Minutes before Mark Yanis put the game-winner into the net Saturday against Alabama-Huntsville, there was worry he wouldn’t even be back in the game.
The freshman defenseman blocked a shot off of his ankle and was seen limping off the ice.
Yanis said he could barely feel his leg at that point, but it didn’t stop him from getting back on the ice and to help cause the turning point of the game.
Coach Guy Gadowsky said Yanis just waved the coaches off after a minute’s rest and went get back into the game.
“We were like, ‘I don’t know,’ ” Gadowsky said of putting Yanis back into the game. “And he just said, ‘I’m good.’ ”
Gadowsky said before this interaction there was a worry of only having three defensemen in the final five minutes of a tie game. The team only dressed four defensemen because of injury Saturday.
“I rubbed it off, went out there, maybe the first or second shift after that and there was one shot blocked by me and the puck kind of came back to me right in my wheelhouse and I just buried it,” Yanis said.
Gadowsky said the game-winning goal was a big change of pace for the Nittany Lions, who beat the Chargers 4-3 on Sataurday.
“When [Yanis] went, out we had thoughts of three [defensemen], but I’m really glad he came back and really glad he has a bomb,” Gadowsky said.
The Penn State coach raved about his defense after Saturday’s game. He said he was especially proud because it came off of another strong game Friday night.
“I give them a lot of credit,” Gadowsky said. “That’s tough, that’s tough to do, especially the second night. And it wasn’t like they were fresh. It’s not like they were coming off a fresh night.”
By the final period, Yanis said the defense was exhausted from only two shifts, but said it wasn’t too much of a burden. He contributed this to the conditioning the defensive players endured this season.
“The coaches push us all year and things happen like this,” Yanis said. “We came out there with four [defensemen] in the lineup and I think we all played great.
“We stuck to it and we played hard, we played the same D we play every night… and come out with a ‘W.’ ”
The 6-foot-3 freshman said the mentality of the defense wasn’t any different with the absence of fellow defenseman Joseph Lordo from injury on Friday night.
“The ‘D’ just said, ‘Hey, we have to go out there and do the same thing we do every night,’” Yanis said. “And we did and coach was pretty happy with us and how we played. We got together and got a good win.”