ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The Lions found themselves in a similar situation Saturday night — up by two goals with under 10 minutes to go. It would have been a reenactment of last Saturday’s third period if Rochester Institute of Technology could score two goals to force overtime.
The Tigers kept the possibility of alive week when Jeff Smith put one past sophomore goalie P.J. Musico at 14:50 of the third period.
Shortly after the goal, senior forward George Saad was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for checking from behind at 15:47 of the period. That meant the Lions would have to hold onto the lead for the remainder of the period.
After several close chances throughout the man advantage, the crowd came to its feet and got even louder in the final minute, but Musico was able to keep the puck out the net to seal the 3-2 victory.
“I saw the penalty and I just tried to keep my head in the game,” Musico said. “I knew the guys would have my back also and it all worked out in the end.”
Just 24 hours after getting stunned in a shutout loss against a Division III opponent (Buffalo State), the Penn State men’s hockey team pulled the upset against RIT in front of a loud, sold out crowd of 10,556 at Blue Cross Arena.
Musico made an impressive 40 saves despite attempts to create traffic in front of the net.
“He made highlight reel saves,” head coach Guy Gadowsky said. “His biggest saves [may not] have looked like much, but he tracked the puck really well.”
Both teams appeared to have equal chances in the first period and for the fourth straight game, the Nittany Lions outshot their opponents in the first period.
The game appeared to be heading into the first intermission scoreless.
However, freshman forward Curtis Loik scored his first career goal after freshman forward David Glen threw the puck in front of the net that ended up on Loik’s stick for an easy goal.
Gadowsky praised the line that includes Loik, Glen and freshman forward Kenny Brooks.
“They don’t need to score goals to be great,” Gadowsky said. “It was a tough fought period and to score like they did was huge for us.”
Penn State took the lead into the first intermission but two minutes into the second period RIT was able to tie the game after Ben Lynch was left wide open in the slot and snapped a shot past Musico’s blocker.
It did not take long for the Lions to get the lead back however. Six minutes later, freshman forward Casey Bailey knocked a rebound out of midair into the net to give the Lions the lead back, despite being outshot by the Tigers in the second period, 13-5.
Penn State extended its lead after a power play goal from sophomore forward Max Gardiner just six seconds into the second man advantage of the night for the Lions.
“Coach [Gadowsky] stressed getting pucks to the net,” Gardiner said. “Right off the draw we won it back and [freshman defenseman] Joe Lordo took a nice shot on net. It just popped out to me and I threw it on net and luckily it went in.”
Gardiner’s goal and the penalty kill of the five-minute major ended up being the difference
Gadowsky said he thought the team rose the task of killing penalty really well.
“Everybody was blocking shots and battling,” Gadowsky said. “P.J. [Musico] played great. He is usually our best penalty killer. When your penalty kill is good usually the goaltender has something to do with it.”
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