Penn State hockey returned from a two week break to participate in the Three Rivers Classic out in Pittsburgh this weekend. The two day, four team tournament was held in Consol Energy Center, the home of the currently locked out Pittsburgh Penguins. Along with Penn State, high caliber teams such as Robert Morris, Miami, and soon to be conference rivals in Ohio State participated in the inaugural year of the contest.
Game one saw the Nittany Lions face off against the Robert Morris Colonials on Friday night. These two teams last met on December 15th at home where Penn State lost a tough game 3-2. However, this game lacked the intensity and drive as Penn State was shut out 6-0. PJ Musico started the game in net but let in 4 goals in the first period off of 21 shots. The less than stellar performance gave Matthew Skoff a chance to start in goal in the second and saved 18 of 20 through two. Even though the team itself generated 48 shots on goal – Casey Bailey lead the team with 9 of them – none of the chances could be netted. The defense was lacking as well, giving Robert Morris too many rebound chances that really cost them in this game.
Having lost to Robert Morris in the first game, Penn State took to the ice Saturday night to play Ohio State. These two teams are going to see a lot more of each other in the future, as both teams will move into the new Big Ten hockey conference at the start of next season. Overall, this game was much better on both sides of the puck as three different Nittany Lions scored and the defense was there when they were needed. Despite being down 1-0 early in the first, Curtis Loik tied the game up at one mere minutes after Ohio State’s goal. The team then went on a 3-0 run to take a 3-1 lead into the first intermission, even netting a rare power play goal courtesy of Casey Bailey. Ohio State was able to capitalize early and make it 3-2 in the second but with just nine seconds left to play in the period, Casey Bailey scored again to put Penn State up 4-2. Then 21 seconds later in the third, Taylor Holstrom netted his second goal for the game to give the Nittany Lions a commanding 5-2 lead. Ohio State wouldn’t go down without a fight; however, as they made it interesting with 2 goals in the last thirteen minutes of the game. Despite the interesting final minutes, the Nittany Lions held on to a win 5-4 in a definite improvement over their first game in the tournament.
The win against Ohio State brought Penn State’s record to 8-9-0 for the season. Their next game will be away against the University of Connecticut Huskies on January 4th and 5th and as of today, their record stands at 4-7-2. The women’s team will also be back in action on the 4th and 5th as well, as they will play at home against Chatham, who are 3-8 overall on the season. I was planning on writing a reaction part of this recap to the first half of the season for both the men’s and women’s teams but I do not have the time, unfortunately. I may be on winter break, but I’m still just as busy as I was at school it seems. However, I will get the recaps to both the men’s and women’s games up once I get back to school later that weekend. Follow me on Twitter for the latest in Penn State hockey, and other assorted things I find amusing. Also, on behalf of myself and the rest of Victory Bell Rings, I wish you all a great rest of the year and that you all ring in the New Year safely and happily!