Penn State Hockey Upsets RIT, Splits Weekend Games
The Penn State Men’s Hockey team is an even 2-2-0 after their second weekend of Division 1 play. The Nittany Lions played two away games this weekend, traveling to New York to face both the the Buffalo State Bengals and the Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers.
On Friday night, the Nittany Lions fell 3-0 against Buffalo State. The teams totaled 29 penalties during the game, with the Bengals capitalizing on the man advantage three times. Penn State’s power play unit was at the other end of the spectrum, finishing the game 0-for-9 and failing to get the puck past Buffalo State netminder Kevin Carr, who saw 35 Nittany Lions shots come his way.
Penn State surrendered the first score late in the first period with just 3:28 remaining. Buffalo State’s Nick Melligan took a wrister from the blue line that deflected off of a Penn State defensemen and past freshman goalie Matthew Skoff, who made 23 saves in the game. Despite 19 shots from the Nittany Lions in the first period, the score was 1-0 Buffalo State when the horn sounded.
The game did not stay close for long. With 15:05 left in the second period, Buffalo State was able to net their second power play goal. Mike Zannella took a slapshot from the top of the left faceoff circle that found the twine to put the Bengals up 2-0. Just minutes later, Buffalo State’s Jason Cleaver hit Trevor McKinney with a pass on the right wing for a shot on goal to extend the lead to 3-0, which went on to be the final score in Penn State’s third ever Division 1 matchup.
Despite the loss, the Nittany Lions had a shot for redemption on Saturday, as they faced the Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers, a team that made it to the Frozen Four in 2010. In front of a sellout crowd of 10,556, Penn State upset RIT 3-2 to even their record and put a big notch on their belt with their first very impressive win since starting their Division 1 schedule.
Freshman forward Curtis Loik scored in the first period to put the Nittany Lions ahead 1-0. A Kenny Brooks backhand shot resulted in a loose puck behind the net. David Glen gained control of the puck and found Loik open in front of the net for an easy glove-side score.
RIT knotted up the score early in the second, before freshman forward Casey Bailey again put the underdog Penn State squad ahead just six minutes later. Junior forward Mike McDonagh sent a chip-pass to Max Gardiner, who found Bailey on the bottom of the left faceoff circle. He fired a shot that bounced off of RIT goalie Josh Watson, but Bailey stayed with the play and put the rebound in the net for a 2-1 lead.
With 13:03 left in the third period and the score still 2-1, Penn State freshman Jonathan Milley dove for a loose puck in the left circle that ended up on the stick of defenseman Joseph Lordo. He took a shot on goal that got deflected in traffic in front of the net, but Gardiner was in position to control the rebound, spin around, and put the puck between Josh Watson’s legs for a power-play goal that put the Nittany Lions ahead 3-1.
RIT’s Jeff Smith made things interesting with a late goal that made the score 3-2 with just over five minutes remaining in the contest, putting a rebound by Penn State’s P.J. Musico. A major penalty soon after gave RIT a good chance to force overtime as they would have a man advantage for the final 4:13 of the game. They managed nine shots in Penn State’s defensive zone, but Musico (40 saves) was on fire Saturday night and he held strong in net to close out the upset victory on the road and get the Nittany Lions to an even 2-2-0 record.
The Nittany Lions return to action next Friday and Saturday where they will play at Army and Sacred Heart.