A pair of unanswered goals tallied less than four minutes apart rather late in the third period overcame a potentially-demoralizing equalizer scored earlier in the final frame as the determined Penn State Nittany Lions finished off the visiting Holy Cross Crusaders 3-1 in a tense NCAA non-conference meeting at the sold-out Pegula Ice Arena in State College.
The visitors from New England came out firing on all cylinders and outshot their hosts 14-10 in the opening twenty minutes of play but would find Penn State goaltender Matthew Skoff, the 23-year-old homegrown junior from McKees Rocks who has started all five of the Nittany Lions’ games thus far this season, a difficult puzzle to solve. Holy Cross was already well on the way towards spending nearly one-third of the game with at least one player in the penalty box, however, and this lack of discipline would prove to be the Crusaders’ undoing. Were it not for the fine form of Canadian legionnaire Matt Ginn, the 23-year-old senior from Lindsay, Ontario, who ended up with 47 saves, the home side surely would have been able to open the floodgates in earnest.
Penn State appeared to open the scoring at the tail end of the first period when Canadian legionnaire Dylan Richard lost his marker along the boards and made a strong move to the front of the net. The 21-year-old sophomore left wing from Sherwood Park, Alberta, was able to sweep the puck into the Holy Cross cage. But, alas, it was determined that Richard had committed a penalty for goaltender’s interference in the process of scoring and so the ‘goal’ was quickly waved off.
Nittany Lions left wing Dylan Richard (12) tied for tops on Penn State with eleven assists as a freshman last season and also recorded the relatively respectable defensive rating of -3 while skating for a squad that only won eight out of its thirty-six total contests.
The Nittany Lions did draw first blood in the second period, though, when Ricky DeRosa, the 22-year-old homegrown sophomore from Aston who was making just his third appearance of the new season, picked up a loose puck in the right face-off circle and cut inside towards the slot before quickly sneaking a wrist shot past Ginn at relatively close range to register his first goal of this 2014/15 NCAA campaign.
Despite being outshot by the overwhelming margin of 19-4 in the second period of play, Holy Cross were able to haul themselves level in the final frame after Penn State coughed up the puck in its own defensive zone. Crusaders left wing Castan Sommer, the homegrown junior from Shrewsbury whose father, Roy Sommer, skated three games with Wayne Gretzky & the Edmonton Oilers during the 1980/81 NHL season, sent a nice pass out from behind the net and right wing Scott Pooley, the 20-year freshman from Granges, Indiana, hammered his shot over Skoff’s shoulder while leaning on one knee to net his first-ever collegiate goal in impressive fashion. Holy Cross, who are, perhaps, most famous for their mammoth upset of the mighty University of Minnesota Golden Gophers in the first round of the 2006 NCAA men’s ice hockey tournament, were now in position to extend its all-time winning streak against the Nittany Lions to three games.
Given what had happened at the Brice Alaska Goal Rush tournament one week earlier, the remaining twelve and a half minutes of the Holy Cross contest would be a major test of Penn State’s character — but one that head coach Guy Gadowsky‘s troops would pass with flying colors.
The home side had failed on its first five power play attempts on Friday night but the sixth time proved to be a charm for Penn State, then. Nittany Lions right wing Kenny Brooks, the 22-year-old junior from Las Vegas, Nevada, blasted a hard, low slapshot from the left wing face-off circle that resurgent forward Max Gardiner, the 22-year-old senior from Deephaven, Minnesota, who was the third round choice (# 74 overall) of the St. Louis Blues at the 2010 NHL Draft, was able to redirect while well-positioned in the slot. Turing up at the right side of the net to stab home the rebound was center Eric Scheid, the 22-year-old redshirt junior from Blaine, Minnesota, who led Penn State in goal-scoring last season after transferring from the University of Alaska-Anchorage.
Scheid’s third goal of this new season (his second strike in as many matches) restored Penn State’s advantage with less than seven and a half minutes to play. Critically, the Nittany Lions continued to attack increase their lead still further as compared to just sitting back and protecting what had already been gained. Furthermore, much to the delight of the faithful at the Pegula Ice Arena, an all-important insurance marker arrived soon enough.
Penn State center Taylor Holstrom, the influential senior from Yorba Linda, California, who sat out the game with the Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks on account of injury, did yeoman’s work to collect a loose puck on the right wing in the offensive zone and quickly center for Casey Bailey lurking in the slot. The 22-year-old junior left wing from Anchorage, Alaska, easily swept the puck home to net his third goal of this 2014/15 NCAA campaign while closing the door on stubborn Holy Cross once and for all. Bailey and Scheid are joint top scorers but it is Holstrom leads the Nittany Lions with seven points (two goals) this term, it shall be noted.
Penn State right wing Ricky DeRosa (21), the southeastern Pennsylvania native who once skated for the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers but certainly was not considered to be a proverbial ‘high-profile recruit’ when first arriving on the college hockey scene last fall, still finished as the third-leading scorer among all Nittany Lions freshmen last season after totaling five goals and a dozen points in 32 NCAA games.
October 24, 2014
Pegula Ice Arena – State College, Pennsylvania
PENN STATE 3 – HOLY CROSS 1
33:29 … PSU – DeRosa (Glen)
47:23 … HC – Pooley (Sommer, Moore)
52:32 … PSU – Scheid (Gardiner, Brooks)- ppg
56:14 … PSU – Bailey (Holstrom, Koudys)
shots-on-goal : PSU 50 ( 10 + 19 + 21 ) – HC 30 ( 14 + 4 + 12 )
penalty minutes : HC 20 – PSU 8
power plays : PSU 1/9 – HC 0/3
PENN STATE : Skoff – Juha, Varley ; Autio, Williamson ; Koudys, Sweetland – Goodwin, Holstrom, Bailey ; Loik, Scheid, Robinson ; Glen, Gardiner, Brooks ; Richard, Conway, DeRosa
HOLY CROSS : Ginn – McNamara, Beckman ; Bolton, Smith ; Muratore, Nagy – Finn, Moore, Driscoll ; McKinnon, Lubanski, Vidal ; Dwyer, Youso, Gustin ; Sommer, Barrett, Pooley
Penn State goaltender Matthew Skoff increased his save percentage this season to .925 while lowering his goals-against-average this season to 2.14 in the triumph over visiting Holy Cross at the Pegula Ice Arena on Friday night … as a freshman two years ago, Skoff made 32 saves against the Crusaders on the road in Massachusetts but the Nittany Lions still lost their first-ever engagement with Holy Cross 5-4 in overtime.