Penn State Hockey’s Best Games From Its Historic Regular Season
It’s been a long, awesome season for Penn State’s men’s hockey team. Just about every program record for success has been broken, coach Guy Gadowsky was named the conference’s coach of the year, and there were substantially more highs than lows. The Nittany Lions kicked the regular season off with a 2-2 tie with UConn, and wrapped it up with a 6-2 loss to Minnesota and, in between, proved time and time again why it’s the most fun team to watch in college hockey. Here are the 10 best games the 18-14-4 team put together this year, in no particular order.
Oct. 11, 7-1 W vs. UConn: Penn State Beats a Program Record
The second game of the season was one that won’t soon be forgotten. In its third year of Division I play, the most goals that Penn State had scored in one game was six. Thanks to Glen, Scheid, Holstrom, Holstrom again, Goodwin, Milley, and Bailey, this team broke the record very quickly. Later in the season, Penn State would receive its first national ranking, would lead the Big Ten, and would receive its first two Hobey Baker nominees. The team’s first win of the year set the tone for a historic level of success.
Oct. 26, 7-1 W vs. Holy Cross: Penn State Ties The Record
Four games later, the record goal total was matched. Led by Scott Conway’s two goals and two assists, the Nittany Lions again showed flashes of what would go on to be one of the nation’s best offenses.
Nov. 15, 4-1 W at UMass-Lowell: Down Goes No. 4
After losing to the same team 5-3 the night before, Penn State rematched the fourth-ranked team in the nation and came out on top. In the program’s first win over a top-five opponent, Eamon McAdam earned his first win and Penn State’s top line of Goodwin, Holstrom, and Bailey continued to blossom.
Nov. 21, 3-2 W at Michigan: Michigan Lost, Enough Said
Penn State opened up Big Ten play in Ann Arbor and started conference play 1-0. McAdam stopped 38 pucks in the win, and Casey Bailey continued his offensive wizardry. The Wolverines got revenge the next night in an 8-1 trouncing, but the win was a sign of B1G things to come for the young Lion team.
Photo by Morton Lin/Onward State
Jan. 9, 5-4 OT L vs. Ohio State: Casey Bailey, You Are the Man
Some things are just too good to be true. In this game, the Buckeyes led 4-0 at the second intermission, and then Penn State’s top line decided it was sick of how the scoreboard looked. A furious 20 minutes saw a Casey Bailey hat trick, which, along with a goal from David Goodwin, tied the game in what is likely the most exciting period of hockey in Pegula Ice Arena’s short history. The fairytale ended sourly as an uncalled trip let Ohio State’s Anthony Grecco walk in and bury the game winner.
Jan. 10, 4-1 W vs. Ohio State: Payback
After the previous night’s heartbreak, a determined group of Nittany Lions showed their perseverance and earned the series split. The game was tied 1-1 halfway through the second period, but an offensive outburst buried the Buckeyes. McAdam, the only goalie who didn’t play the night before, tallied a .972 save percentage, while Eric Scheid scored two goals to put his team over the top.
Jan. 23, 5-4 W and Jan. 24, 5-5 T vs. Northern Michigan: Comeback Kids
Northern Michigan is no joke of a team, but on consecutive nights in January, Penn State had its way in two separate massive comebacks.
In game one, the Wildcats chased Penn State starter Matt Skoff from the net once they led 4-1. Once P.J. Musico set up in the crease, a fire was lit on his team’s bench. Musico stopped all 11 shots he faced, and four straight goals by the home team created one of the loudest environments Pegula Ice Arena has ever seen.
Desperate for a win the next night, Northern Michigan took to the ice looking to bury the Nittany Lions as soon as possible. Once again, the Wildcats did capitalize early and often. After trailing 3-0 after the first period, McAdam was chased from the net in favor of Musico. Northern Michigan held leads of 3-0, 4-1, and 5-4 in the game, but Penn State never quit. Dylan Richard tied the game at 5-5 with six minutes to play, and neither regulation nor overtime saw any more goals. The game came to a close with no victor, only a great story.
Jan. 31, 3-1 W vs. Vermont: Philadelphia State of Mind
Penn State and No. 14 Vermont met at the Philadelphia Flyers’ Wells Fargo Center on the last day in January, and despite its high-ranking and reputable defense, Vermont would be sent home the loser. The Catamounts took an early 2-0 lead, then the Nittany Lions mounted their fourth significant comeback of the month. Four straight goals, including the game winner by David Thompson, put Penn State over the top in its last nonconference game of the year.
Feb. 21, 4-3 W vs. Minnesota: THON, Buccigross, and Scott Conway
The spotlight was on Penn State during this series. On one side of University Drive, THON was going strong and had just passed its 24-hour mark. On the other, the hockey team was on ESPNU with the always-great John Buccigross on the call. In the second period, freshman Scott Conway scored what was arguably the nicest goal in Penn State history, and ended up in the No. 3 slot on Sportscenter’s Top 10 segment. Regulation came to a close with the Nittany Lions and No. 17 Golden Gophers tied 3-3. A Luke Juha powerplay goal gave Penn State a thrilling overtime win and started what would be a very successful night for his team.
There we have it. Big Ten Coach of the Year Gadowsky’s team was consistently great this year and has the results to prove it. With the Big Ten Tournament kicking off this Thursday against Ohio State, let’s hope that this list will be longer by the end of the week.