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By Tom Shively, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa - The beauty of sports lies in the unpredictability. That is to say, the game is not decided until the final whistle blows. This was the case Sunday for the Nittany Lions, who scored four goals in the third period to force a 4-4 tie against RIT after a 3-0 victory on Saturday.
"To make a comeback and play as hard as we did from a four-goal deficit, to squeeze out a tie is something very exciting and something the team can be proud of," interim head coach Dean Jackson said. "You're down 4-0 with 20 minutes remaining, it just showed what kind of characters we have in that locker room."
After three RIT goals in the first period, Jackson made a change in net for the Nittany Lions. After pitching a shutout on Saturday, Hannah Ehresmann relieved Daniela Paniccia and made 21 saves on 22 shots.
"It's definitely hard to stay focused since you're not really into the game at first," Ehresmann said. "But in between periods, I was able to work on concentrating and getting loose again."
Victoria Samuelsson scored the first goal of the third period for the Nittany Lions, flicking in a shot that deflected off a stick and into the net. The goal came on the power play, one of two Penn State goals on the man advantage.
"I think the moment we scored that first goal, we knew they were all going to start falling," Laura Bowman said.
And they certainly did start to fall later in the third period as Kate Rydland was able to slice through the defense and put one in the back of the net just after the halfway mark of the third period.
"It's so cliché, but 0-0 mentality," Jackson said. "We hit that first one, you never know. We got that second one and we knew we were in great shape. You can just see it in their eyes and the momentum they were picking up from shift to shift and the pressure we were putting on RIT."
Freshman Brooke Madsen made it a one-goal game with under four minutes remaining on a shot from a tough angle that found its way between the pipes.
A charging penalty on Tori Haywood with 2:04 remaining set up Bowman's game-tying goal. Bowman was able to sneak the puck past goaltender Terra Lantaigne with less than one minute to play in regulation, thus forcing an overtime period.
"We kept with the game plan, our coaches were really supportive," Bowman said. "They said 'hey, they're going to start falling', and they started falling in the third. Four fell thankfully. I think I hit [the fourth goal] and it went under her arm, but I'm just glad. It was a team effort, everyone was buzzing and getting the puck. Right before we went out, Coach Jackson said we will not lose one battle and I don't think we lost a battle the entire time we were out there."
Jackson decided to take further advantage of the late power play by pulling Ehresmann in favor of an extra forward and a two-man advantage, something that was indicative of the toughness and aggression of Penn State throughout the entire third period.
"The power play has been very strong for us," Jackson said. "It kept us in games and won us some games. We've had success and we are a threat five-on-four. Having that extra attacker, two minutes left, trying to tie it; had to do it. The message was that we were not going to lose a one-on-one battle or a loose puck battle. There was no reason."
Bowman's late goal on Sunday gave her 97 points for her Penn State career, now only three away from the century mark.
Three points (now a total of 12 in conference play) kept the Nittany Lions in third place in the CHA, currently trailing only Robert Morris and Syracuse in the standings with just about a month remaining in the regular season.
The Nittany Lions host Mercyhurst at home next weekend before a week off.