The Penn State men’s hockey team closed out their inaugural Division I season this weekend against No. 16 Wisconsin in spectacular fashion. In game one on Sunday night, the Nittany Lions were shut out by their soon to be Big Ten hockey conference rivals 5-0 but came storming back in game two with an overtime thriller Monday night to beat the Badgers 3-2.
Sunday night’s game in Madison, Wis. had both teams scoreless until 1:26 into the second period. UW defenseman John Ramage got the scoring started for the Badgers with his sixth of the season. PSU goalie, PJ Musico, would let in four more goals in the game: one more in the second, three in the third, and two of which were power play goals. However, Musico did come up big for the Nittany Lions at times and saved 46 of the Badgers 51 shots in the game, a career high for him. Penn State was only able to tally 22 shots on net as well and with Wisconsin only blocking five attempts, it was an easy win for the Badgers thanks to no sustained Nittany Lion attack.
In what was clearly the biggest win of the year for the team, Penn State came back from a 2-0 deficit in the third period to beat Wisconsin in overtime. The first period was scoreless again but the Badgers got an even strength goal on a 2-on-0 off the stick of Mark Zengerle. UW would then score just under the seven minute mark in the third period but Penn State had an answer a mere 7 seconds later when Taylor Holstrom buried a goal off a Badger turnover. Casey Bailey would also notch his 14th goal of the season on the power play twelve minutes into the period to tie the game at two apiece. Overall Penn State dominated the third period and had many opportunities to close out the game then and there. However, the overtime hero was Taylor Holstrom with his ninth goal of the year off the glove side of UW goalie Landon Peterson. The shots were closer in this game but Wisconsin still held the edge over Penn State, 44 to 36. Matthew Skoff started the last game in goal for the Nittany Lions and although he let in a soft goal that put the team down 2-0, he certainly kept the team in it when they needed him.
What a way to end the 2012-2013 season, I must say. Penn State finishes the year with an overall record of 13-14-0, going 5-4-0 at home, 6-10-0 away, and 4-1-0 on neutral ice. I wasn’t sure what to expect coming into this year, having gone to only a few of their games before this season and knowing none of the names on the roster but the team I’ve seen since the middle of October has really impressed me and will probably continue to do so for quite some time. However, the thing I was most impressed with this year has been the play of the freshmen. There were 10 freshmen on the 26 man roster this year and each one has had an integral part in getting this team where it is now. Matthew Skoff was our starting goalie for the majority of the year, Casey Bailey and David Glen combined for 30 of the team’s 74 goals – over 40% of the team’s goals for the season – Bailey was also a point per game player, having played 27 games and totaling 27 points. While those three were just the standout freshman stars, every single one of the ten freshmen had great years and while it might not have shown up on the stats sheet, they had definite impacts on the ice. It will be exciting to see what next year will bring: a second year under young Tommy Olczyk’s captainship, a new ice arena to play in, a dominating freshman class’s return, and a bunch of new recruits who will help shape the future of Penn State hockey here in Happy Valley.
In the off season (more like over summer break for me), I’ll periodically post hockey news as it becomes relevant and of course I’ll be back next year to cover the team’s second DI season and first in the new Big Ten hockey conference. This is the last recap for the men’s team this season, but the women’s team still plays on in the CHA Tournament that starts this Friday. Their first game is against RIT on Friday at 2 p.m. I’ll cover the team up until the end of their run in the tournament so make sure to come back every week for new updates! Until then, make sure to follow me on Twitter for everything Penn State hockey!