STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Penn State closed out its first season in the Pegula Ice Arena the same way it opened it — a winner, beating Ohio State, 4-2.
The Nittany Lions scored first when Nate Jensen ripped a shot that snuck below the blocker of OSU goaltender Matt Tomkins. The power-play goal at 2:51 of the first period was Jensen’s third of the season.
Curtis Loik proceeded to give Penn State a two-goal lead when he refused to give up on the play near the Buckeyes goal. The sophomore swiped at the puck after a rebound and was rewarded with his sixth goal of the season at 6:59 of the first period.
The Buckeyes cut the lead in half on a four-on-three power-play opportunity and plenty of open ice when Chris Gedig connected on a one-timer with Tanner Fritz at 9:44 of the first period. It was Gedig’s second of the year.
With the puck near the half wall, Tommy Olczyk put Penn State back up by two with just over a minute left in the first period. The Nittany Lions captain took a wrist shot that snuck its way past Tomkins.
Ohio State stayed in the game with Anthony Greco’s fourth of the season at 3:25 of the second period, bringing the Buckeyes back within one. Greco capitalized on a rebound left by Penn State netminder Matthew Skoff.
“We played a smarter game, [but] we didn’t play a full 60,” Gadowsky said.
Penn State went back up by two on a slap shot from Jensen that was redirected past Tomkins at 6:55 by Taylor Holstrom, his seventh of the season.
The Nittany Lions held on for the remainder of the game, despite urgency from OSU.
“They are a very good program,” Ohio State coach Steve Rohlik said, while adding that he wasn’t surprised by the game’s outcome.
With an empty Ohio State net, Penn State tried to get its lone senior, Mike McDonagh, a goal. The Wilmington, Mass., native is the last member of the ACHA club team still with the program. All attempts to get him the puck came up empty. There was also another problem.
“I was dead,” McDonagh said. “I couldn’t breathe. I wanted off, but they wouldn’t let me.”
McDonagh finishes the regular season without a point in 13 games after scoring the first empty-net goal in the program’s history and six assists last year.
There were also signs of a brewing rivalry between the two schools with time winding down. With 16 seconds left, Skoff stopped a shot that led to a scrum that resulted in 16 of the game’s 32 penalty minutes.
Rohlik said that a rivalry will grow with time.