It might not be well publicized, but Penn State and Ohio are huge rivals -- on the ice.
As Division I club teams playing in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA), Penn State and Ohio have met 84 times in a series that dates back to 1981. In this rivalry, the Nittany Lions have slightly had the upper hand with a record of 48-31-5 against the Bobcats.
David Glen was one of five Nittany Lions to tally goals in Friday's win.
These two teams have also met 5 times in the national championship game, with Ohio holding a slight three games to two edge. However, last season, the final season that both teams would compete as ACHA members, Penn State took the season series 4-0-0.
This past weekend, the two rivals met again as the now NCAA Division I Penn State men’s hockey team (10-13-0) swept a weekend series of exhibition games from the ACHA’s fifth- ranked Ohio Bobcats (22-6-3).
“Even though we turned D I this year, they still came to play,” said Penn State assistant captain George Saad. “It’s still pretty much the same team, same rivalry. I know in my mind I was up for the game.”
Friday night’s game was played at the GIANT Center in Hershey, the home of the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Hershey Bears. In front of a crowd of 6,107, the Nittany Lions controlled from the opening faceoff winning by a score of 6-1.
Freshman forward Casey Bailey led the way for the Nittany Lions scoring two goals, as his classmates Kenny Brooks and defenseman Mark Yanis notched a goal and two assists each. Also scoring for Penn State were forwards Michael Longo and David Glen.
On Saturday night, the Nittany Lions returned home to the Greenberg Ice Pavillion as the two teams faced off again. This one was a little less one-sided, but ultimately the Nittany Lions prevailed with a come from behind 5-3 victory.
The game was tied 2-2 entering the third period with Penn State on the power play. Less than a minute into the frame, as Ohio killed the man advantage, Brett Agnew broke out of the penalty box, took a pass and scored an easy fast break goal to put the Bobcats ahead 3-2.
With 10:33 remaining the comeback effort started. Sophomore defenseman Peter Sweetland took a shot from distance that was deflected and somehow found its way past Ohio goaltender Fedor Dushkin to tie the game 3-3.
“I just got it on net,” said Sweetland of his game-tying goal. “I did see it get tipped, but I could not see whose stick it was. It might not have been my goal.”
Then with 4:54 left, Glen tapped in a rebound moments before the net was knocked loose, to give Penn State a lead it would not relinquish.
In the final minute, with Dushkin pulled, Bailey gave the Nittany Lions some insurance with his second goal of the game, sealing a 5-3 win.
Given that Penn State is now an NCAA Division I team, and will be playing in the newly established Big Ten hockey conference next season, this past weekend marks final time this rivalry will be played for the foreseeable future.
“It’s been a great rivalry for a lot of years,” said Ohio coach Dan Morris. “Going on 30 solid years of great rivalry, it’s one that our players will miss, I think that a lot of our alumni will miss and probably Penn State alumni as well.”
On the other hand, Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky seemed to downplay the importance of this rivalry with Ohio going forward.
“I’d like to think that anytime we put on our jerseys, and there’s a Nittany Lion on it, that we’re going to play as hard as we can regardless,” said Gadowsky.
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