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Penn State Hockey: Nittany Lions Face Wisconsin Friday Afternoon In Big Ten Semifinals

by on March 21, 2014 1:00 PM

A bounce on the goal line was all it could have taken for this to be a very different story.

But Eric Scheid didn't want to read about how the Nittany Lions had come so close to victory again, falling in yet another one goal game. So the forward kicked the spinning puck off the line and saved the day as the Nittany Lions suddenly had two goalies on the ice as Matthew Skoff recovered from the scramble at the front of his net.

Some times those are the bounces that you need, a tipped puck at the right speed can be the difference between a goal and a shot that goes wide of the net. A bouncing puck ready to benefit whoever touches it first the difference between winning in overtime and the end of a season.

Call it luck, call it the hockey gods, call it a good heads up play. Whatever it was, Penn State is alive and kicking in the Big Ten tournament as the Nittany Lions now sit a win away from a chance to play for the Big Ten title.

"I think we learned that we have guys with a lot of heart," Coach Guy Gadowksy said after the game. "I really like the fact that we were playing an excellent game and we allowed them to tie it up relatively late. I don't think our demeanor changed that much. I think that's something we learned."

The game itself was the longest in Penn State hockey's history, a two overtime tilt that seemed to be well on its way towards a third overtime before Zach Saar's faceoff wrister end the contest. How the Nittany Lions bounce back from the marathon for another game less than 24 hours later remains to be seen, but Gadowksy saw a lot that he liked from his team.

"I think it took us a while to sort of understand the mental strength it takes to play programs like Michigan and the other great programs in the Big Ten. Obviously those experiences helped us along the way. We've been in a lot of close games. I think what we learned today is we learned something along the season."

If the Big Ten tournament is Penn State's final exam on the year, it's safe to say that the Nittany Lions passed with flying colors on Thursday.

But Penn State isn't there just to pass, they're in it to win it.

Puck drop with Wisconsin is scheduled for 3:00 PM (EST) and the game will be live on the Big Ten Network.

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Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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