Penn State Hockey Drops 4-3 Heartbreaker To No. 15 Union
The Penn State men’s hockey team, in its second Division I season, is still an inexperienced team that continues to grow. The Nittany Lions have only been recruiting at a Division I level for two years, while continually adding perennial powerhouses to their schedule along the way.
While playing tough teams helps the players develop and become more well-rounded, giving them a taste of what’s to come in the future, there are certainly growing pains involved as such a raw program takes on established teams. That sentiment was very clear last night as the Nittany Lions lost a close 4-3 game to No. 15 Union.
Penn State fell behind early in the game as Union scored the only goal of the first period. Kevin Sullivan took a pass from teammate Matt Wilkins and squeaked the puck past Penn State goaltender Matthew Skoff’s left pad. The Nittany Lions couldn’t get any offense generated in the period, tallying just six shots on goal.
In the second period, Union took what appeared to be a commanding lead when they added two more goals to go up 3-0. Jeff Taylor and Daniel Ciampini both scored for the Dutchmen.
However, just as time was about to expire on the second period, Penn State showed its first signs of life as Eric Scheid scored a power play goal at 19:37. The unassisted, breakaway goal gave Penn State a much-needed momentum swing going into the intermission.
“When you look at climbing a hill, two is a lot easier than three,” coach Guy Gadowsky said after the game. “It gave us a little bit of life, and made the hill look a lot smaller.”
With momentum on their side, and the fans on their feet at the Pegula Ice Arena, defenseman Patrick Koudys brought the Nittany Lions within one as his wrist shot flew past the Union goaltender’s right shoulder at 7:13. Kenny Brooks tied the game just three minutes later when he received a beautiful pass from Taylor Holmstrom and one-timed the puck past the goaltender’s glove.
Union had an answer for Penn State’s surge, and scored at the 13:10 mark to go ahead 4-3. Penn State pulled Skoff in favor of an extra attacker, but couldn’t tie the game, and fell to the Dutchmen 4-3.
While the first 38 minutes were certainly not Penn State’s best, the last 22 minutes of the game left Gadowsky encouraged by his team’s progress.
“[We’re missing] experience. It’s not just a thing that can happen, I think you have to learn to win games like that,” Gadowsky said. “This is our second year, and we have a lot of growing to do, but I’m proud that we were able to come back against a very tough team.”
With the loss, Penn State falls to 3-6-1 on the year. The Nittany Lions will finish their two-game series with Union on Sunday night at 7 p.m. at Pegula.
- Three stars — 3rd star: Max Novak (Union) – 1 goal on 3 shots. 2nd star: Patrick Koudys (PSU) – 1 goal on 2 shots. 1st star: Daniel Ciampini (Union) – 1 PP goal on 4 shots, one assist.
- Quick stats — Shots: Union 34, Penn State 32. Saves: Union 29, Penn State 30. Faceoffs: Union 24, Penn State 47. Penalties: Union 4, Penn State 6.
- Curtis Loik left the game with an injury just two minutes into the first period. Union’s Charlie Vasaturo checked Loik into the boards and drew a boarding call, and Loik immediately left the ice holding his arm. Loik’s status is unknown for the series finale on Sunday night.