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Penn State Hockey Wins Another Wild Comeback, Tops Northern Michigan

The Northern Michigan Wildcats traveled to Pegula Ice Arena on Friday night for a date with the Nittany Lions. The date went sour for the visiting team, as Penn State won in wild comeback fashion, 5-4. In a game between the defensively-gifted Wildcats and offensive powerhouse Nittany Lions, the latter came away leading the two-game series.

How It Happened

About 45 seconds into the game, the Wildcats’ Reed Seckel tripped Scott Conway to give Penn State the early powerplay advantage. Sure enough, Dylan Richard sent the puck home 1:22 into the game.

The two teams followed up the goal by trading penalties. First, NMU found itself on the powerplay, then soon after it was 4-on-4 play. As soon as Penn State’s Zach Saar left the penalty box, the Wildcats took yet another penalty to give their opponents 40 seconds of 5-on-3 time. Neither penalty resulted in a goal, and the period ended with no further drama. The frame was one of the most dominant of the season, as Penn State outshot Northern Michigan 21-7.

After Penn State dictated the latter half of the first period, Northern Michigan displayed its resolve when Barrett Kalb beat Matt Skoff, tying the game 1:41 into the period. Just over two minutes later, both Penn State defensemen chased a Wildcat to the corner, leaving Ryan Kesti all alone in front of Skoff, where he easily retrieved the puck and beat the goalie. Despite trailing 21-12 in shots, Northern Michigan was able to take a 2-1 lead.

The sudden collapse led coach Guy Gadowsky to take his timeout, a move that looked to be fruitful. Penn State held the puck in its offensive zone for about two straight minutes, and dominated play again for the middle of the period. Unfortunately, a blue line turnover sent the Wildcats on a quick breakout that ended in another goal, this time to make the score 3-1.

Skoff’s night ended a few minutes later after a fourth goal went in off of his glove. Backup goalie P.J. Musico took to the ice in relief as his team trailed 4-1.

Penn State was awarded two consecutive powerplays to close out the second period. The first didn’t result in any offense, but with 22 seconds left in the stanza, Casey Bailey blasted one of his trademark one-timers past Wildcat goalie Mathias Dahlstrom to pull PSU within two.

In its third-to-last non-conference matchup, it was clear that Penn State wasn’t going to give up easily. The team took an early penalty in the third period, but it turned out to be just what it needed. Eric Scheid leaped in front of a Wildcat shot from the point and blocked it down the ice, where he directed it on goal, allowing Richard to bury his second of the night and cut the lead to 4-3. Penn State carried play again for the next few minutes, and the effort paid off with about five minutes left in the period. After missing the past few games due to injury, David Glen had a great first two periods in this game. He looked to be due for a goal, and sure enough, he tipped in a shot to tie the game.

Once the fourth and tying goal went in, the question shifted from “can Penn State come back?” to “will Penn State win in regulation or overtime?” Sure enough, the Nittany Lions finished off the Wildcats efficiently. With 2:22 remaining in regulation, Scheid once again got the puck on Dahlstrom’s doorstep, where freshman Scott Conway buried the dagger.

Player of the Game

P.J. Musico. With his team down by two and the starting goalie being chased from the net, things were not looking good for Penn State. If it wanted to mount a comeback, it would have to be on Musico’s back. He turned away all 11 shots he faced, and with Northern Michigan trying desperately to bury its opponent, the senior goalie kept his team alive. “He gave us a spurt… He gave us a huge save out of the gate, and more huge ones later,” Gadowsky said after the game. “We needed him tonight.”

Quote(s) of the Game

“I hope the student body feels proud tonight. We had to ride their wave,” Gadowsky said after the game. His praise was well deserved, as the Roar Zone had another huge showing tonight, and played a huge role in the comeback.

“We know we can come back from down four, we’ve done it before, but that’s playing with fire,” forward Dylan Richard said.

Tweet of the Game

Ain’t nothin’ better than Mamma’s home cookin’.

Takeaways

  • James Franklin brought the upcoming recruiting class to the game. He proceeded to bury a long-range wrist shot during first intermission festivities. Not a bad showing in front of his new players.
  • Penn State, before the game, averaged 3.3 goals for per game and 2.7 goals against, while Northern Michigan’s marks were at 2.1 and 2.0. The Nittany Lions’ style of play was the story of the game, as they outshot the Wildcats 53-30 in a high-scoring affair for both sides.
  • After trailing early in the first game of its last two series, Penn State made a clear effort to get out to an early lead in this game. It did, in fact, hold the 1-0 lead two minutes into the game, but four instances of porous defense coughed it up. Fortunately, the team was able to comeback, but it once again found itself with a huge deficit early.
  • Casey Bailey scored his 17th goal of the season and Taylor Holstrom was kept scoreless, but their line with David Goodwin still dictated play when it saw the ice. Continue voting for them for the Hobey Baker Award here.

What’s Next?

Saturday afternoon, Penn State and Northern Michigan will rematch at 4:30 p.m. It’s the second annual THON Teddy Bear Toss, and the team will also be wearing special THON jerseys that will later be auctioned off for charity.

About the Author

Doug Leeson

Doug is a sophomore and Onward State's Assistant Managing Editor. Dislikes: popcorn, Rutgers, and a low #TimberCount. Likes: "Frozen," Rec Hall, and you. Contact him via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @DougLeeson.

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