STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Union may have beaten Penn State 4-3, but the No. 15-ranked Dutchmen avoided disaster after the Nittany Lions scored three goals to tie the game late.
That wasn’t the only drama of the game, though.
After playing almost 40 minutes of hockey, the Lions were still looking for a spark.
After receiving a power play with under a minute left in the second period, freshman Eric Scheid took it himself and drove the puck to the front of the net and poked it past Union goalie Colin Stevens.
“When you look at climbing a hill, two is a lot easier than three,” Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said. “It gave us life and made the hill look a little smaller.”
Trailing by two to start the third period, the Lions still needed a moment to turn the tide towards them. The momentum booster came when goalie Matt Skoff made a highlight-reel save after losing his stick on the play.
Not long after the save, Patrick Koudys scored his first Penn State goal at 7:13 of the third after he quickly snapped a shot through traffic and past Stevens’ glove.
With a united crowd behind them, the Nittany Lions rode the momentum to the game-tying goal by Kenny Brooks. With the puck pinned along the boards, Taylor Holstrom won the battle and fed it to Brooks, who was waiting for it in front. It was his first goal of the season and came at 10:21 of the third period.
Brooks said he was going to head to the bench for a line change, but he saw an opening in front of the net and positioned himself to put the puck on net if Holstrom was able to get it to him.
With a rejuvenated crowd at the Pegula Ice Arena, there was a sense that the Lions may pull off the comeback.
However, the next goal came for Union less then three minutes later when Max Novak found himself wide-open in the slot and snapped a shot past Skoff’s ear to give the Dutchmen the lead for good.
It turned out to be the early goals that left Penn State to chase the Dutchmen for the remainder of the game.
“If we would have started playing that well in the first, then we wouldn’t have to worry about that,” Brooks said.
Kevin Sullivan opened up his account for the season at 11:11 of the first period when his shot snuck through Skoff’s five-hole.
The Dutchmen continued to put pressure on Penn State, but couldn’t find the net again until 1:18 of the second period when Jeff Taylor ripped a slapper from the point that ended up taking a deflection that Skoff couldn’t stop.
Daniel Ciampini scored a goal of his own after a beautiful display of skill. After taking a wrist shot while on a rush, Ciampini was able to backhand the rebound in between his legs and Skoff’s with his back towards the cage. It gave the Dutchmen a commanding three-goal lead that was squandered by the three unanswered goals.
Union, who did not make team personnel available for comment afterwards, also ended the game on top in shots on goal by a 34-32 margin.
For Penn State though, the focus for the second leg of the weekend series with the Dutchmen was clear.
“We’ve got to play a full 60 [minutes] and tomorrow, that’s what we’re planning on doing,” Koudys said.