STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — The Penn State Nittany Lions came back from a 3-2 third-period deficit to defeat the Ohio Bobcats of the ACHA 5-3 at the Greenberg Ice Pavilion Saturday night.
Penn State completed the weekend sweep after dispatching the Bobcats 6-1 on Friday at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa.
For the second straight night, the Bobcats were the first team to capitalize on the score sheet. Derek Rahme found a seam in the middle of the ice off a Penn State turnover and slid the puck through Matthew Skoff’s five-hole on a breakaway at 1:51 of the first.
The Nittany Lions responded just 32 seconds later, as Casey Bailey found open space on the left wing side, stopped and ripped a slap shot past Ohio goalie Fedor Dushkin to tie the game 1-1 at 2:23.
The offensive exploits continued in the game’s early moments as the Nittany Lion forecheck went to work.
George Saad parked himself at the left post and picked a puck from the end boards off a Peter Sweetland shot and tucked it into the yawning net to make it 2-1 at 5:14.
After taking the lead, the Nittany Lions kept up the pressure and in the process earned a five-on-three advantage. However, Dushkin and the Bobcats killed off the Nittany Lions’ best chances, including some help from the crossbar on a Bailey blast.
The game’s pace and scoring settled down after the early fire wagon action, with Penn State registering 15 total shots to Ohio’s 14 in the first period.
Less than two minutes into the second, the Bobcats evened the score on the power play. After Tommy Olczyk went off for holding, the Bobcats set up quickly and Tyler Pilmore located a rebound in a crowded crease to tie the game 2-2 at 1:53.
As the middle stanza continued, the rough stuff began commencing as each team received penalties for physicality near the crease. Bailey took a delay-of-game minor for a spearing incident, while Zander Dover was called for goalie interference for barreling over Skoff.
The back-and-forth scoring chance bonanza carried on just as evenly as the physicality, as the teams combined for 59 shots on goal through 40 minutes.
As the final period commenced, Ohio capitalized early for the third straight frame. Just 38 seconds into the period and after a penalty to Jonathan Gulch expired, Brett Agnew jumped off the bench and scored on a breakaway to the glove side of Skoff to make it 3-2.
Trailing on home ice in the final period, Penn State kept clawing on the offensive end and eventually broke through to tie the game with crease traffic. At 9:27, Penn State worked the puck back to Sweetland at the right point. The sophomore defenseman then took a wrist shot through traffic and past a screened Dushkin to tie the game 3-3.
A reunited Nittany Lion forward line then rode the momentum of the tying goal to the winning tally. Curtis Loik located the puck behind the net off a pass from David Glen and beat Dushkin to the post on a backhand wraparound. The freshman’s finish at 15:06 completed the weekend sweep.
Bailey would add the exclamation point with his second goal into an empty net at 19:13.
Ohio coach Dan Morris, while being pleased with his team’s performance, admitted the wheels came off in the later stages.
“After 50 minutes of hockey, we just hit a wall,” said Morris. “We ran out of gas and the result came from that.”
Despite the comeback, Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky was not completely thrilled with the game’s flow. Penn State lost a game earlier in the season to Arizona State, another ACHA opponent, and he has been adamant about wanting his team to become mentally tough.
“We’ve got to learn [how to be ready to play],” said Gadowsky. “It shouldn’t matter where you are and who you play. If you have that Nittany Lion on your chest, that trumps everything.”