As an independent in its inaugural NCAA Division I season, Penn State is faced without a league or the chance to play in the NCAA tournament.
With that in mind, the team thought it was pretty cool to win something like the Independent League Megabowl over the weekend.
A few days prior to the team’s series against fellow NCAA Division I independent Alabama-Huntsville, Penn State players dubbed the two contests the “Independent League Megabowl” and started spreading the word using #IndependentLeagueMegabowl on Twitter. Alabama-Huntsville players also shared the hashtag.
“I think, to the guys, it actually meant something to them,” coach Guy Gadowsky said. “It is our league — two independent teams — we can’t go to playoffs and it is nice.”
The Nittany Lions (12-13-0) swept the Chargers (3-19-1) to become victors of the first Megabowl. Penn State shut out Alabama-Huntsville, 4-0, on Friday night. The series ended with a score of 4-3 on Saturday in a more competitive and controversial game.
The program’s first hat trick from freshman forward David Glen and netminder Matthew Skoff’s second shutout of the season energized Friday night’s game.
The final game of the series looked toward the same turnout, with Penn State leading 2-0 into most of the second period, until Alabama-Huntsville put in its first goal of the weekend at 17:34 of the second period. The Chargers then managed to tie the game up just 54 seconds into the third period.
The next goal of the game came from Penn State forward Kenny Brooks. This is where the controversy sparked, when Chargers coach Kurt Kleinendorst said he believed the puck didn’t cross the goal line. He said his team was in a better position before the call.
“I thought it was just two teams that played hard and it was unfortunate that it came down to the goal that I don’t think was a goal,” Kleinendorst said. “It’s disheartening, but it is what it is. But we’re all human, the referees are human, some nights they have better nights than others, and tonight was a rough night.”
Gadowsky said he couldn’t see what happened from his position, but Brooks said he “dunked it in.”
“I was in a good neutral zone right there…I lifted the kid’s stick, he didn’t see me coming, and I just threw it in the net,” Brooks said. “It hit off the goalie’s stick, the back of it. It went in and it looked like, to me, he pulled it out of his pad, kind of there. That’s about all I saw.”
After Brooks’ goal was confirmed, the Chargers tied the game once again in an exciting third period. Then, defenseman Mark Yanis put the game-winner straight into the back of the net with a booming slapshot in the final five minutes of the game.
Gadowsky said the game-winning goal coming from a defenseman was “very fitting” because the team dressed only four defensemen for Saturday’s win.
“To play with four [defensemen], I think it’s really easy to have a built-in excuse to not play hard and say that things are against you,” Gadowsky said. “I really feel good about this one and I give those guys a lot of credit. We made mistakes, certainly, but it’s tough when you’re playing every second shift.”