For the third straight game, the Penn State men’s hockey team peppered the opposing goalie with shots, and it resulted in a third straight win.
The Nittany Lions’ offense is definitely on a role these days.
With goals from Casey Bailey, Curtis Loik and David Goodwin, the Nittany Lions dropped Bentley 3-2 Thursday night at Pegula Ice Arena.
Matt Maher and Max French netted the goals for Bentley (3-3).
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The teams complete the two-game series at 7 p.m. Friday in the Nittany Lions’ final home game of 2014.
The Nittany Lions (4-1-2) put a deluge on Falcons goalie Gabe Antoni, with a 54-26 margin in shots. Penn State registered a 95-59 shot advantage last weekend in two games against Holy Cross.
“I just think it’s the way we’re driving the net,” Bailey said. “When we drive through the middle it opens up a lot of area for us to get those shots off it makes it a lot easier. We have a mentality that everybody’s going to do that, so it’s making everybody drive to the net. I definitely think our team’s … doing a lot better at getting shots to the net this season so far.”
For the game, adding in the shots blocked by the defense, hit the post or flew wide of the net, Penn State released 95 attempts. The Nittany Lions entered the game averaging 40.33 shots on goal per game, second in the nation.
“I’m happy with the chances,” coach Guy Gadowsky said. “We feel that you can generate really good chances by shooting the puck. Are all 54 going to be Grade A opportunities? Absolutely not, but we don’t expect it.”
Antoni finished with 51 saves, giving his team a chance Thursday.
“I thought we had a real nice offensive hunger,” Gadowsky said. “I thought we had a lot of chances.”
Antoni’s counterpart, Matthew Skoff, made 24 saves for the win, and Gadowsky said the junior will remain the team’s starter.
“It’s nice to give other guys work, but he’s just, he’s on,” Gadowsky said. “These are very important games for us. He deserves it through what he’s done this year and last year, and how he is as a teammate and his work ethic. … Right now he’s on a roll and we’re going to ride it.”
Bentley hit the net first, with a Maher slap shot from the point knuckling past Skoff.
Penn State responded with Bailey poking in a rebound after a Taylor Holstrom shot from the side of the net.
“It was just a scrum in front,” Bailey said. “(I) saw the puck laying there, threw one hand on my stick, poked it in. … Not the prettiest goal but it doesn’t matter.”
Loik put the Lions in the lead when he lifted his stick up off the ice a few inches to redirect Patrick Koudys’ slap shot and bounce it past Antoni.
Goodwin made it a two-goal lead when he knocked in Holstrom’s feed from the side. Both Goodwin and Bailey were alone in front of the net on the play and each took a swipe at the puck before Goodwin converted.
“I had no idea Goodwin was behind me,” Bailey said. “I thought the pass was to me and I tried to deflect it in. It kind of just deflected off my stick, I slowed it down for Goodwin kind of, in a sense, and thankfully he was there to put it in or it probably wouldn’t have been a goal.”
The line of Goodwin, Holstrom and Bailey has been hot this season, combining for 10 goals and 15 assists through seven games.
“We’re working hard,” Holstrom said. “We’re getting the pucks deep, we’re doing the little things, we’re getting some bounces here and there, but I think it just comes down to getting pucks on net and going to the net.”
French cut the lead to one during the waning seconds of a power play early in the third period, knocking in a rebound, to close the scoring.
Notes: Following Friday’s game, the Nittany Lions do not play at home again until meeting Ohio State on Jan. 9. … On the power play, Penn State was 1 for 3. Bentley was 2 for 4. … Center David Glen was lost to an upper body injury early in the game. Gadowsky did not disclose the severity, saying “nothing broken, but we’re not going to see him (Friday).” … The first-period Falcon goal was just the third allowed by Penn State this season in the period. … The Lions have given up four power play goals this year, with half of them Friday. … The win was the team’s first come-from-behind win this season.