make it 2-0.
After Penn State’s last-ditch efforts went for naught, Evan Allen (Michigan) put the puck the puck into the empty net to seal the 3-0 win.
Musico finished with 41 saves.
Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky was pleased with his team’s split against a team that had defeated Michigan just a week earlier.
“We’re going in the right direction; there’s a lot of positives you can take out of it,” said Gadowsky. “We’ve had some issues where we thought we could be more mentally tough, but to kill five [power plays] in the first period was fantastic.”
Penn State captain Tommy Olczyk admitted the team received a confidence boost with the split, but the slow start and defeat left a bitter taste in his mouth.
“We want to start having better first periods,” said Olczyk. “We knew we had a good chance to win, but overall, we just didn’t get the job done.”