Penn State lost a heartbreaker Sunday night to the 15th ranked Union Dutchmen, giving up four unanswered goals after at one point leading 4-1 in a 5-4 loss in their final home game of the 2013 calendar year. Eamon McAdam got his fourth start of the season, his second at home, in the loss on Sunday as the team dropped to 3-7-1 on the season.
After a 15 minute delay caused by an errant emergency fire alarm, Penn State got the start they wanted in the first period, controlling play from the opening whistle and scoring an early goal on the power play within the first four minutes of the game. Union’s Charlie Vasaturo committed an interference penalty 3:25 into the first frame to give the Nittany Lions the extra-man advantage. Just 33 seconds into the power play, Luke Juha took a shot from the point that rebounded off of Dutchman goaltender Colin Stevens and right to Zach Saar who buried the rebound for his first goal of the season. The Nittany Lions went right back to the man advantage as Union’s Matt Wilkins was sent to the box for boarding and again, Penn State capitalized on the power play, this time from Juha on a wide open wrister from the left faceoff circle after a nice set up from Eric Scheid. McAdam had a great first period, saving all 9 Union shots with a good number of high quality chances.
It became a battle of the special teams play in the second, as the teams combined to score five goals in the second frame, with four of them coming off of special teams. Union broke the shutout 6:06 into the period on the power play after Saar sat for two minutes for offensive hooking, as Dutchman Mike Vecchione cruised into the middle of the ice and beat McAdam blocker side. Penn State quickly responded to make it 3-1 with an even strength goal from Eric Scheid, his fourth of the year, after Mark Yanis’ shot from the point deflected off of Scheid and past Stevens’ stick side and into the net. The Nittany Lions then made it 4-1 off of a shorthanded goal by David Glen as Yanis sat in the box for high sticking. The puck took a strange hop off of the back boards behind Stevens and deflected off of a Union player’s skate and into the net at 10:18 in the middle frame, prompting a goalie change for Union to Alex Sakellaropoulos.
However, Penn State committed another penalty – Kenny Brooks this time for charging – and went down 5-on-3 for 39 seconds. After the first minor expired, Union defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere fired a quick shot past McAdam to put the Dutchmen right back in it at 4-2 with 7:12 left to play in the second. Again on the power play, with Yanis in the box again but for interference, Gostisbehere scored his second of the night to bring Union to a one goal deficit going into the second intermission.
Union came out firing in the third period, increasing their shot total and taking back the momentum that Penn State had for a good portion of the first two periods. Matt Hatch scored the tying goal 7:49 into the frame for the Dutchmen, shooting the puck towards the net and taking a deflection off of Luke Juha’s stick and through McAdam’s pads. From there, the ice shifted dramatically towards the Dutchmen, as they were able to control the third period, giving little room for Penn State to work with until near the end of the game. However, with three seconds to play in the game, Union’s Daniel Ciampini poked the puck past Penn State’s David Thompson and went forehand-backhand-forehand to beat McAdam to ice the late win for the Dutchmen 5-4.
The Dutchmen outshot the Nittany Lions 43-23 through three periods, though through the first two periods it seemed more in Penn State’s favor than the scoresheet designated. Special teams were a big factor in the game as well, with Union going 3-5 on the power play and Penn State going 2-3.
Next week kicks off Big Ten play for Penn State, as they travel to Madison to play the 4-5-1 Wisconsin Badgers Friday and Saturday night. Friday night’s game will start at 8 p.m. and Saturday’s at 9 p.m. in the Kohl Center.