Penn State Hockey: Nittany Lions Come Up Short 3-2 Against No. 2 Boston College
How It Happened: After falling 8-2 to Boston College earlier in the season, the Nittany Lions came out hoping to prove their worth to the No. 2 ranked team in the nation.
Penn State did just that falling 3-2 at the Pegula Ice Arena on Saturday night. Boston College opened the scoring 7:40 into the game as the puck trickled behind freshman goaltender Eamon McAdam. Penn State would get 11 shots on goal, bettering the Eagles' seven shots in the opening 20 minutes.
Penn State made it an even affair just 6:45 into the second period as Eric Scheid crashed the net and punched in the puck past Boston College netminder Thatcher Demko who made a game-high 33 saves. Boston College would go up 2-1 with just over four minutes to go in the second period as one of the nation's best in Johnny Gaudreau slotted the puck past McAdam on a 2-on-1 break.
The third period was all action as Kevin Hayes made it a 3-1 game early in a five-minute boarding major by Jonathan Milley only four minutes into the final frame. Penn State wasn't going down without a fight though and captain Tommy Olczyk was tripped on a shorthanded breakaway setting up a penalty shot. Olczyk was stopped by Thatcher but Taylor Holstrom scored on a shorthanded 2-on-1 only a few minutes later to make it a 3-2 game. Penn State would kill off a total of seven straight penalty minutes before heading back to even strength. The Nittany Lions came close to tying the game on several occasions but couldn't get it done in the final 10 minutes of play.
Turning Point: With the Nittany Lions very much in the game, Milley's five minute major put Penn State on the ropes in the game's final period. With both teams scoring over the five minute span it didn't technically cost Penn State the game but it kept the Nittany Lions in the defensive zone for an extended period of time. There's no guarantee that Penn State would have won had Milley not been penalized, but it limited the Nittany Lions' play in the third period.
Player of the Game: Boston College's Kevin Hayes scored the game winning goal, but Bill Arnold was credited with the primary assist on all three Eagles' goals. Demko also made several outstanding saves to keep Boston College ahead. On Penn State's side of thing McAdam was strong all game, making a handful of spectacular stops.
Stat of the Game: Two bench minors of too many men on the ice. Neither penalty led to a Boston College goal, but against a team of the Eagles' caliber each little mistake can be magnified. While the Nittany Lions have greatly improved their ability to stay out of the penalty box, those mental errors could have cost Penn State the game. From a numbers perspective, five different players registered three or more shots for the Nittany Lions.
What It Means: Penn State has now held its own against the top two teams in the nation. The wins will come sooner or later, but even closes losses to some of the nation's best in the first real season of Division I hockey for Penn State is a hopeful sign.
On Deck: Penn State faces Ohio State next on the road on Jan. 31 for the first of a two-game series.