It’s an all too familiar ending for the Nittany Lions, when they trail their opponent after the first period – they lose.
Penn State’s record, when they trail after the first shift, fell to 0-10-0 Tuesday night against Neumann at the Greenberg Ice Pavilion. However, when the team led after the first, it has an unblemished record of 7-0-0.
When the first period buzzer sounded, the team saw itself losing 1-0 on the scoreboard. The Lions also had 10 shots on net, compared to Neumann’s four. The Lions had many more opportunities than the Knights near the end of the game.
They tied the score by the end of regulation and out-shot Neumann, 21-1, but ultimately lost in overtime, 3-2.
Coach Guy Gadowsky attributes this phenomenon to his team’s mental toughness and someone of greater power.
“After [the first period] I thought their play was excellent, but the hockey gods will never let you get away with that. They just won’t,” Gadowsky said.
He said if a team’s unprepared to play, it can’t turn it on later in the game.
“Honestly, we’ve seen it 100 times, you do something to piss off the hockey gods and you come back and do your best, but at the end you don’t get it,” Gadowsky. “And that’s what happened.”
Gadowsky said he thought his squad showed a little spark in mental toughness after their 5-2 comeback win in an exhibition game against the U.S. Under-18 National Development team over the weekend, but said it was a different kind of mental toughness.
The Penn State coach said it’s easier for a team to come back when the other team’s feeling comfortable. The other kind of mental toughness is when a team dictates at the start of the game, he said.
“We really have trouble with that,” Gadowsky said. “We really are lacking the leadership…We don’t have that right now. We’re starving for it and we need it.”
Freshman forward Casey Bailey recognized the team’s need to pick it up in the beginning of the game and said it was unfortunate they had to get another “wake-up call.”
“I think we started off a little lackadaisical,” Bailey said. “I think we lost a lot of battles in the first period. I think we tightened it up in the second and third, but all-out we’re not happy about how we played.”