PHILADELPHIA — Penn State got in on the celebration of the return of hockey Saturday night.
A few hours after the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Philadelphia Flyers, the Nittany Lions had their own party with Vermont at the Wells Fargo Center for the Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff.
Four different Nittany Lions scored while Matthew Skoff played brilliantly at the other end in a 4-2 win over the Catamounts in front of 19,529 — the largest crowd ever to see a college hockey game in Pennsylvania and the first Division I game ever played in the new Philadelphia arena.
“What a great venue, what a great crowd, what a great Penn State crowd,” head coach Guy Gadowsky said after the game. “They were phenomenal tonight. I think they played a big part. In our win, we weren’t clicking, things weren’t happening but the crowd kept us in it, (Skoff) kept us in it, the guys gritted it out with some great battles with some big blocks. They somehow found a way to do it. This was a huge win for Penn State.”
Taylor Holstrom, David Glen, Justin Kirchhevel and Casey Bailey each scored a goal for the Nittany Lions (9-12). Skoff stopped 34 shots in the victory.
Holstrom got the Nittany Lions off to a sparkling start, shooting up the middle and splitting the Catamount defense before beating Hoffman. Connor Varley and Mark Yanis helped set Holstrom up on the play.
With 1:21 left in the first, Kirchhevel set up Glen on the second goal, slipping the puck from the boards behind the net out to Glen in the slot for a one-timer past goaltender Brody Hoffman. Nate Jensen also assisted on Glen’s 11th goal of the season.
Kirchhevel then netted the third goal, wrapping the puck from behind the net around the post. Officials initially ruled Hoffman had stopped the puck, but a video replay review gave Kirchhevel his second goal of the season.
Vermont’s Robert Polesello spoiled Skoff’s shutout bid, finishing a passing combination from Nick Luukko and Brett Bruneteau by firing the puck from the slot past Skoff.
Bailey then added the insurance goal, knocking home a rebound in a scrum in front of Hoffman for his 11th goal of the season, with Holstrom and Brian Dolan assisting.
Kyle Mountain netted the final score with 11 seconds left for Vermont (6-12-4).
The Catamounts outshot the Nittany Lions 36-32, and Hoffman made 28 saves.
Penn State has another tough weekend next week, returning to Big Ten competition with a visit to Michigan State for two games.