Make that two sweeps in a row at home for the Nittany Lions, as Penn State (5-1-2) beat Bentley (3-4-0) twice by a score of 3-2 on comeback victories over the weekend.
Thursday: 3-2 win vs. Bentley
The top line of David Goodwin, Taylor Holstrom, and Casey Bailey totaled six points for the Nittany Lions in Thursday night's come-from-behind win. The trio kept the Falcons on their toes and pinned in their zone seemingly every time they played a shift together.
And it showed. Bailey and Goodwin each had a goal and an assist in the game, while Holstrom added on two assists for a total of eight on the season to lead the team in helpers.
Things weren't so good for either team at the start of the game, and Bentley took advantage of the sloppy play on the power play 6:40 into the game after Dylan Richard took an interference penalty. With over half the man-advantage gone, Falcon defender Max Maher tallied his second goal of the season on a point shot from the top right circle that beat Nittany Lion goaltender Matt Skoff glove side down low for the 1-0 Bentley lead.
Seven minutes later, Bailey tacked on his fifth goal of the season to tie the game 1-1 after the top line's pressure in the offensive zone became too much for the fading Falcon players, and the forward poked in Holstrom's rebound from the doorstep past Bentley goaltender Gabe Antoni.
The Nittany Lions took the lead on a power play of their own at 17:03 of the frame to go into the first intermission up 2-1 on the Falcons. Curtis Loik tipped a point shot from captain Patrick Koudys down in the slot where Antoni was expecting high and could not recover in time for Penn State to add their second marker of the period.
Sophomore Goodwin gave Penn State the ultimate game winning goal just past the halfway point in the second period on some tick-tac-toe passing between Luke Juha and Holstrom to enter the zone. When the puck was fired on net, Goodwin stuffed it in glove side to put the Nittany Lions up by two.
The two-goal lead held until 3:53 into the third period, when Bentley tacked on their second goal of the game, and their second on the power play. Kenny Brooks' holding penalty was just set to expire when Max French snuck the puck into the back of the net on a scramble past goaltender Skoff to put the Falcons within one again.
More late power plays for Bentley almost tied the game, but Penn State held onto the 3-2 victory to win their third game in a row in their first comeback victory of the season.
The Nittany Lions again outshot their opponents in Thursday night's matchup, more than doubling up the Falcons in the category 54-26.
Friday: 3-2 win vs. Bentley
Penn State again did not play their best hockey to begin the game Friday, going down a 2-0 hole in the first to the Falcons, but they stepped up when it was needed the most.
Two goals in 16 seconds was all it took for the Nittany Lions to shock Bentley and win their fourth straight of the year. Holstrom and Eric Scheid combined to score Penn State's last two goals in the final three minutes of the game to overcome the team's largest deficit of the year.
Falcon goaltender Blake Dougherty held the Nittany Lions to only one goal through the first 57 minutes of the game on spectacular goaltending and almost stole the game for Bentley, but Penn State finally got the best of the breaks that seemed to go against them for most of the game.
The Falcons took an elbowing penalty heading into the last four minutes of the game that put the Nittany Lions of the power play, with Penn State trailing 2-1. The Nittany Lions took advantage on Holstrom's close-range shot that beat Dougherty five-hole to tie the game at 2-2.
Seconds later, Scheid took a seemingly harmless shot from the right circle that tricked the Falcon goaltender with a Penn State player streaking in front. The puck ricocheted off Dougherty's shoulder, deflected down off the crossbar, and past the goal line with the Penn State faithful still on their feet from Holstrom's tally.
"This weekend we had two opportunities going in down in the third and I think they came through with flying colors," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "I give the guys a lot of credit, mostly for being able to play a good style of Penn State hockey when it mattered the most."
The Nittany Lions fell down early after Bentley captain Alex Grieve opened the scoring for the Falcons at 9:01 of the first period. On the power play with Bailey in the box, Grieve beat Skoff from the left post that the Nittany Lion goaltender had no chance of stopping on his stick side. The assist was given to French on the extra-man advantage.
French gained his second point of the night on the Falcon's second power play goal of the period at 15:32 of the frame. Mike Williamson took a tripping penalty for the Nittany Lions and French tipped a point shot from teammate Blomquist that beat Skoff low and gave Bentley a 2-0 lead after the first 20 minutes.
The third power play goal of the game came for Penn State when freshman Scott Conway got the Nittany Lions on the board at 9:14 of the second frame. The one-timer from the sharp angle past Dougherty was the freshman's third tally of the season and helped spark Penn State's late 3-2 comeback in the third.
The Nittany Lions outshot the Falcons 49-35 though three periods, helped by a 22-7 advantage in the third frame alone.
Penn State has outshot their opponents in all eight games they've played this season. Over the weekend, the Nittany Lions outshot Bentley 103-61 and over the course of the season, have dominated that statistic 345-236 not even a quarter of the way through the season. Penn State's averaging 43.1 shots per game to their opponent's 29.5, helping them to the third best offense in the NCAA with 3.88 average goals per game, tied with Robert Morris and behind UMass-Lowell and Brown.
That's a lot of stats to take in, but right now, Penn State's offense is trending upwards and getting production from players that took a good time to get going last season. The scoring has started to click for the Nittany Lions and it has made them a pretty formidable opponent through the first month of the season.
Penn State gave up four power play goals over the weekend to Bentley out of eight Falcon man-advantages. After going 50 percent over the weekend, Bentley now hold's second in the nation on power plays just behind Brown, going 10-of-32 all season. So far this season, the Nittany Lions have done well with staying out of the penalty box, averaging 9.12 minutes a game to opponent's 11.9 minutes. However, allowing four power play goals to a very dangerous Bentley squad is just a slight knock on what was otherwise a good weekend overall for Penn State.
"To give a team who’s the ninth best power play in the nation coming into this game to allow two power play goals certainly wasn’t our plan," Gadowsky said after Thursday night's win.
Weekend Standout Players
- F Casey Bailey, David Goodwin, and Taylor Holstrom: 3G, 4A
- F Eric Scheid: 1G
- G Matt Skoff: .934 SV%, 2.00 GAA (Season: .932 SV%, 1.97 GAA)
Penn State will have a week off before heading to Massachusetts for their first real test of the season, where they'll take on No. 6 UMass-Lowell (5-1-1) on on Friday, Nov. 14 at 7:15 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m.