UNIVERSITY PARK — It was a night of highlights and lowlights for the Penn State ice hockey team, of apparent goals that didn’t count — and a shootout that also didn’t count.
In the end, the Nittany Lions experienced the first tie in the program’s brief history.
Penn State and the Rochester Institute of Technology skated to a 3-3 deadlock Friday night at Pegula Ice Arena, adding another milestone to the list of firsts for the new season in the team’s new home.
That the game ended officially as a tie also was news to some Nittany Lions.
“Honestly, I didn’t know that’s how the rule worked,” said David Goodwin, who scored a goal. “I guess, regardless, we play to win and it doesn’t really matter.”
“It feels like a loss,” said Dylan Richard, who netted his first career goal and had the game’s first score. “We played a great game today. They capitalized on some chances, but it feels like a loss, because we did lose.”
Curtis Loik also found the net for Penn State (1-2-1), while Adam Mitchell, Mike Colavecchia and Brad McGowan scored for the Tigers (0-3-2).
Matthew Skoff stopped 22 shots for the Nittany Lions, while counterpart Jordan Ruby made 32 saves.
RIT’s Alex Perron-Fontaine and Colavecchia both scored during the shootout that didn’t really count, while Eric Scheid was stopped and Loik missed on Penn State’s two shootout attempts.
Most of the Nittany Lions skated off the ice thinking the game was a loss.
“I don’t know if it was confusion,” Goodwin said. ‘We just weren’t aware.”
The shootouts will count once play begins on the Big Ten schedule, but coach Guy Gadowsky said it was good for everyone to experience the situation.
“This is great to get used to it,” Gadowsky said. “It’s the first time our (Zamboni) driver ever did that (resurface the middle of the ice), I think. It’s a good run-through. But it doesn’t matter. You always want to win.”
Richard’s first career goal completed a sparkling skating exhibition, when he put a move on a defenseman between the circles and slipped the puck past Rudy during a 4-on-4 situation 6:15 into the game.
“I tried to make a play through the guy’s stick,” Richard said. “I almost lost it, then tried to tuck it five-hole. Thankfully it went in.”
The Nittany Lions could not hang onto the lead for long, when Mitchell took a feed from McGowan from behind the net and from the slot fired the puck over Skoff’s left shoulder for a power-play goal. It was the Tigers’ first shot on goal and only attempt on net in nearly the first 13 minutes of action to open the game.
Then the Nittany Lions got into some penalty difficulties, and RIT eventually earned a 4-on-3 advantage. On the Tigers’ first shot 12 seconds into the advantage, Colavecchia fired the puck from the point past Skoff.
In the final minute of the first period, Kenny Brooks was whistled for elbowing, and on the same play David Glen drew a penalty when he collided with Nolan Descoteaux. Glen received a five-minute major and a game misconduct.
Gadowsky had a rather animated discussion with the officials at the end of the second intermission.
“They collided and one guy went down,” Gadowsky said. “That’s my problem and that’s what my discussion (with the officials) was — it seems now that if one guy goes down and gets hurt, it doesn’t matter. It’s a penalty.”
The Nittany Lions were able to kill the penalties, but Goodwin and Casey Bailey had to pull double shifts for the loss of Glen over the final two periods.
“It was tough physically,” Goodwin said. “Sometimes when you’re out there every other shift it’s easier to stay in it mentally because you don’t have as much time off.”
Penn State finally converted on a power play, when a pair of RIT forwards got caught in the Nittany Lion end as Penn State took off on a 3-on-2 break, with Eric Sheid on a wing feeding Goodwin for a one-timer to tie the game.
“I just tried to take my time and find an open space,” Goodwin said. “Eric made a phenomenal pass. (Zach) Saar was driving the net, so it was a great goal for our line.”
Loik gave Penn State the lead back with 11:13 left, skating in near the right circle and flipping the puck softly at Ruby. The Tiger keeper misplayed the puck as it bounced over his pad and into the net.
“We didn’t know it went in at first,” said Richard, who watched the play from the bench. “Really, it caught everyone by surprise.”
“The student section helped us out on that one,” Goodwin added.
McGowan then tied it about four minutes later when, with a pile of bodies in front of the net, he took a feed from Dan Shuler and sent the puck top-shelf into an open net.
It appeared Kenny Brooks gave the Lions the lead again about two minutes later, sending a high shot from a tight angle that Ruby mishandled and the puck rolled down his back and tantalizingly close to the line, but it was cleared away.
“The penalties aside, I think everyone on our team felt that we carried the play,” Goodwin said. “If we stay out of the box, I think everyone was confident in our ability to take the game.”
Notes: Friday’s game brought 6,211 to the second game at Pegula Ice Arena. … Penn State will face Vermont at 5 p.m. Saturday at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Better than 16,000 tickets have been sold for the game. … Gadowsky changed up the team’s four forward lines for Friday, and was unsure if there would be more line shuffling for Saturday. … RIT was 2 for 6 on power plays, Penn State was 1 for 5.