MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Penn State overcame a sluggish first period and a huge night from Robert Morris forward Cody Wydo to take a 5-4 road victory at 84 Lumber Arena Friday night in front of a near record-setting crowd.
Penn State defenseman Mike Williamson’s power-play tally in the waning minutes of the third period proved to be the game-winner for the Nittany Lions, who notched their second win of the season.
“I felt we didn’t play a good first period at all, we just weren’t ready to play at their pace,” said Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky. “The guys regrouped and came back, though, and after that big goal from [Eric] Schied, things started going our way. I felt bad for [Matthew] Skoff when we gave up that late third-period goal. He really battled hard, so I’m glad we got the win for him. We still have a lot of work to do and we’re not totally pleased. We needed a win tonight and Robert Morris is a very good team, so it’s a confidence boost for sure.”
From the drop of the puck, it looked as if the Colonials were ready to put their five-game winless streak to an end as Wydo opened the scoring at 5:19 on a power-play goal with assists from Zac Lynch and Tyson Wilson.
Robert Morris jumped out to a 19-8 shot advantage through the game’s first 20 minutes and Skoff had to make several crucial saves to keep his team from going into a deep hole.
However, it was a different Penn State team in the second frame. The Nittany Lions found another level of play where they were capable of forcing Colonial turnovers while at the same time applying a tenacious back check that kept Robert Morris from sustaining any consistent offensive pressure.
Penn State got on the board at the 2:01 mark of the second on a play that started in their own end with a faceoff win. Scheid took the puck from end to end as a two-on-one developed over the Colonial blue line and if he had even thought about a pass on the play, he kept it to himself as he unleashed a hard shot from the right circle that beat Robert Morris goaltender Terry Shafer to tie the game.
Penn State rattled off the next two markers, the first coming form Luke Juha on the power play at 8:44 with assists coming from David Goodwin and Dylan Richard and then captain Tommy Olcyzk beat Shafer from the slot at 9:53 for his second goal of the season.
The Colonials climbed back into the game late in the period with Wydo’s second goal that came from a wild goalmouth scramble at 18:12.
In the opening minutes of the third, Wydo was the recipient of a penalty shot which he buried through the wickets of Skoff to tie it up at three apiece.
The new-found momentum from the game-tying goal was short-lived as the Colonials took costly penalties that Penn State capitalized on.
Casey Bailey’s power-play goal at 5:10 and a defensive effort that created plenty of tipped passes and blocked shots helped keep Penn State in the driver’s seat the rest of the way.
With the last two minutes of play looming and the Colonials in desperate need of the tying goal, Wilson was whistled for high sticking and less than five seconds later, Williamson found a puck in the slot which he sent past Shafer for the game-winning goal.
Wydo closed out his four-goal night at 19:48 with the extra attacker, but it was too little, too late for the Colonials, who will have to wait another week to attempt to collect their first win of the season.
“If we’re going to take as many penalties as we are, our penalty kill has got to be better,” said Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley. “Our focus for 60 minutes is not very good and for us to turn this season around, we’re going to have to play 60 minutes. We played well in spurts, but we also turned pucks over and lost faceoffs at critical times. We wasted a great outing from Cody Wydo tonight.”