The Nittany Lions split their first weekend series of 2015, as Penn State (10-7-2, 4-2-0 Big Ten) hosted conference opponent Ohio State (7-10-2, 2-3-0 Big Ten) to start the latter half of their season. A comeback Friday night could not be completed as the Nittany Lions fell to the Buckeyes 5-4 to start the year, but bounced back for a 4-1 win Saturday night and came away with a home series split against Ohio State for the second straight year.
Friday: 5-4 loss vs. Ohio State
Casey Bailey tallied a hat trick to spark a late comeback with the Nittany Lions down 4-0, but Penn State lost in overtime to the Buckeyes on a controversial no-call that gave Anthony Greco the game winner with 46 seconds to play.
With Penn State down by their second-biggest margin of the season, the Nittany Lions managed to put together four straight goals in just under 13 minutes to send what looked to be a big loss into overtime with the potential to cap off the comeback with a win.
However, the effort was brought to a screeching halt as Greco was sprung into the offensive zone on a breakaway on what looked to be a tripping call after Erik Autio was taken to the ice by Tanner Fritz with a hook, but no call was given and the forward put away the game on his ninth tally of the season.
"It was unfortunate that the game ended on a controversial play, but the refs didn't lose the game for us," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "In my mind, we lost the game in the second period when we were complacent."
A scoreless first period continued into the second, but mistakes by Penn State that lead to odd-man rushes for Ohio State's Luke Stork and Christian Lampasso within the last four minutes of the middle frame gave the Buckeyes a 2-0 lead heading into the third period.
Stork got his second of the game 59 seconds into the third to make it 3-0 Ohio State and Gadowsky pulled Nittany Lion starting goaltender Matt Skoff for senior PJ Musico after the sophomore let in 3 goals on 25 shots. However, just under two minutes later, Ohio State's Nick Schilkey increased the Buckeye lead to 4-0, netting his fifth goal of the year.
Bailey stalled Ohio State's plans for victory after potting a pair of goals in 69 seconds four minutes after the Buckeyes took a commanding four goal lead to cut the score in half.
David Goodwin got in on the action with 5:53 to play in the game thanks to some great passing work between defensemen Luke Juha and Autio, getting the Nittany Lions within striking distance on a 4-3 score on Buckeye goaltender Christian Frey.
With goaltender Musico pulled for an extra attacker, Bailey finished the hat trick with a shot from the center of the left face-off circle that beat Frey with 22 seconds to play for his 14th goal of the season, tying him for third in the NCAA in goals on the year and leading the Nittany Lions in points with 22.
Despite the loss, Penn State outshot Ohio State 57-35 in the contest, and only allowed one shot - the goal - in overtime while tallying six of their own in the four minute frame.
Saturday: 4-1 win vs. Ohio State
On Friday, it was Casey Bailey's time to shine. Saturday, junior Eric Scheid took up the mantle and delivered a three point performance in only his second game back with the Nittany Lions after sitting out six weeks with a concussion.
Scheid and sophomore forward David Goodwin broke open the game for Penn State with goals 50 seconds apart halfway through the game with the Nittany Lions tied up with the Buckeyes 1-1. Despite having no shots to Ohio State's 13 through the first ten minutes of the second period, Penn State held on long enough for Goodwin to knock in his eighth goal of the season. Taylor Holstrom started the play taking on two defenders in the offensive zone alone, but lost control of the puck in front of the Ohio State net. Buckeye netminder Frey missed a poke check and Holstrom took advantage of the misplay and threw a backhander in front to Goodwin for the easy 2-1 score.
On a 4-on-4 moments later, with Penn State's Nate Jensen and Ohio State's Christian Lampasso were taken to the box on coincidental cross-checking and unsportsmanlike conduct minors, Scheid and freshman Scott Conway took advantage of a Buckeye turnover to get a 2-on-0 breakaway. Conway's cross ice pass was on the mark to Scheid and the forward went stick side on Frey only nine seconds into the minors to give Penn State a 3-1 lead headed into the third period.
Scheid tallied his lone assist in the first period on a power play after former captain Tommy Olczyk was hit hard in front of the Ohio State bench with an elbow that knocked him flat, giving the Nittany Lions an extra-man advantage for two minutes. With time winding down, Scheid backhanded a pass to Curtis Loik in front of Frey and the forward put it home for his fifth goal of the season with just 43 seconds to play in the first for the 1-0 Penn State lead.
Ohio State capitalized on a 5-on-3 penalty in the early stages of the second to tie the game at 1-1, after Max Gardiner was sent off for cross-checking with just 2:51 gone in the period and Jensen followed for his own cross-checking minor with 11 seconds left in the original penalty. Six seconds into the two-man advantage, Matthew Weis took a cross ice pass from Lampasso to beat Penn State sophomore goaltender Eamon McAdam glove side.
McAdam's biggest play of the game came in the third period with the Nittany Lions on the power play with seven minutes left in the contest. Weis was looking for his second of the game on a shorthanded breakaway, but McAdam faked the poke check that threw the Ohio State player off balance and he closed the five-hole before the Buckeyes could reduce the Penn State lead to one.
An empty netter from Scheid secured the junior's three point night of two goals and one assist after the Buckeyes passed the puck right to the forward in the neutral zone and the shot from near center ice cemented the 4-1 Penn State win.
Penn State was outmatched in the shot count by one to the Buckeyes, 36-35, and each team tallied a power play goal, with the Nittany Lions going 1-for-3 and Ohio State going 1-for-4.
Penn State snapped a three-game losing streak with Saturday's victory and key performances from Eric Scheid and Eamon McAdam - along with Casey Bailey's hat trick Friday - helped the Nittany Lions avoid a sweep in their first two games of the 2015 half of the season. In net, McAdam's win on Saturday - his fourth of the season - was his first collegiate victory in Pegula Ice Arena.
"We had not only very good solid goaltending, but really timely goaltending," head coach Guy Gadowsky said. "I think the positive play of the game was [McAdam] stopping the shorthanded breakaway with seven minutes left. Obviously, that could have greatly changed the momentum and the complex of the game so I thought he deserves a ton of credit for that."
Also deserving of credit is Scheid, who battled back from a concussion to post two goals and one assist in his second game back, despite stating his game on Friday wasn't his best.
"I think after missing six weeks like that, I was a little nervous going into the game," Scheid said of Friday's performance. "You obviously you don't want to take another hit like that and see yourself off the rest of the season, so I kind of played a little nervous... I think just getting the game under my belt and getting back into the swing of things really helped me."
Even with the win Saturday, Penn State certainly was not at their best, according to Gadowsky.
"I think [Saturday] was more consistent, but I don't think we reached the highs," he said. "I actually thought yesterday our first period was really good, we just didn't convert and then I think we wanted the easy way out and it's hard to flip that switch on again sometimes. When you shut down, you expect that you'll just be able to pop it back on again and that didn't happen. [Saturday], I certainly felt we were more consistent, but we certainly didn't reach the highs out of the gate that we did last night."
Weekend Standout Players
- F Casey Bailey: 3 goals
- F Eric Scheid: 2 goals, 2 assists
- G Eamon McAdam: 35 saves on 36 shots (Season: .918 SV%, 2.77 GAA)
Michigan State (7-10-1) comes to town next weekend to continue Penn State's Big Ten play on Jan. 16 and 17, with the series closer televised on ESPNU. Penn State will also introduce an alternate jersey on Jan. 17, the first third jersey for the team.