PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Freshman forward Casey Bailey (Anchorage, Alaska) registered a career-high four points (2g, 2a) to lead the Penn State men’s hockey team to a 5-4 victory against Ohio State in the consolation game of the Three Rivers Classic at CONSOL Energy Center Saturday (Dec. 29) night. Penn State improved to 8-9-0 in its first matchup against a Big Ten team, while Ohio State fell to 7-8-5 in the teams’ first-ever meeting.
Penn State is back in action this weekend with a two-game series against Connecticut Jan. 4-5. Opening faceoff for both games in Storrs, Conn., is set at 7:05 p.m.
The Nittany Lions notched five tallies against an Ohio State defense that entered the game ranked sixth in the country in goals allowed per game (1.89). The Buckeyes allowed five goals for the first time since a 6-2 season-opening loss to Minnesota Duluth Oct. 12.
Four different Nittany Lions, including Bailey, recorded multi-point games. Sophomore forward Max Gardiner (Deephaven, Minn.) matched a career high with three assists, while junior forward Taylor Holstrom (Yorba Linda, Calif.), who scored twice for the first time this season, equaled his career best with a pair of goals. Freshman defenseman Luke Juha (Mississauga, Ont.) recorded his first multi-point game with two assists.
Ohio State outshot the Nittany Lions by a 40-37 margin and went 0-for-2 on the power play. The Nittany Lions finished 1-for-2 with the man advantage. Freshman goaltender Matthew Skoff (McKees Rocks, Pa.) turned aside 36 shots, while Ohio State netminder Collin Olson made 32 saves. Ryan Dzingel registered a hat trick for the Buckeyes, while Alex Szczechura added a third-period goal.
Ohio State’s Dzingel skated the Buckeyes to a 1-0 lead 3:56 into the game, but the Nittany Lions closed the period on a 3-0 run. With 12:15 left in the frame, Penn State capitalized on an Ohio State turnover to even the game. Gardiner intercepted a clearing attempt at the blue line and fed the puck to Loik in the slot, where he sent a backhanded shot through Olson’s five-hole.
Holstrom gave the Nittany Lions their first lead with 3:20 left in the period. The Yorba Linda, Calif., native forced a turnover behind the Ohio State cage to Bailey, who circled to the front of the net before ripping a shot. The rebound came free to Holstrom, who fired it past Olson.
While on a 5-on-3 advantage, the Nittany Lions extended their lead to 3-1 with 1:17 left in the stanza. Juha sent the puck to Gardiner at the half-wall, where he quickly fed Bailey in the slot. The Anchorage, Alaska, native settled the puck before sending it to the back of the net.
Ohio State closed the gap to 3-2 less than three minutes into the second period. Dzingel collected the puck on the half-wall and skated around the top of the left circle before scoring from the slot at 2:39.
Bailey regained the Nittany Lions’ two-goal lead with nine seconds left in the frame. From below the goal line, Gardiner sent a diagonal pass to Juha, whose shot from the left point was redirected by Bailey in the slot.
Just 21 seconds into the third and 30 seconds after Bailey’s goal, Holstrom added his second of the game. From the blue line, freshman defenseman Connor Varley (Lansdale, Pa.) sent the puck toward the net that Bailey tipped back to Holstrom. The junior made no mistake as he fired the puck to the back of the net.
Dzingel made it a 5-3 game with 12:11 left in regulation. After receiving a pass, the forward stickhandled around Skoff before slipping the puck past the goal line.
With Olson pulled in favor of an extra attacker, Szczechura tallied for the Buckeyes with 2:28 remaining off an assist from Matt Johnson. Ohio State played with six skaters for the remainder of the contest but the Nittany Lions would not be denied the victory.