Two Goals In 16 Seconds Give Penn State Dramatic Win Over Bentley
Men’s hockey treated 5,974 fans at Pegula Ice Arena to a dramatic finish Friday night, scoring two goals 16 seconds apart in the final three minutes to trick Bentley 3-2 on Halloween.
Taylor Holstrom, second in the country with 12 points through seven games, tied the game with 2:59 remaining in the final period. With the crowd buzzing, Eric Scheid picked up the puck in the defensive zone after the faceoff, zoomed down the ice, and threw a shot on net with traffic in front that found twine just 16 seconds later, blowing the roof off of Pegula Ice Arena.
“Jimmy [James Robinson] had a great drive to the middle of the net, took the D with him, and just traffic in front so I figured might as well throw it at the net, and hopefully something good happens,” Scheid said. “And I had it go in.”
While the third period ended in elation, the first two periods were a frustrating affair. After surrendering two power play goals in the opening period, Penn State found themselves having to claw their way out of a frightening hole.
“We certainly didn’t do our best at the start, knowing full well that their powerplay is sixth in the nation,” said coach Guy Gadowsky. “Our game plan was not to give them any power play opportunities, and we gave them two, and it’s 2-0. Things just weren’t clicking.”
But the Nittany Lions (5-1-2) pulled within one goal of the lead after freshman Scott Conway’s goal with 10:46 remaining in the second period, his third goal in the last three games.
In the third period, Penn State sent a barrage of shots to the net, but couldn’t get anything past Bentley’s goalie Brent Dougherty. The Nittany Lions outshot the Falcons (3-4-0) by a factor of three in the final period, but didn’t get on the scoreboard until Holstrom’s goal with just under three minutes to play.
The win was the second come-from-behind victory in as many nights after Penn State entered the series having never bested a team while trailing. In the last two years at the Division 1 level, Penn State has seen their fair share of late leads evaporate into thin air, but it appears this team is poised to be on the winning side of those close games.
“We’ve asked the team to identify if we had some mental toughness issues when we’re up in the third,” said Gadowsky. “And this weekend, we had two opportunities going in down in the third, and I think they came through with flying colors.”
“We’ve been a part of a lot games where we’ve given up leads in the third,” added Scheid, “and it’s been really haunting us lately, so to be able to come back both nights and get a win, it feels pretty good.”
- Penn State has now won four in a row, the longest winning streak in program history against Division 1 competition.
- Matthew Skoff started in goal for the eighth straight game, coming away with yet another victory. Skoff totaled 33 saves, including a crucial save on a Bentley short-handed chance with eight minutes remaining to keep the game tied. Coach Gadowsky said the score might have been 4-0 after the first period if Skoff didn’t stand tall. “When you win in dramatic fashion, [the goalie] won’t be star of the game. But if he wasn’t as sharp as he was, this game would be over in the first.”
- Penn State blocked 16 shots, including a game-high three from defenseman Connor Varley. The Lions were throwing their bodies around, especially late in the game, deflecting shots away from Skoff. “[Blocking shots] is one of the big emphasis we have in every meeting before every game,” said Holstrom.
- Varley had a shot hit his head on a diving block attempt late in the game, and remained down on the ice in pain. He skated to the bench under his own power, and went to the locker room to be examined. “He’s good,” Gadowsky said after the game.
- After six home games, Penn State ranks fifth in the country in average attendance with 5,968 fans, 103 percent of capacity. “For our fans to show this much support for us when we’re not playing Big Ten teams is really impressive, and a huge advantage in our favor,” said Scheid.
- Penn State will have a two-week break before traveling to No. 9 UMass-Lowell for a two-game series at Tsongas Arena on Nov. 14-15. Penn State won’t return to home ice at Pegula until Jan. 9 against Ohio State, but will have a home game every weekend until February 7 after they host the Buckeyes.