No. 4 Penn State was in good shape after two periods of play on Saturday inside the Wells Fargo Center.
The Nittany Lions (16-4-2) led by two goals, had not lost all season heading into the third period with a lead, and were well on their way to getting coach Guy Gadowsky his 250th career victory.
Princeton (8-11-2) had other things on its mind. The Tigers tallied three goals in the final period to top Penn State 5-4 in front of 15,127 at the Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff.
“Give Princeton a ton of credit,” Gadowsky told the media at the arena after the game. “They didn’t keep things bottled up. They came to win. They played offense, they played hard, I thought it was a raelly entertaining hockey game.”
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Penn State was 14-0-2 this season when leading at the start of the third.
Ben Foster’s goal with 1:26 to go was the dagger for the Nittany Lions, though it was filled with controversey. An earlier try had sailed up to the glass behind the net, and some thought the puck went out of play, but the rebound came right to Ryan Siiro, who sent it to Foster for the winner — after an official review.
“Three of our guys stopped playing, including (goalie Peyton) Jones,” Gadowsky said. “He saw it pretty clear that it hit the netting (above the glass), as did (defensemen) Trevor Hamilton and (Kevin) Kerr, and they all stopped. But, hey, play to the whistle, Princeton didn’t stop.”
The teams combined to score five goals in the first period.
The Nittany Lions got the board first with Andrew Sturtz converting on a pass from Chase Berger 51 seconds into the game. Princeton responded 34 seconds later to tie it up at 1-1 thanks to Max Becker.
David Hallisey gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead midway through the period.
David Goodwin and Kris Myllari closed out the first period with goals for Penn State. Sturtz tallied the lone goal of the second period to give the Nittany Lions a 4-2 lead. It was Sturtz’s 17th goal of the season.
Princeton picked up two goals in under two minutes to tie the game in the first 4:08 of the third, the first by Liam Grande, the second by Hallisey.
In between, Penn State had a 5 on 3 power play but could not cash in.
“I still don’t think that’s what cost us the hockey game,” Gadowsky said. “We could have definitely done ourselves a favor.”