Guy Gadowsky didn’t even go into the Penn State hockey team’s locker room during the second intermission Friday.
He’d seen about as much as he could take.
After Penn State dominated the first period against Northern Michigan, the Wildcats owned the second and Penn State faced a two-goal deficit heading into the final period at Pegula Ice Arena. But the Nittany Lions (12-7-3) rallied furiously in the third and a three-goal period gave them a 5-4 win and gave Gadowsky some positive talking points afterward.
“It goes down for us as a really great win,” Gadowsky said. “But I can tell you, from the coaching staff perspective, we’re at a bit of a loss. We’re really getting frustrated with how we come out. It seems every time we play really well in the first we come out very, very flat in the second and we’re obviously not doing the job to prepare and motivate as well as we can going into the second.”
Dylan Richard scored twice, Casey Bailey added a power play goal late in the second period and David Glen and Scott Conway netted the game-tying and game-winning goals less than two minutes apart late in the third period to lift Penn State to the win. P.J. Musico relieved Matthew Skoff in the second and made 11 saves to secure the win.
After being outshot 21-7 in the first and trailing 1-0 thanks to a power play goal from Richard, Northern Michigan (9-9-5) took control of the game in the second period with four goals that chased Skoff from his net. It marked the second time in his last three starts Skoff had been chased from a game.
Barrett Kaib beat Skoff cleanly with a snap shot and Ryan Kesti gave Northern Michigan the lead when he was left uncovered in front and jammed the puck past the junior goalie. Northern Michigan’s Sami Salminen worked his stick through traffic in front and pushed a loose puck past Skoff eight minutes later and Kaib found the net again with a fluttering shot that ricocheted off Skoff’s glove and in.
“We did hang him out to dry,” Gadowsky said. “We didn’t play for him or each other.”
When Musico entered with just over five minutes left in the second period, he had to make a save on a breakaway immediately. It followed a Penn State power play where the Nittany Lions failed to record a shot on net.
They needed something to get them going as time ran to less than a minute left. Bailey took care of it.
The NCAA’s leading goal-scorer gave Penn State life with a rifle shot past Northern Michigan goalie Mathias Dahlstrom with 23 seconds left in the second period. The power play goal came with Jake Baker in the penalty box for crosschecking and Bailey’s blast — set up by Luke Juha — cut Northern Michigan’s lead to 4-2.
“You get a goal-scorer like that to put you on his back, that’s what it felt like a little bit,” Gadowsky said. “The Northern goaltender was just excellent tonight and it didn’t seem like we would get anything by him. ... That was a big-time goal. There’s not a lot of guys that could put it where he did on a one-timer with that velocity. That was pretty impressive.”
The third period looked more like the first for Penn State, save for the opening moments when Juha was called for tripping.
Out to kill the penalty, Eric Scheid picked up a loose puck along the boards and bolted toward Dahlstrom, blowing past the Northern Michigan defense in the process. Dahlstrom charged from his crease and flailed to the ice to stop Scheid and succeeded. But he knocked the puck back into the slot, where Richard was able to backhand it into an empty net.
“We knew exactly what we had to do to get back to our gameplan,” Richard said. “We just had to go out and play.”
And Penn State kept pressing in the third.
After a strong sequence from the top two lines, Glen’s line hopped on the ice and kept possession in Northern Michigan’s end. Glen, hanging out in the slot, dropped his stick blade to the ice and redirected a David Thompson shot from the point. The puck was shot flat but popped off of Glen’s stick over Dahlstrom’s right shoulder and into the corner of the net to tie the game.
About two minutes later, Dahlstrom found himself under siege again.
Scheid carried the puck out of the corner and tried to jam it through Dahlstrom. The puck slid behind the Northern Michigan goalie and out in front, where Conway tapped it in to give Penn State the lead for good.
“Scheid made a nice move the d-man and pulled the goalie out of position and I just tried to get to the net and hopefully the puck came to me,” Conway said. “Scheid slid it through and I just tapped one home.”
The two teams will play again at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
NOTES: Glen returned to the lineup after missing the last three games due to injury. ... Michigan beat Wisconsin 7-4 to take sole possession of the top spot in the Big Ten. Michigan is two points ahead of Penn State with a game in hand. ... Penn State fired 53 shots on goal to Northern Michigan’s 30. ... The Nittany Lions went 2-for-6 on the power play. ... James Franklin and Penn State football players Anthony Zettel and Christian Hackenberg all attempted to shoot pucks through a small slot into the net during the first intermission. Hackenberg and Zettel both missed. Franklin made his shot.