Talk about taking the drama all the way down to the final second.
The Penn State men’s hockey team showed its season was good to the last drop — and last second — at Pegula Ice Arena.
The Nittany Lions gave their enthralled fans one final, memorable game to complete a weekend sweep of No. 16 Michigan with a 4-3 win Saturday evening at Pegula Ice Arena.
Sophomore David Goodwin netted a goal and assisted on the three other scores as Penn State (18-12-4, 10-7-1 Big Ten) celebrated Senior Day, sending off seven seniors with a festive home finale.
“It’s huge, it’s awesome,” said senior team captain Patrick Koudys. “Looking back, first game (in the building) us seniors played here we won, and the last game, so it’s pretty awesome. A lot of emotions in the locker room, that’s for sure.”
The Nittany Lions also clinched the first winning season in their short Division I history, finished 13-2-3 at home this season, earned a weekend sweep in the conference for a third time, took 3 of 4 from Michigan (19-13, 11-7) this season and holds a 6-3 record against the Wolverines the last two years.
“I just really don’t like ’em,” Goodwin said. “It really kind of lights a fire under me a little bit. It’s just one of those things, they just kind of get under my skin a little bit and I like to just retaliate by putting the puck in the net.”
Goodwin posted Penn State’s second four-point game of the season. He also had one at Wisconsin in December.
Scott Conway, Erik Autio and Tommy Olczyk also scored for Penn State as the conference standings got bunched up again. With Ohio State beating Minnesota and Michigan State dropping Wisconsin, the Spartans lead the conference by a point over the Wolverines and Gophers and by three over the Nittany Lions.
“This is something that we won’t forget,” coach Guy Gadowsky said. “Any time you’re able to sweep Michigan is huge. It feels great. I think it’s something to look back on down the road and gain a lot of confidence from this.”
Senior P.J. Musico made 31 saves for his sixth win of the season and 10th of his career.
“Obviously it’s a great win, especially against Michigan and at home,” Musico said. “It was fun to come out with it, and luckily I had these guys on my back to help me out.”
He stood strong as the Wolverines unleashed a final flurry of tries in the closing seconds.
Off a draw with 11 seconds left, the puck slid back to Dylan Larkin at the point for a shot that Musico gloved but could not hold. Zach Hyman and J.T. Compher — who already had a hat trick — each had tries at the rebound but Musico was able to keep the puck from crossing the net, with the whistle blowing as Michael Downing slid through the crease, and Musico, to dislodge the net with 6.4 seconds left and the Wolverines celebrating what they thought was a tying goal, although the referee was waving off the score.
“I made a save, I think,” Musico deadpanned, looking at his teammates for confirmation. “I look around and I’m trying to find the puck. It was behind me, so I was somehow able to fish around, grab it with my glove. The guy just kind of grasped, pushed my glove in. Luckily the refs were on our side for that one.”
The officials reviewed the play and confirmed there was no score.
It was a dramatic emotional swing for Michigan.
“The referee thought the puck was covered when he blew the whistle,” was the explanation coach Red Berensen received after the review. “I thought I could see it from the bench, and it was still in play and it ends up we saw it go in the net. Of course he said he blew the whistle.”
Even after that drama, the Wolverines won the ensuing faceoff and got off one more shot, but it sailed wide.
Steve Racine made 27 saves for Michigan.
“It’s obviously a setback,” Berenson said. “We were playing better than that, and we didn’t show it this weekend.”
The Wolverines also were held to a 0 for 4 day on the power play, including a 5 on 3 advantage for more than a minute in the second period.
“That’s something we’re fearful of,” Gadowsky said. “We know we took too many penalties (Friday). When that happened and we went down … the feel on the bench was rather calm. It wasn’t panicky. The fact that it turned out well, I thought that was a really big lift for the whole game.”
Penn State was 0 for 3 with a man advantage.
Goodwin opened the scoring 3:38 into the game, the fifth straight game the Lions found the net first. From the corner Casey Bailey fed the puck back to Koudys at the point, and the senior captain sent a rocket that clanged off the post and danced behind Racine in the crease. Standing next to the net, Goodwin reached over and poked in the rebound for his 14th goal of the season.
Michigan tied it later in the first in a rush up the ice, with Compher poking the puck past Musico.
Conway had the Lions back in front 91 seconds later as he and Goodwin raced ahead on a 2 on 2 break while the Wolverines were completing a line change, with Conway redirecting Goodwin’s feed for the freshman’s 10th goal of the season.
“It was, I’ll say half-blind (pass), half knowing he was there,” Goodwin said. “I knew he’d have some space. Definitely a little bit of luck. He did a great job driving the net.”
Michigan, and Compher, tied it again with 1:18 left in the first seconds into a Penn State power play, with Andrew Copp pouncing on a puck as it slid out of the Michigan end to start a 2 on 1 break, setting up Compher for the score.
Autio put Penn State back in the lead again, unleashing a blast from the high slot seconds after Michigan had killed a power play.
Olczyk made it a two-goal advantage, knocking in rebound from the side of the net for his eighth goal of the season.
With Racine pulled for an extra attacker with more than three minutes remaining, Compher completed his hat trick with 1:34 left, left alone to knock in a rebound for his 11th score of the season.
But the Wolverines’ final desperate attempts did not produce a score.
“It’s chaos,” Musico said of the final seconds. “They have so many skilled guys. You know that any guy is a threat at any time. (I am) pretty much trying to stay calm and trust your team.”
Notes: Penn State closes the regular-season schedule Friday and Saturday at No. 15 Minnesota, with 8 p.m. faceoffs both days. … The announced attendance was 6,026. Penn State sold out all but one game all season and all but three in two seasons. … Eric Scheid and David Glen also had assists, and Bailey finished with a pair of helpers. … The two assists give Bailey 18 for the season, and coupled with his team-leading 22 goals, the junior became the program’s first 40-point scorer. … Before the game, seven seniors were honored including Musico, Koudys, Nate Jensen, Peter Sweetland, Max Gardiner, Jacob Friedman and Taylor Holstrom. Holstrom, the team-leader in assists with 26, missed the game with a leg injury.