The Penn State men’s hockey team was relentless with its pressure on Holy Cross on Friday night at Pegula Ice Arena, and finally made it pay off.
The Nittany Lions had a 50-30 shot disparity, put didn’t pull away until Eric Scheid and Casey Bailey scored third-period goals for a 3-1 victory.
Ricky DeRosa scored earlier for Penn State (2-1-2), Matthew Skoff made 29 saves and the Lions took the opener of the weekend series.
The teams meet again at noon Sunday to complete the series.
Scott Pooley scored the lone goal for the Crusaders (1-3-1).
Penn State took advantage of 10 Holy Cross penalties, giving the Lions eight power plays and a pair of 5 on 3 advantages, although only cashing in for one power play goal despite 18 shots with a man advantage.
“The putts just weren’t sinking,” was coach Guy Gadowsky’s golf analogy to the difficulties. “But if you keep getting birdie putts, I mean, sooner or later it’s going to go in.”
Dylan Richard appeared to give Penn State a 1-0 lead with 1:09 left in the first, chipping the puck around a defenseman along the boards, then swooping in on the net, poking the puck past Matt Ginn and flying over the goalie’s legs and stick. The play was reviewed and the officials determined Richard interfered with the goalie before he slipped past Ginn on the far side of the net, drawing a two-minute penalty instead of a goal.
“We joked about it, we laughed about it,” Richard said of the team reaction in the locker room after the period ended. “We knew there was still 40 minutes left to play. We knew we had lots of time, still 0-0. We just tried to focus on the last two-thirds of the game.”
Gadowsky, who saw a replay of the disallowed goal during the first intermission, said goalie interference is a point of emphasis for the officials this season. He summoned the two referees over to the Penn State bench when they returned to the ice and had a very heated and animated conversation.
“I don’t agree with that at all,” Gadowsky said. “I’m very anxious to see what the league says about it after they see the tape. To me that was probably the prettiest goal we’ve scored all year.”
The hard part was shaking off the lost score and trying to get the puck past Ginn, who had 47 saves.
“We just mentioned, ‘Hey, we got the short end of the stick, but there’s nothing we can do about it,’” Gadowsky said. “I thought they did a great job in that period forgetting about it and moving on.”
Midway through the second period, another possible goal was reviewed in a collision involving DeRosa and Crusader Logan Smith. Holding was called on Holy Cross, and again there was no score.
DeRosa finally got one to count with 6:07 left in the second.
“We had so many chances before that,” DeRosa said. “It was a draw on the right side. It was actually Rocket (Richard) and David Glen out with me. I was playing the right side, we drew up, just try to win it back, get a shot, got to the net. Rocket kicked it forward, Glen had it on his stick, got it poke-checked and I just found it, was going to the net, found it, made a little move and put it on net right away.”
Pooley tied it with a blast from the slot as a maze of bodies in front of the net blocked Skoff.
With leads disappearing in both games of last weekend’s trip to Alaska, the Lions were worried about another one getting away, but Scheid put Penn State back on top midway through the third, poking in the puck from the doorstep on a power play after a blast from Kenny Brooks was redirected in front by Max Gardiner.
“To see that lead taken away again by a nice goal by them it was tough to see, especially after last weekend,” Scheid said. “We all were kind of upset after the way we left last weekend.”
A sweet pass by Holstrom across the slot set up Bailey for the third goal, with the junior easily tapping the puck into an open side of the net.
“Tonight we couldn’t seem to find the back of the net until the end,” Scheid said. “I’m not nervous or worried about the way we played on the power play. I thought we got a lot of chances on all the units.”
Notes: Despite injuries last weekend, both Holstrom and Koudys skated Friday night. … Assistant captain and defenseman Nate Jensen did not play. … Holy Cross was 0 for 3 on the power play, but didn’t have any chances after Richard’s penalty was killed off in the early moments of the second period. … The Penn State shot total was a season high.