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Penn State Hockey: Nittany Lions Pick Up Crucial 6-0 Victory Against Wisconsin

by on March 04, 2017 11:20 PM

For over a year Penn State captain David Goodwin has saved a tweet on his phone. 140 characters outlining a simple statistic; Penn State's chances of making the NCAA Tournament with a win and its chances of making it with a loss.

The team in question that weekend, Wisconsin.

The result, a loss. And ultimately, the Nittany Lions coming up short of a first-ever NCAA Tournament berth.

Fast forward months down the road and Goodwin once again finds himself facing Wisconsin, in a similar situation, with a similar need for a positive result. Coming off of a 7-4 loss to Wisconsin on Friday night it was Penn State facing what amounted to a must-win game. A victory would set the table for that first-ever berth. A loss and road would be far less straightforward.

So as Goodwin skated down the ice with 11:34 gone by in the first period the puck found his stick, a beautiful sequence from linemates Denis Smirnov and Nate Sucese, all Goodwin really had to do was finish.

And he did.

Up 2-0 there was a sense of relief within Pegula Ice Arena. Kris Myllari's goal 10:44 into the game broke the tension, but Goodwin's score just under a minute later blew the roof off. Suddenly fans --who had witnessed five straight winless games at home-- could sense that one of the nation's most explosive offenses was back, and in turn a shot at history.

The second period was far less open but David Thompson's shot was mistakenly redirected into the net by a Wisconsin defender, and a safe 2-0 lead turned into a 3-0 blowout in the making.

Goodwin made sure that blowout happened.

Once again working down the middle of the ice Goodwin took a pass from Smirnov and slotted it past Matt Jurusik to make it a 4-0 game. The floodgates opened, the joy that came with it in inside the building was palpable.

"I think it's an honor to play in these games," Guy Gadowsky said following the game. "To play in really meaningful games in March is a wonderful thing. It's stressful and it's fun. The mood right now, I think they're very proud of themselves to have a performance at a really crucial time and on a really emotional night."

Two minutes later it was Alec Marsh putting his name on the scoresheet, a slick pass from Chase Berger that was tapped home, seemingly putting a bow on the most important night of the season.

In the game's dying minutes Wisconsin took two penalties and facing a 5-on-3 advantage Penn State rolled out all five seniors on the power play, and with nine seconds to go in regulation Zach Saar, often scratched, often finding the penalty box, found the back of the net.

With at least three games remaining in the Nittany Lions' season an NCAA Tournament bid isn't unequivocally locked up, there is work left to be done.

But on Saturday night there was a sense of history as the Nittany Lions left the ice following win No. 21 of the year.

And if nothing else, a sense that Goodwin won't have to keep that tweet around for much longer.

Up next, Michigan.

"They're playing great hockey and I can promise you that playing at Yost it doesn't matter how Michigan is playing it's a tough place to play," Goodwin said. "So we know going into this week it's going to be business as usual and we're going to be prepared to play two really." tough games."

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