Penn State men’s hockey head coach Guy Gadowsky admitted he had no idea what to expect going into his team’s first game at the Division I level, but his Nittany Lions came out with a series split during the weekend set against American International College, including the program’s first NCAA Division I victory.
Freshman Casey Bailey celebrates Penn State's first goal at the NCAA Division I level.
The Yellow Jackets - who finished last in the Atlantic Hockey Association standings during 2011-12 with an 8-24-1 record - took the season opener against Penn State on Friday night, winning 3-2 in overtime. Despite outshooting American International 63-29 on Friday - freshman goalie Matt Skoff stopped 26 shots in his first NCAA start - Penn State was playing from behind all night.
“Obviously we want to convert those more,” said Gadowsky of the team’s shot total. “I was happy with the work ethic. I give (AIC goaltender Ben Meisner) a lot of credit. He played very well. I was happy with how the defensemen jumped in.”
Freshman Casey Bailey scored the program’s first goal, and junior forward Taylor Holstrom scored the game-tying goal in the third period, in front of a sold-out crowd of 1,300 at the Greenberg Ice Pavilion. The Yellow Jackets held leads of 1-0 and 2-1 before netting the game-winner with 21 seconds remaining in the extra frame, but Gadowsky remained upbeat about the team’s season-opening performance.
“I am thrilled right now,” said Gadowsky following Friday’s defeat. “I thought we played great. We had no idea what we had. We had no idea if we would be ill-matched. We generated a lot of offense. Twenty shots each period is fantastic.
“It is hard to say why I feel so good after an overtime loss but I am really happy.”
Shaking off the opening loss, Penn State rallied to a 4-3 victory on Saturday at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes Barre, where freshman David Glen scored just 39 seconds into overtime in front of 5,389 fans.
It was Glen’s second goal of the game - the Canadian bookended the scoring for Penn State - while classmates Jonathan Milley and defenseman Mark Yanis each scored their first goal in Blue and White.
Glen scored two goals on Saturday, including the game-winner in overtime.
Sophomore goaltender PJ Musico got the start between the pipes, turning away 32 of 35 Yellow Jacket shots to earn the first victory of this young season.
Gadowsky addressed how he plans on dealing with the highs and lows of this season, trying not to put too much stock into wins and losses throughout the independent schedule.
“We established before that we wanted guys who are hungry and who are willing to build a foundation,” admitted Gadowsky on Friday. “It is just not about wins and losses.
“We have a lot to be proud of, especially our offense. We see a lot of optimism for our future. I think they also know that looking at what they have accomplished they will be optimistic about the future.”
Penn State now embarks on a road trip to the Empire State, where the Nittany Lions will visit NCAA Division III opponent Buffalo State (0-0) on Friday before traveling to Rochester and taking on NCAA Division I side RIT (1-1) on Saturday at Blue Cross Arena. The latter traveled up to Ann Arbor and defeated Michigan 5-4 in overtime on Friday, before dropping the following contest 7-2.