Penn State men's hockey coach Guy Gadowsky wasn't in love with his Nittany Lions' effort in the first period, but a strong showing in the second and third was enough to earn a 5-2 win against the U.S. National Under-18 Team Friday night at the Greenberg Ice Pavilion.
He probably should have known his Lions would struggle to find their rhythm in the first period though, as trouble started early.
Due to technical difficulties, Penn State's student section needed to pick up the slack for a botched National Anthem, but the result, as Gadowsky put it, was just as good.
"Isn't this the coolest school in the world?" he asked. "It is."
Down 0-2 with more than 19 minutes left in the second period, the Nittany Lions made a mentality change, Gadowsky said. After getting out shot 18-5 in the first period, they had no choice, he said.
Fortunately for Gadowsky and the Lions, though, Matt Skoff in goal was enough to provide solid footing in the second and third period despite getting outshot, 49-30.
Said U.S. coach Don Granato, "He kept the score tight. It could have been a bigger spread for Penn State to come back from but he did a great job to keep them in the game."
With only five defensemen in front of him, Skoff had to make some "dynamite" saves, Gadowsky said. He also said he had to give the defensive line credit for helping Penn State come back in the game.
"The team really stepped up. They started to shoot pucks more often," Skoff said. "The way the team responded after the second goal was exactly what we needed."
Specifically, a Kenny Brooks goal on the power play in the second period built momentum on what had been a stagnant showing to that point. From there, a strong performance by defenseman Mark Yanis, who returned for his first game in two months, helped shut out the U.S. club for the rest of the match.
Connor Clifton and J.T Compher were the two goal scorers for the U.S. team.
Penn State saw a good distribution of scoring throughout the night. George Saad scored the first three minutes in the second, Brooks scored 11 minutes into the second, Joseph Lordo started the scoring the third period with Tommy Olczyk and Brooks adding an empty netter to seal the win for the Nittany Lions with less than a minute remaining,
The Nittany Lions will suit up again Saturday for a 7:30 p.m. rematch at Greenberg.