Penn State Hockey: Nittany Lions Split Series, Beat Air Force 5-1
Penn State took the ice Saturday night looking to avenge a 5-1 loss the night before and close out the two-game series against Air Force with a victory. The Nittany Lions were able to do that, beating Air Force, 5-1
A fast-paced first period saw Air Force dominate the shot count, 11-5 during the back-and-forth action.
Casey Bailey broke the scoreless tie 15:29 into the period, taking the pass from Max Gardiner and shooting it through the legs of Air Force goalie Jason Torf to give Penn State a 1-0 lead.
The hard-hitting action continued in the second period and Penn State extended its lead 6:39 in to the period following a Luke Juha shot from the point through traffic. The Nittany Lions outshot Air Force, 13-11 in the second frame and killed three separate penalties.
"We were great on the penalty kill," Penn State coach Guy Gadowsky said. "Our greatest penalty killer was our goalie, and I thought he played great. I thought our defense played well tonight, I think they really responded from last night."
Down two goals in the third period, Air Force brought the intensity early, scoring with 17:19 left in the game after Casey Kleisinger sent a spinning shot past Penn State goalie Matthew Skoff.
As the physical play intensified, David Glen gave the Nittany Lions a two-goal cushion, redirecting a shot from the point to give Penn State a 3-1 lead with 9:22 remaining.
"You can play tough and dirty in front of the net and I thought they were great tonight," Gadowsky said.
With Air Force’s goalie pulled, Michael McDonagh put any wild comeback dreams to rest, depositing the puck in the back of the empty net to give Penn State a 4-1 lead with just under three minutes to go. Connor Varley added another empty net goal with just seconds remaining.
Penn State improves to 6-3-0 on the year and will have a week off before preparing to face 2011 Frozen Four participant Union in a two-game series in Schenectady, N.Y. Nittany Lion goaltender Matthew Skoff saved 31 shots in the effort and earned his second win in as many starts.
"I'm excited right now," Gadowsky said. "Air Force is a great program and we played right up there with them."