In Game Blog: Men's Hockey hosts US National U18 Team

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Welcome back to in-game coverage of 2012-13 Nittany Lions women's hockey season.  Insight and reaction will be provided by GoPSUsports.com throughout the game, so check back often as the action unfolds.

Take a look back at Penn State's 5-2 victory over the US National U18 Team in their first of a two game exhibition series. The Nittany Lions fell behind, 2-0, before raddling off the final five games of the game - including an empty netter - behind an amazing effort in net by freshman goalie Matt Skoff. All four lines scored for the Nittany Lions and 10 players recorded points for the Blue and White.

Today's Game in 140 Characters: Can't cheer against either team...#PennState needs to establish offensive zone...back check will be key...loads of talent upfront for USNT

Leading Lines (Starting lineups)
Nittany Lions -
LW- Bailey, C- Holstrom, RW- Gardiner, D- Lordo, D- Varley, GK- Skoff
USNT - LW- Motte, C- Compher, RW- Labanc, D- Savage, D- Clifton, GK- Demko

1st Period: 14:35 - Penn State 0, US National U18 Team 0
The student section saved the pregame festivities with a great rendition of the National Anthem after a microphone malfunction hampered the anthem singer. She came through with a great performance, as well, but the students surely stole the show. Penn State has had a couple of nice passes through the USNT zone, but has no shots to show for it and the backcheck has been good. Every time I see these USA hockey sweaters two things come to mind; Mighty Ducks 2 and the Miracle on Ice. Both teams have connected on some nice passes with just a few stoppages.

1st Period: 11:13- Penn State 0, US National U18 Team 1
Skoff has stood tall for most the first nine minutes, but a rebound off of the initial save gave Team USA the early advantage. The Nittany Lions are playing with the same intensity we saw against Robert Morris in a tough loss in late December. Tyler Motte was credited with the early marker with an assist from Hudson Fasching. PSU is right back on the attack, but still trail 10-2 in the shot department.

1st Period: 6:39- Penn State 0, US National U18 Team 1
I knew, just from watching warm-ups, that Thatcher Demko, the Team USA goalie, was going to be tough to score on and Bailey - who was teammates with Demko last season with the Omaha Lancers of the USHL. Bailey had a breakaway opportunity and was looking to even the tally at one goal apiece, but Demko got a pad on the shot and turned away his former ice mate. The Nittany Lions also had a good look from the wing, but Bailey missed wide with his attempt.

1st Period: 3:09- Penn State 0, US National U18 Team 1
Penn State got the first opportunity on the power play, but the USNT unit ...The best chance of the advantage came early on when Mark Yanis  - who missed a handful of games due to injury - took a shot from the point that was deflected by David Glen. The deflection went over the left shoulder of Demko, but ricocheted off the post and bounced harmlessly away. This game has featured the most flow of any I have seen so far this season and has been a real treat for the fans. The Blue and White have had more pressure over the last six minutes, with two of the last three faceoffs taking place in the USA zone.

End of 1st Period- Penn State 0, US National U18 Team 1
A pair of late penalties led to a four-on-four for most of the final two minutes and the open ice led to some fast-pace hockey. Penn State had the final 20 seconds of the half on the man advantage, but was unable to do much with the extra skater. The US National Team holds an 18-5 edge in the shots department, but Skoff has turned away 17 of those shots and the Nittany Lions have won 11 of the 18 faceoffs in the contest. As the horn sounded a scrum behind the Team USA net led to the second PSU penalty of the first half, as Bailey will start the second period in the penalty box.

2nd Period: 19:23 - Penn State 0, US National U18 Team 2
The Nittany Lions will have to dig out of a two-goal hole now, after Team USA collected a shorthanded goal just 16-seconds into the man advantage from the period-ending penalty on Bailey. J.T. Compher took a pass from Keaton Thompson from across the crease and beat Skoff to his glove side. Will Butcher led the paly into the offensive zone, finding Thompson who connected with the wide open Compher. Gardiner had the first opportunity of the period, but Demko made his seventh save to keep PSU off the board.

