STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Penn State scored four unanswered goals to come back and defeat longtime ACHA rival Oklahoma 4-1 on Friday at the Greenberg Ice Pavilion in exhibition play.
The Sooners were not intimidated early on, outshooting the Nittany Lions 14-12 in the first period and generating high-quality scoring chances on P.J. Musico’s net. The sophomore netminder was strong throughout, tallying 31 saves in his first start since Jan. 15.
At the other end, Oklahoma goalie Colin Fernandes was solid, stopping a dozen shots, including a beautiful spread-eagle save on Eric Steinour, who picked up a rebound in the left circle and could not elevate the puck over the diving Sooner netminder.
As they continued to up the ante in offensive zone pressure in the period’s waning moments, the Sooners cracked the stalemate.
Augie Hoffmann feathered a perfect pass from his left point position to Jordan Greenberg at the right post. Greenberg popped the puck past Musico to give the Sooners the 1-0 lead at 19:09, a margin they carried into the intermission.
The Nittany Lions responded to a first period that did not meet team objectives.
At 11:06 of the middle frame, Michael Longo picked up a puck off a kick pass from Jacob Friedman and roofed it glove side past Fernandes to tie the game 1-1.
Sparked on by their energy line, the Nittany Lions quickly vaulted to the lead.
After the puck careened to the left circle, Mark Yanis pinched from his blue line spot to snap it over Fernandes’ arm to give Penn State a 2-1 lead at 16:38.
Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky continued to speak highly of his freshman defenseman.
“[Yanis'] goal was a big-time goal for us,” said Gadowsky. “He’s been vocal and shown a lot of leadership for a young guy.”
Penn State wasted no time adding insurance tallies in the third.
Kenny Brooks got to a puck in the right-wing corner, turned, and flung the puck into the crease and underneath Fernandes to make it 3-1 just 36 seconds into the period.
Taylor Holstrom rounded out the scoring on the power play, going top shelf past a sliding Fernandes at 5:32 of the period to bring the game to its 4-1 final.
Oklahoma coach Peter Arvanitis commended his team’s play through the first half of action, but frankly admitted his team’s lapses cost them against an NCAA opponent.
“We sort of swayed off our game plan,” said Arvanitis. “When you do that against a good team, you pay the price.”
The contest had extra meaning for Sooner forward Bryce Johnson, a transfer from Penn State who played for the Nittany Lions’ ACHA club team in 2011-2012 and the Nittany Lions; NCAA team from September to December. He picked up a minor penalty for elbowing while turning three shots on goal in the loss.
The two teams meet once again on Saturday in the Greenberg Ice Pavilion. It marks the last game Penn State will play inside the Pavilion before making the jump to Pegula Ice Arena in October of 2013.