The Penn State hockey team is getting pretty good at the comeback story.
Once again the Nittany Lions fell behind in the second period, and once again they roared back in the third.
David Thompson picked the right time for his first career collegiate goal, netting the game-winner in a 4-2 win over No. 14 Vermont on Saturday afternoon at Wells Fargo Center in the Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff.
Casey Bailey had a goal and an assist for his ninth multi-point game of the season, and Scott Conway and David Goodwin netted the other goals for the Nittany Lions (13-7-4), who are unbeaten in their last six games.
In his first start of the season, P.J. Musico earned the win, making 33 saves for the team’s second win over a ranked opponent this season.
After winning their final non-conference game of the season, Penn State finished the month of January 4-1-2 and scored at least four goals for the sixth time in those seven games. The Nittany Lions also have scored 16 third-period goals during that span.
A pair of natives from the Philadelphia suburbs connected for the winner in front of the 11,674 mostly Penn State-partisan crowd, with Ricky DeRosa, of Aston, feeding Thompson, of Glen Mills, for a one-timer from the top of the faceoff circle.
“How perfect was that?” Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said. “A Philadelphia kid passes to another Philadelphia guy and he scores the game-winner.”
The win comes on the heels of a loss and tie last weekend against Northern Michigan after falling behind by multiple goals.
The Catamounts (15-9-2) had two quick strikes midway through the second period for their scores, with Brady Shaw opening the scoring and Mario Puskarich converting on a power play 1:53 later. Vermont was 1 for 6 on the power play Saturday.
But the momentum swung back quickly with Luke Juha and Taylor Holstrom setting up a Bailey blast from the circle just 14 seconds later. Bailey, who entered the day in the nation’s top five in goal-scoring, netted his 18th of the season.
Penn State then faced a 5 on 3 power play for Vermont for the first 1:16 of the third period. The Lions gave up just three shots while killing off the two penalties, and the momentum was even more on their side.
Conway tied it just over two minutes later, banging home a rebound from the doorstep with help from Eric Scheid and Erik Autio. Conway’s sixth score of the season came on a power play, just the seventh surrendered all season on a man advantage by Vermont, which entered the game with the second-best penalty-killing unit in Division I.
Thompson then won it with 3:09 left, with just the third goal of the season by a Lion defenseman, and Goodwin got an empty-net tally to close the scoring as Penn State outshot Vermont 18-9 in the final period. Patrick Koudys picked up assists on both scores.
The score was the 11th of the season for Goodwin, capping a four-goal day for the team against a Vermont defense that was allowing fewer than two goals a game this season, third-best in the nation.
Mike Santaguida made 35 saves as the Nittany Lions outshot the Catamounts 39-35.
The Nittany Lions return home, and to Big Ten action, next weekend when they host a two-game series against Wisconsin starting Friday.