2nd Period: 17:31 - Penn State 1, US National U18 Team 2
One way to dig out of a two goal hole; score one yourself. The Nittany Lions got on the board just two minutes after Team USA took their two goal lead on a tally from George Saad. The assistant captain collected a rebound off of a Rich O'Brien shot and stuffed it past Demko. Saad, who has not points during the NCAA schedule, also had an assist vs. Arizona State in the series opening win.

2nd Period: 11:17 - Penn State 1, US National U18 Team 2
The second period has started out with a lot of intensity, just as the first half ended with it, and Penn State has had some great chances on net. The US goalie, Demko, has shown why he is the choice in net for this team, making some outstanding plays under duress. Penn State has launched five shots in the early going on this period, two coming from Bailey. After the US team had a shot bounce off the post, Bailey skated through the US defense and into the crease, but Demko turned the shot away. Just a few seconds later, Michael McDonagh sent a pass across the crease, but Bailey whiffed on the chance to score the equalizer.

2nd Period: 9:25 - Penn State 2, US National U18 Team 2
The Nittany Lions netted the equalizer thanks to a pair of concurrent penalties on Team USA, but the Blue and White played 90 percent of the power play 100 percent wrong. Poor passing and the inability to control the puck ran the advantage down to just eight seconds before they took their first shot, but the one shot they took was a good one. Kenny Brooks gathered the loose puck in front of the net and was able to find the back of it to pull even at two goals apiece. The assists came from Glen and Curtis Loik, who each had touches on the puck before Brooks lit the lamp.

2nd Period: 4:44 - Penn State 2, US National U18 Team 2
After allowing the second goal to Team USA, Skoff has been solid in net for the Nittany Lions over the last 12 minutes. Penn State has had a few scoring opportunities since tying the game, but they have been nothing more than chances. Those opportunities have been created by crisper passing, something that lacked for most of the first eight minutes for PSU and if you live in State College, those noises you hear are the boards shaking inside Greenberg; there has been some major hitting going on tonight.

End of 2nd Period - Penn State 2, US National U18 Team 2
The last four-plus minutes of the second period featured some chippy play at both ends and a handful of solid stops by Skoff in net for PSU. The rookie netminder made three saves on a Team USA power play and another one on a breakaway late in the clock. The two teams skated four-on-four for one minutes and Loik nearly netted a goal to go along with his earlier assist when he drove down the boards on the right flank and sent a shot towards Demko, who literally sat on the puck to get the whistle and stop ply. A late Penn State penalty will allow the USNT to skate with the man advantage for the first1:30 of the third period.

3rd Period: 13:48 - Penn State 2, US National U18 Team 2
The first six minutes of the third period have flown by, but not without its fair share of hard checks and solid passing from both squads. Penn State and Team USA have each had their opportunities around the net, but neither has been able to get good tape on them. Penn State has the first power play opportunity of the third period after the third slashing penalty on the Red, White and Blue.

3rd Period: 13:01 - Penn State 3, US National U18 Team 2
Cue the ZOMBIE NATION!! Joseph Lordo unloads from the blue line and Gardiner provides the screen in front of Demko to give the Nittany Lions their first lead of the game. The assists came from Bailey and Holstrom, on a nice combo passing effort , marking the second power play goal of the game for PSU. Skoff continues to be focused in the other net and has turned away a couple of nice scoring opportunities for Team USA.

3rd Period: 6:10 - Penn State 4, US National U18 Team 2
A scramble at the boards was dug out by McDonagh and he connected with the captain, Tommy Olczyk, who buried the backhand past the outstretched glove of Demko. The Nittany Lions have been the more physical team over the last seven minutes and their chances have been much more plentiful. Team USA has had their chances, too, but Skoff and a solid backline for the blue and white are really cleaning up and limiting the second chances. Press row just commented that three goals might not be enough for PSU and another strike was needed. Thanks for obliging, Tommy.

