In Penn State’s final non-conference game of the 2013-14 season, the Nittany Lions lost 3-2 to No. 2 Boston College in a close game at Pegula Ice Arena in front of a sold out crowd Saturday night. Eamon McAdam got his eighth start in net for the Nittany Lions but the team could not get him his first win of the season, though theeffort improved dramatically from the last time the two teams played in the Three Rivers Classic where the Eagles downed Penn State 8-2.
Penn State was without forward David Glen, as he is recovering from a bone marrow donation earlier in the week, but Eric Scheid scored his tenth goal of the season and Taylor Holstrom added a shorthanded goal to help boost the team offensively.
It was all Penn State for the first few minutes of the first period, with the Nittany Lions getting the first four shots of the game and spending a lot of time in Boston College’s offensive zone. Penn State’s Curtis Loik had the best opportunity early when he created space for himself at the top of the zone but misfired on a shot wide of Eagle goaltender Thatcher Demko. Boston College opened the scoring on a weird deflection goal that hit the post, bounced off of McAdam and he fell out of position as Eagle Kevin Hayes stashed the puck just under the left goal post for the 1-0 Eagle lead.
From there, play evened out as Penn State had a bit of trouble breaking out of the neutral zone but McAdam bailed the team out on arguably his best save of the season with 2:53 left in the period. He dove to the left and stretched out his glove to stop a sure Boston College goal and hung onto the puck at the goal line as players tried to jab the puck loose. The Nittany Lions took a too-many-men on the ice penalty with 47 seconds to play in the period, as Loik sat for the remainder of the period and 1:13 into the second.
Penn State killed the penalty with relative ease and went back on the attack to start the second. 4:20 into the frame, Nate Jensen almost put the Nittany Lions on the board when his shot hit off the left post behind Demko, trickled through the blue paint just in front of the goal line, and remained out of the net despite the goal light going off behind the play. Boston College countered with an almost goal of its own with 14:08 to go in the period, when the puck looked to go into the net but the net was knocked off its moorings.
Penn State responded with 6:45 gone in the second and tied the game 1-1 on a dirty goal that was knocked loose from Demko’s left pad by Eric Scheid when the Nittany Lions crashed the net for his tenth goal of the season. Demko rebounded and stole a Penn State chance with 5:28 to play in the period when he slid across the goal crease to stop a Casey Bailey one-timer opportunity from Scheid on the right side. The teams went 4-on-4 for two minutes when Nittany Lion Zach Saar and Eagle Michael Matheson when to the penalty boxes for high sticking and roughing respectively. Boston College took the 2-1 lead on a 2-on-1 goal on the 4-on-4 as leading Eagle scorer Johnny Gaudreau notched his 22nd goal of the season from teammate Bill Arnold, fooling McAdam glove side with just under 4 minutes to play in the second.
Despite getting their penalty killed, Casey Bailey had a chance right after the power play expired but shot the puck high and wide from the bottom of the right circle to start the third. However, Penn State’s attack was stopped as Jonathan Milley took a five-minute boarding major 4:06 into the third period, putting the Nittany Lions on a penalty kill. Boston College took advantage of the mistake just 33 seconds into the penalty as Hayes tallied his second goal of the game, ringing a shot off the post and off of McAdam’s back and into the net for a 3-1 Boston College lead.
On a breakaway shorthanded, Tommy Olczyk was pulled down from behind and was awarded a penalty shot against Demko but the captain was denied glove side. McAdam lost his stick on the other end of the ice on the penalty kill, but Penn State bailed him out and broke away on a 2-on-1 with Taylor Holstrom cutting the lead to 3-2 with a nice deke in front of Demko and lifted the puck over his shoulder glove side with 13:02 left in the game.
As soon as the Milley major was over, Penn State took another too-many-men on the ice penalty, putting the Nittany Lions back on the PK for two minutes. In total, Penn State spent seven consecutive minutes on the penalty kill through the third period. McAdam showed some more brilliance with 3:27 left to play in the game, stoning Gaudreau point-blank with a glove save by the right circle.
McAdam was pulled with 1:13 left to play and Penn State had more chances in front of Demko, but Boston College was able to hang on for the 3-2 win. The Nittany Lions led the Eagles in shots through all three periods, 35-30 through the sixty minutes.
After the game, Coach Gadowsky was happy with the overall play of the team in taking a step forward, but frustrated with the same penalty mistakes. “We were a lot, lot better in the defensive zone. That’s it, that’s the difference.” Gadowsky said. “Give the guys a lot of credit.”
“We’re very proud of certain aspects of our performance,” Gadowsky said, “…but I’m disappointed that we had a one goal game again and we take a major. I’m disappointed in that. I don’t know how many times do we have to learn that lesson. It’s getting a little redundant.”
“We’ve now lost mental focus in very close games twice now and I thought we learned that lesson.”
On McAdam’s performance and the absence of his first win on the stat sheet, Gadowsky said, “I just want it for him so badly. I thought he’s played two excellent games and one pretty good game… I would love to get it for him.”
McAdam said he’s “very” anxious about not having his first win of the season so far in the year. “It’s hard to go this far in the season without picking up a win, especially not having one as a freshman in my college career.” He said. “I’m pretty anxious to get it but we’re right there… it’s a bounce away.”
The loss brings Penn State’s record to 4-14-1 for the season. Next weekend, the team travels to Ohio State to face the Buckeyes on Friday the 31st of January and Saturday the 1st of Feburary. Friday’s game drops at 7:05 p.m. while Saturday’s starts at 2:00 p.m. and will be broadcasted on ESPNEWS.