It could have been a game Penn State hockey fans would have been talking about for years.
It will definitely be one the Nittany Lions will brood over the rest of the season.
Penn State spotted Ohio State a four-goal lead, then rallied with four goals in the final 12 minutes to force overtime, complete with Casey Bailey’s score with 21.9 seconds left for a hat trick.
But Anthony Greco scored on a breakaway with 45.9 seconds left in overtime to give the Buckeyes a 5-4 win Friday night at Pegula Ice Arena.
“A hat trick doesn’t mean much when you lose the game,” Bailey said after the first three-goal game of his career. “Early on I didn’t have my best game. I think I came out with a little more fuel in the third. That had something to do with us being a little embarrassed after the second (period).”
It was the second in the program’s Division I history, and the first since David Glen had one in February 2013.
Luke Stork scored twice and Christian Lampasso had a goal and two assists to pace Ohio State (7-9-2, 2-2 Big Ten). Nick Schilkey added the other Buckeye tally.
David Goodwin added the other Penn State goal to go with two assists in the team’s first home game in 70 days after nine straight away from home.
The teams will meet again at 3 p.m. Saturday to close the weekend set.
Penn State, which could have posted its biggest comeback win in program history, had last played at home Oct. 31.
Controversey dogged the game-winning goal.
The Nittany Lions were flying high heading into overtime after the huge rally, but when the puck glided into the neutral zone and Erik Autio collected it to reset the offense, it appeared Tanner Fritz tripped the freshman defenseman, although there was no call from the officials. Greco scooped up the loose puck and raced down the ice to beat goalie P.J. Musico for the winner.
“From where I was it looked like we were going to get on the power play,” coach Guy Gadowsky said. “My emotions were, ‘Great, we’re going to get a power play,’ to ‘We just lost the game.’”
The senior goalie slumped in the crease for nearly a minute after surrendering the goal. He had entered early in third period after starter Matthew Skoff had allowed the Buckeyes’ third goal.
As frustrated as the Nittany Lions were over how the final seconds transpired, they were dwelling more on how they got into such a deep hole, especially after dominating play for most of the first period, though it didn’t produce a goal.
“The refs didn’t lose the game for us,” Gadowsky said. “We lost the game in the second period. … We were complacent. I don’t think we had the fight. I think we were looking for a soft game, not a tough game.”
“At the end of the day, that’s not the reason we lost,” forward Eric Scheid said of the final sequence. “We lost because we gave up four goals early on and waited too long to try to get ourselves back into it.”
The Buckeyes finally made the Lions pay for the lax play in the second period with two goals in the final four minutes of the frame, first with a score from Stork, then from Lampasso.
It got worse just 59 seconds into the third, when Stork scored again to chase Skoff, who made 22 saves.
“I thought it was something that we should have had,” said Gadowsky, who wanted to send a message both to Skoff and the rest of the team with the change. “… I thought it might be something to spur the team on.”
Less than two minutes later, Schilkey beat Musico with a wrap-around goal, and the win almost seemed secure.
Then it was time for Bailey to get the building fired up.
First, he pounced on a rebound after a shot from Patrick Koudys from the point with 13:03 left. Just 1:09 later, after the junior winger had fired a shot from a tight angle by the boards, the puck fluttered in the slot and he knocked it past goalie Christian Frey. Taylor Holstrom and James Robinson picked up assists.
Then it was Goodwin’s turn, sending a shot from the high slot that bounced off a Buckeye defenseman and sailed past Frey. Luke Juha and Erik Autio grabbed assists.
Then came the equalizer, when the Nittany Lions had Musico pulled for an extra attacker and continued to pepper Frey, who had 53 saves. After tries by Goodwin and Scheid, the puck bounced to Bailey in the left circle and he ripped it just inside the post to ignite the building with his team-leading 14th goal of the season.
“You feel like the ice is tilted your way when you score there late,” Bailey said. “I thought we put some pressure on them early in the overtime. We had some confidence. It’s unfortunate to catch a break like that.”
After giving up the one quick goal, Musico was tested a few more times but was solid in giving the Lions a chance with eight saves.
“Once they felt maybe ashamed that it got to the point that Matt Skoff was pulled,” Gadowsky said, “or maybe embarrassed to the point you look at the scoreboard, either way when they started to battle we obviously played a lot better.”
Notes: Penn State’s Jan. 24 contest against Northern Michigan will face off at 4:30 p.m. and be shown on BTN. … Before the game Gadowsky was honored for earning his 200th career coaching win. He picked up the win at the beginning of the road trip, when the Lions beat Massachusetts-Lowell on Nov. 15. … Bailey and Holstrom are both nominated for the Hobey Baker Award, given to the nation’s best college hockey player. Fans can cast votes online at www.hobeybaker.com.