PITTSBURGH — The Penn State men’s ice hockey team kept on shooting, and eventually got the right shot at the right time.
Freshman Eric Sheid scored the game-winning goal with 1:40 left in regulation to give the Nittany Lions a 3-2 win over Robert Morris on the opening night of the Three Rivers Classic at Consol Energy Center on Friday.
“I think we played a very good game, and when you play a very good hockey game you sort of load the dice in your favor,” Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said. “I thought we did that. I thought we did a lot of things right. I think we had a lot of chances. When you play good hockey it seems the bounces go your way.”
Nate Jensen and Tommy Olczyk also scored for Penn State (4-9-1), which will face No. 7 Boston College in the championship game at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The Eagles, who will be the highest-ranked opponent in the Lions’ brief history, beat Bowling Green 5-0 in the first game of the night.
With 8,533 on hand, including a large contingent of Lions fans, Penn State rallied with a pair of third-period goals in the third one-goal game between the teams in four meetings. Olczyk tied the game 9:14 into the third with his fourth score of the season from Ricky DeRosa and David Thompson with a man advantage.
Taylor Holstrom and Patrick Koudys then set up Sheid’s team-leading eighth goal of the season. Sheid has picked up eight points in his last six games.
In all, the Nittany Lions peppered Colonials goaltender Terry Shafer with 62 shots — and 27 more Penn State shots were blocked by the Robert Morris defense.
“Terry Shafer deserved better,” Robert Morris coach Derek Schooley said. “Terry Shafer deserved some more help. I thought our team lost all the races, lost all the battles. I thought we got out-competed.”
Shafer’s 59 saves was a career high and tournament record.
“He played unbelievable tonight,” said Penn State goalie Matthew Skoff, who made 26 saves. “He definitely gave them more than a chance to win.”
The shot total was one off the program record of 63 set against American International, in last season’s opener, and marks the first time this season Penn State had posted better than 50 shots in a game.
David Glen and Curtis Loik set up Jensen’s second-period power-play score.
Tyson Wilson and David Friedmann netted the Colonial goals in the second period.
Penn State finished 2-for-5 on the power play and have netted 13 goals with a man advantage this season — surpassing the total of 12 from last season.
The result ended a six-game losing skid for the Nittany Lions, who had played well in their last game, a 4-3 loss at Wisconsin in early December, but had not been on the ice for a game in three weeks.
“I thought we carried over pretty well (from the last game),” said Gadowsky, whose team won for the first time this season when trailing after two periods. “You saw a lot of things tonight that we did well at Wisconsin and I think we got confidence from the game that we played.”