3rd Period: 3:08 - Penn State 4, US National U18 Team 2
The Penn State student section has been rocking tonight. From singing the National Anthem to heckling Team USA goalie Thatcher Demko, they have been in the game all night. One thing is for certain, when Pegula Ice Arena opens in Fall 2013 that is going to be the best student section in the NCAA. On the ice, Penn State has dominated the third period offensively. PSU holds an 11-8 shot advantage in the third period...wait that advantage is now 11-9 after Skoff saved that one.

FINAL - Penn State 5, US National U18 Team 2
After falling behind, 2-0, the Nittany Lions responded with five unanswered goals, in large part to the play of goalie Matt Skoff, and claimed a 4-2 victory over the US National U18 Team on Friday night. It was a combined effort with Skoff leading the charge and all four lines produced scores for Penn State, who added a late empty netter to account for the final margin, 5-2.

It was the most complete game that the Nittany Lions have played all season and Penn State imposed its size late in the contest against the U18 squad. The passing was much more in sync, the shots came from spots on the ice that gave the team better chances to score and they played tough shorthanded and on the power play.

After Team USA scored their second goal on its 20th shot of the contest, Skoff went on to save the final 29 attempts that came his way.  Skoff made some easy saves, but added some serious highlight reel saves to hold the opposition off the board for the final 39 minutes.

Goals came from all four lines, one from a defenseman, and assists came from all over the board for the Blue and White. Brooks was the top star of the game with two goals - on just two shots - and George Saad, Joseph Lordo and Tommy Olczyk

In the under the radar stat department, David Glen won 18-22 faceoffs and Holstrom won nine faceoffs

for Penn State, who won 49 of 72 bouts in the circle.

Quick Change Press Conference Quotes

"I think this was a very good hockey game. It was up and down and we really played well in the second period. I am very happy with the way we played the final two periods and I was confident from the beginning after listening to the student section sing the National Anthem. How cool was that, really cool. How cool is (Penn State), very cool. "
- Head coach Guy Gadowsky

"When George (Saad) scored that really lifted the team. It was because it was George, he is a grinder every day in practice and on game day and he did it by taking the puck to the net. We needed someone to take the puck to the net and he was the guy to do that."
- Head coach Guy Gadowsky

"They have a number of good players...we didn't, we couldn't focus on just one person. I think it means a lot to us to be able to say we came back against a good team. We are not judging our season by wins and losses, but we really came to play in the second and third period. I am happy with the win and happy that we were able to play well in the second and third period."
- Head coach Guy Gadowsky

"Skoff was fantastic. There were a couple of saves he made  that were dynamite and he made all the save he should have and some that were pretty tough, too. We are not winning that game without Matt Skoff. It shows that a good goaltender can really help a team."
- Head coach Guy Gadowsky

 


What To Look For:

- Penn State will play three straight games at home, starting with tonight's games against the US National U18 Team. The Blue and White own a 3-4 overall record at home this season with wins over Buffalo State, Air Force and Arizona State. The USNT owns a 3-4-4 record vs. NCAA Division I programs in 2012-13, defeating Alabama-Huntsville, Merrimack and Michigan.

- The games vs. the USNT will be the third and fourth exhibition contests that PSU has played this season. The Nittany Lions claimed an 8-3 victory and dropped a 3-1 contest to Arizona State, a  member of the American Club Hockey Association, to end November and begin December. PSU will play four more ACAH members near the conclusion of the 2013 slate, hosting Ohio (Feb. 1-2) and Oklahoma (Feb. 15-16).

- Casey Bailey, Max Gardiner and Taylor Holstrom joined together as linemates at Fredonia State on Dec. 11 and since then have been one of the most productive lines for head coach Guy Gadowsky. Each players is riding a three-game point-scoring streak, with Bailey posting six points (3 G, 3 A), Gardiner accounting for five points (0 G, 5 A) and Holstrom adding four points (3 G, 1 A).


- The Nittany Lions have produced 134 points so far in 2012-13 and 83 of those have been delivered by the freshman class. The rookies have 35 of the team's 51 goals and 48 of their 83 assists. The top two scorers on the PSU squad, Casey Bailey and David Glen, are both rookies. Bailey and Glen are each tied atop the team goal and point charts with nine and 17, respectively, and each have produced eight assists, ranking in a tie for second on the squad.

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