In sports, there is a long list of clichés.
But, there was no cliché that could make the Penn State men’s hockey team feel good about losing to a Division III team. And what made it worse was the Nittany Lions could not score last Friday night against Buffalo State.
After the shocking shutout, head coach Guy Gadowsky pinpointed the exact reason why the Lions got beat, 3-0, by the Bengals.
“We weren’t prepared to play,” Gadowsky said after the game. “What went wrong was we came up against a team that was prepared to compete.”
It was also frustrating that the Lions could not respond after outshooting Buffalo State 19-7 in the first period. Gadowsky said it showed a lack of discipline and “mental focus.”
Gadowsky took responsibility for the team not being prepared to compete. He said the team could look at the loss in two different ways — either as a learning experience for a young team or bad luck.
The referees appeared to have lost control of the game in the third period as checks into the boards became louder, and players began pushing and shoving after each stoppage of play. As a result, both teams were given six penalties each for 35 of the 83 total penalty minutes in the third alone.
The penalties caused the crowd of more than 1,600 to groan and jeer after each hit as nothing appeared to be going the Lions’ way.
Gadowsky said the penalty calls were a part of the game that they could not control, but it came down to them not capitalizing on their own opportunities.
The Nittany Lions failed to capitalize on nine power play opportunities, while the Bengals scored all of their three goals on the man advantage to beat the Lions Friday night.
Gadowsky said everybody from the players to the coaching staff could learn something positive from Friday night’s disappointment.
Heading into the game at Blue Cross Arena against RIT, the Lions knew they would face a tougher opponent Saturday night.
The Tigers were coming off a weekend in which they split two games with then third-ranked Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Once the puck dropped, Penn State looked like a completely different team. That’s because the team was focused and ready to play, Gadowsky said.
Sophomore forward Max Gardiner echoed his coach’s comments about Friday night’s loss after winning a hard-fought game, 3-2, Saturday night in Rochester.
“I think Buffalo State caught us by surprise,” Gardiner said. “We wanted to answer tonight, and our players played hard, and I think they all wanted to win.”
Gardiner said the goaltending from sophomore P.J. Musico, in addition to “doing the little things right,” helped the Lions win the close game. Gadowsky agreed.
“We blocked a lot of shots,” Gardiner said. “We were working hard down low and grinded it out there at the end. They had a lot of pressure, but we did a good job in the [defensive] zone.”