PSU Hockey Loses First D-1 Game in Overtime
The Penn State Nittany Lions hockey team has officially begun Division 1 play, losing to American International College 3-2 with just 21 seconds left in overtime last night at the Greenberg Ice Pavilion.
Penn State outshot AIC by a wide margin, putting 63 pucks on goal to just 29 from the Yellow Jackets, but the Lions only managed to get two past senior goalie Ben Meisner who finished the night with a whopping .968 save percentage.
Penn State freshman defenseman Mark Yanis was called for a roughing penalty at just 2:25 in the first period. Just 18 seconds later, AIC forward Nathan Sliwinski netted the first goal of the game to give the visiting team an early advantage. Despite 20 first period shots, Penn State was unsuccessful in scoring until four minutes into the second when freshman forward Casey Bailey knotted the score at 1-1.
The goal was shortly followed by a boarding penalty by Penn State junior forward Justin Kirchhevel that was killed off. At the 9:08 mark in the second period, offsetting roughing penalties led to a 4-on-4 in which Yellow Jackets defensemen Chris Markiewicz was able to score to bring his team ahead 2-1. An AIC elbowing penalty late in the second gave Penn State a good chance to tie up the score before heading into the final frame, but they managed just two shots on goal with the man advantage.
With just six minutes remaining in the game, the score still 2-1, Penn State junior forward Taylor Holstrom took an assist from Yanis and netted a puck to knot the score up again. Yellow Jackets forward Jon Puskar was called for tripping three minutes later. Penn State suddenly had a man advantage with time winding down in the third period, but the power play was unsuccessful as the Nittany Lions got just one shot on goal. Soon after, regulation came to a close and a five-minute 5-on-5 overtime period began.
The two teams exchanged rushes as overtime began, putting shots on net in hopes of scoring that “golden goal” and walking away with a victory in what was a season opener for both squads. At one point, Penn State showed great puck control in the offensive zone, taking one shot after another, but Meisner was a brick wall last night. He was not going to go down without a fight. With under a minute left on the clock, it was looking as though the game would end in a tie, but AIC forward Jon Puskar shocked the home crowd when he netted the game winner with just 21 seconds remaining in the tilt.
Despite a stunning overtime loss, Penn State head coach Guy Gadowksy could not have been happier following the game.
“I’m thrilled right now,” Gadowsky said. “I thought we played great. We had no idea if we would be completely outmatched. I thought we generated a ton of offense. Having 20 shots a period is fantastic. I love the offense that we created and I love the student section. That’s why I came here. It’s hard to say why I feel so good after an overtime loss but right now I’m thrilled.”
Gadowksy was not the only one that loved the crowd. Meisner called it “one of the best atmospheres I’ve ever played in” and said that the Penn State crowd certainly didn’t disappoint. Bailey loved the home crowd as well. “The fans are unbelievable,” he said. “There were some pretty awesome chants going the whole game. I had hoped that they were going to stand all game like they do for football, so that was really cool.”
Despite the loss, Gadowsky and this Penn State team have a lot to be happy about. They generated a ton of offense in their first Division-1 game. They played tough hockey, protecting the puck on the offense and putting a lot of pressure on the Yellow Jackets on the forecheck. It is not often that a hockey team walks (or skates) off the ice with a 34-shot differential in their favor and over 60 shots on goal with a loss, but the statistics are encouraging for what should be an extremely exciting and historical season for this Penn State hockey team.
The Nittany Lions and the AIC Yellow Jackets face off again tonight, with the puckdrop at 7:05 in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.