STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Once again, a powerhouse program made its first trip to a sold-out Pegula Ice Arena and beat Penn State.
This time, it was No. 2 Boston College topping the Nittany Lions by a 3-2 mark.
With the win, the Eagles (18-4-3) now have an 11-game unbeaten streak.
Boston College survived getting outshot by the Nittany Lions in two of the three periods.
Freshman Thatcher Demko made the difference as the former USA Hockey National Development Team goaltender stopped 33 shots from the blue and white.
Penn State still outshot Boston College by 35-30 margin.
“Penn State has made marked improvements since we saw them in December,” BC coach Jerry York said, referring to his team’s 8-2 win in last month’s Three Rivers Classic championship game. “They are so close. They are big and physical and play tough hockey.”
It initially looked like the Lions could handle the Eagles. It took more than seven minutes for the Eagles to register on a shot on goal in the first period.
Just a handful of seconds later, the second shot found the net. Kevin Hayes notched his 18th tally of the year at 7:40 of the first period after an initial shot from Bill Arnold, who was credited with an assist. Johnny Gaudreau also extended his point-scoring streak to 20 games with an assist on the goal.
However, as the period wore on, the Boston College goal appeared to only be a blip on the radar. The Lions outshot the Eagles 11-7 in the opening period.
Penn State evened the score when Eric Scheid refused to give up on a loose puck. Demko stopped Mike Williamson’s initial shot, but Scheid was there to take a shot of his own on the rebound at 6:45 of the second period. The goal was Scheid’s 10th of the season.
Once again, momentum was back on the Nittany Lions’ side, but another Boston College goal quelled it.
While skating four-on-four, Gaudreau created a turnover and after give-and-go with Arnold, the nation’s leading scorer, added his 22nd goal at 16:04 of the second period.
Just like in the first period, the Lions outshot the Eagles 13-10.
At 4:28 of the final stanza, Penn State put itself in a vice when Jonathan Milley slammed Steve Santini into the boards. Milley was given a five-minute major for boarding, but was not given a game misconduct.
It didn’t take long for Boston College to take advantage of the extended power play. At 4:59, Hayes added his second goal of the game.
Minutes later, Tommy Olczyk found himself on a breakaway, but the Nittany Lions’ captain was pulled down from behind and awarded a penalty shot. The crowd rose to their feet as Olczyk tried put his team right back within a goal, but Demko closed his pads on the five-hole attempt.
The energy inside the building didn’t go anywhere. With the crowd of 6,214 still in it, Taylor Holstrom scored a shorthanded goal on a two-on-one break at 6:58. Holstrom’s shot just sailed high of Demko’s reaching glove, but low enough to light the lamp.
Once again, the combination of Gaudreau and Hayes proved to be a nuisance for opponents. Nittany Lions’ goaltender Eamon McAdam got the better end of the deal as he denied Gaudreau from point-blank-range later in the period.
With the extra attacker on, Penn State couldn’t punch the puck through Demko, who was shaken up after a scrum in front his net. Demko stayed in the game and held off the final wave of artillery.
The third period was the only period in which the Eagles were able to outshoot the Lions, 13-11.
“We are proud of certain aspects of the game tonight, but I am disappointed that we took a five-minute major in a one-goal game,” PSU coach Guy Gadowsky said. “We need to learn the lessons if we want to get over the hump.”
Even though Boston College survived the scare, York echoed other coaches who have brought their teams to the Pegula Ice Arena.
“They’ve got something special going,” York said. “It’s a great environment.”