STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Penn State was able to do what it wanted — burst out of the starting gate — but it still wasn’t enough to beat No. 15 Union.
Daniel Ciampini’s goal with three seconds remaining was the difference as the Dutchmen completed a sweep with a 5-4 victory on Sunday.
With less than 10 seconds remaining, Ciampini came up with the puck in the neutral zone and skated past two Penn State defensemen and deked past a sprawling Eamon McAdam. The puck bounced up and over McAdam’s poke check attempt and stayed with Ciampini, who tapped it in.
The final three seconds of the game was the only time the Dutchmen had the lead.
“I didn’t even know how much time was left,” Ciampini said. “I think I just made a move to try to get to the net.”
Union improved to 8-3-2 by rallying from a 4-1 second-period deficit. Penn State fell to 3-7-1.
The second game of the weekend series started 15 minutes later than the 7 p.m. scheduled time due to a fire alarm that went off approximately 40 minutes before the opening faceoff. The building was evacuated but everyone was allowed back in less than 10 minutes after the alarm sounded.
Union’s penalty kill woes continued when goalie Colin Stevens left a rebound on the tape of Zach Saar’s stick. The freshman’s first college goal came at 3:08 of the first period.
The Nittany Lions capitalized on their second power play as well when Luke Juha scored his fourth goal of the season after a snap shot from the point sailed over Stevens’ blocker.
“The penalty kill can be a comedy of errors,” Union coach Rick Bennett said. “When you’re not plugged in, you’re not blocking shots [and] there’s two strikes against you. Third strike, it’s in the back of your net.”
After Mike Vecchione got Union on the board with a power-play goal in the second period, the Nittany Lions got their third goal of the game when Eric Scheid redirected a shot from the point for his team-high sixth goal of the season.
Penn State made it 4-1 while short-handed. David Glen centered the puck with a blind pass but it bounced off a Union skate and changed direction. Stevens didn’t see it in time, and it snuck behind him for Glen’s first goal of the season.
That ended the night for Stevens (eight saves), who was replaced by Alex Sakellaropoulos (11 saves).
The goalie change worked for Union. Penn State looked like it was about to cruise through the rest of the second period but two costly penalties kept the Dutchmen within striking distance.
As a result, Shayne Gostisbehere scored two power-play goals to pull Union within one heading into the second intermission.
The first came after a five-on-three advantage expired at 12:48; the second came at 15:54 of the second period.
Once the Dutchmen got within one goal, Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said his team tightened up and got nervous in the third period despite a feeling of being one goal away from putting the game away.
“In the third [it became] a more free-flowing game and we got tight,” Gadowsky said. “We stopped making plays and [started] making individual plays and they took it to us in the third period. It’s not one play at the end by one individual that cost the game by any means. No way.”
Gadowsky said that his team’s lack of experience results in lack of maturity, but losing a game in the final seconds will make the team more mature in the long run.
Ciampini, who also scored Saturday and assisted on Max Novak’s winning goal after Penn State rallied from a 3-0 deficit to tie, said the Dutchmen didn’t underestimate the Nittany Lions on Sunday.
“I think yesterday we fell into a trap where we didn’t respect them as a team or as much as we should have,” Ciampini said. “That’s one hell of a hockey team over there.”