A pair of rapid-fire strikes from the school’s all-time leading goal-scorer relatively early in the first period and continued strong play between the pipes from the formerly out-of-favor sophomore netminder thereafter propelled the visiting PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS to a most sensational 4-1 triumph over the # 4 ranked UNIVERSITY of MASSASCHUSETTS – LOWELL RIVER HAWKS and a highly deserved split of this surprising NCAA non-conference weekend series in New England.
The River Hawks have been definitely rotating goaltenders to start this 2014/15 campaign but the conspicuous fact that UMass/Lowell made three other changes to its line-up from Friday night’s match was, perhaps, an indication that the home side who came into the weekend series as the highest scoring team in all the land were feeling a tad overconfident for the Saturday night date with Penn State, still, of course, only just beginning their third-ever season as a Division I ice hockey program.
Penn State came out skating hard and, as usual, ready to have a shot at goal from any angle whatsoever. The Nittany Lions were then presented with an early power play opportunity and took full advantage soon enough. Casey Bailey, the 22-year-old junior right wing from Anchorage, Alaska, who has been in lethal form this fall, wristed a long shot from the top of the right circle past Canadian legionnaire Jeff Smith, the 19-year-old freshman from Maple Ridge, British Columbia, immediately after a faceoff in the UMass/Lowell zone.
Penn State doubled its lead less than two minutes later when Bailey was left all alone in the slot. Nittany Lions center Taylor Holstrom, the 24-year-old redshirt senior from Yorba Linda, California, quickly sent a radar-like pass from behind the goal line and Bailey one-time the puck into the River Hawks net with a great deal of authority to score his second of the night and his team-leading eighth goal of this season. UMass/Lowell were completely stunned, as was most of the audience at the Paul E. Tsongas Center.
The River Hawks made several attempts in the opening twenty minutes to put themselves on the comeback trail but would find the path blocked by Penn State goaltender Eamon McAdam. The 20-year-old homegrown sophomore from Perkasie who was the third round selection (# 70 overall) of the New York Islanders at the 2013 National Hockey League Draft picked right up where he left off after coming off the bench for the Nittany Lions in Friday night’s contest and showed why NHL scouts had thought so highly of him in the first place. McAdam suffered through a freshman term (10 ga, 4.09 avg, .882 svpct), to review, and not appeared for Penn State since early of February of last season but showed he is ready to leave all that in the rear view mirror.
Penn State Nittany Lions goaltender Eamon McAdam (34) made ten starts as a freshman last term but posted the dubious record of zero wins against nine losses and had to sit out 21 consecutive NCAA contests before coming on in relief during Friday night’s game against the UMass/Lowell River Hawks.
The Nittany Lions added a third goal with only nineteen second left in the opening period to further dampen the spirits of the nation’s # 4 ranked ice hockey team. After continuous pressure in the UMass/Lowell zone, defenseman David Thompson, the 22-year-old homegrown sophomore from Glens Mills who missed five games this fall after being injured at the 2014 Brice Alaska Goal Rush tournament in Fairbanks, sent a shot from the right point in on net and right wing Eric Scheid was able to sweep the puck home on the backhand. It was the sixth goal of this season for Scheid, the 22-year-old redshirt junior from Blaine, Minnesota, who led Penn State with both 11 goals and 20 points in 36 NCAA games last season after transferring from the University of Alaska – Anchorage.
The visitors probably broke the River Hawks back by scoring yet again just 47 seconds into the second period. Right wing Tommy Olczyk, the 23-year-old senior from Long Grove, Illinois, who also scored in Friday night’s contest after sitting out four games in a row, sped down the right wing on a two-on-one before calmly slotting the puck home on a left-handed wrist shot. Assisting on Olczyk’s third goal of this season was none other than the influential Holstrom, who earned his third assist of the evening in the process.
Thereafter, the focus shifted onto McAdam, who kept the high-powered offense of UMass/Lowell off the scoreboard for more than fifty minutes on Saturday night. This after the seldom-used sophomore had stopped 17 of 18 shots faced in roughly thirty-one minutes the previoius evening. In all, McAdam limited the River Hawks to just two goals while stopping 40 shots during the weekend series in New England.
As for Penn State (now 6-2-2), this victory over # 4 ranked UMass/Lowell might very well rate as the greatest ice hockey result in school history thus far. Certainly, knocking off the # 18 ranked Wisconsin Badgers in Madison two years ago and beating the nine-time NCAA champion Michigan Wolverines to win the Nittany Lions’ first-ever Big Ten Conference tournament game were also spectacular accomplishments for the fledgling program. But a triumph over a Top Five team is a triumph over a Top Five team.
Penn State center Taylor Holstrom (28), who is one of just a handful of players leftover from the Nittany Lions’ well-documented “club hockey” days, leads all Division I college players with 13 assists and is tied with four other skaters for top scoring honors with 16 points this season.
November 15, 2014
Paul E. Tsongas Center – Lowell, Massachusetts
Attendance : 4,548
PENN STATE 4 – UMASS/LOWELL 1
06:17 … PSU – Bailey (Holstrom) – ppg
08:30 … PSU – Bailey (Holstrom, Goodwin)
19:41 … PSU – Scheid (Robinson, Thompson)
20:47 … PSU – Olczyk (Holstrom)
50:30 … UML – Z. Kamrass (Mueller, Chapie) – ppg
shots-on-goal : PSU 31 ( 13 + 10 + 8 ) – UML 25 ( 10 + 9 + 6 )
penalty minutes : UML 8 – PSU 6
power plays : UML 1/3 – PSU 1/4
UMASS/LOWELL : J. Smith (Boyle 20:47) – Z. Kamrass, Mueller ; Kapla, Zink ; Forney, Suter – Hollman, Maniccia, Chapie ; White, Campbell, Francis ; C. Smith, Gambardella, Edwardh ; Fallon, Colantone, J. Kamrass
PENN STATE : McAdam – Koudys, Thompson ; Juha, Autio ; Williamson, Sweetland – Goodwin, Holstrom, Bailey ; Robinson, Conway, Scheid ; Loik, Brooks, Olczyk ; DeRosa, Gardiner, Friedman