Gostisbehere shines as Union sweeps Penn State; PSU opens up Big Ten play this weekend in Madison

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Photo by Craig Houtz

Daniel Ciampini’s goal with three seconds remaining in last Sunday’s contest proved to be the difference as No.11 Union College defeated Penn State, 5-4, to complete the weekend sweep.

For Penn State, their loss on Sunday was their toughest one to date because the Nittany Lions held a 4-1 lead at one point in the game. Guy Gadowsky’s squad had their best opening period of the season as freshmen Zach Saar netted his first goal of his collegiate career only 3:58 into the game. Luke Juha extended Penn State’s lead to 2-0 just over five minutes later.

In the second stanza, the Dutchmen outscored the Nittany Lions by a 3-2 margin to make it a 4-3 game.  At 6:06 of the period, Mike Vecchione scored the first of three Union power-play goals to cut the Nittany Lion lead in half when he deposited Jeff Taylor’s pass behind goalie Eamon McAdam.

Not being phased by the Union goal, Penn State would respond with two goals of their own to take a 4-1 lead. The first came off a David Goodwin faceoff win where Eric Scheid sent a wrist shot from the slot that got by Union starting goalie Colin Stevens. The second came off a strange bounce that found it’s way behind Stevens. David Glen and a Union defender both hit the puck at the same time and it caromed of another Union defender into the net. Glen was credited with the goal.

Colin Stevens was pulled from the net after the wacky goal and that seemed to light a fire under the Union players, especially Flyers draft pick Shayne Gostisbehere.

Gostisbehere scored two power-play goals to bring Union within one goal heading into the third period. His first tally came after a five-on-three advantage expired at 12:48 of the second period where he fired a missile past McAdam. His second came at 15:54 of the second frame. Penn State took two costly penalties during that span, which allowed Gostisbehere to utilize his powerful shot. Gostisbehere registered 12 shots on net Sunday.

McAdam played strong as he stopped 38 shots and made several key saves early in third that kept Penn State in the game. Union’s Matt Hatch would tie the game midway through the third period. With less than 10 seconds remaining in the game,  Ciampini skated past two Penn State defenders and deked out McAdam. He eluded McAdam’s poke checked, stayed with the puck, and tapped it into the open net.

Union improved to 8-3-2 and Penn State fell to 3-7-1. The Lions finished 2-for-3 with the man advantage and Union went 3-for-5 on the power play and out shot Penn State by a 43-23 margin. Eric Scheid did registered five points (2 goals, 3 assists) this past weekend and extended his point streak to three games Sunday with a goal and two assists.

The Nittany Lions need to play a full 60 minutes of hockey. They failed to do that in Game 1 last Saturday versus Union (Trailed 3-0 and rallied to tie the game at 3-3, before succumbing another late third period goal) and they failed to protect the lead Sunday. This team needs to wake up and realize they’re not playing club ACHA teams anymore. They should have swept Union, instead of being swept themselves.

It only get harder from here on out as PSU open up Big Ten play this weekend at No.17 Wisconsin and then travel to Pittsburgh for the Three Rivers Classic at Consol Energy Center. They face Robert Morris on Friday Dec. 27th and either Boston College or Bowling Green the next day.

Speaking of Wisconsin, the Badgers are coming off of a weekend sweep at the hands of No. 1 Minnesota. Wisconsin has lost three out of their last four games and return home to the Kohl Center for the first time in 33 days.

Anchoring Wisconsin’s blue line this season is junior assistant captain Jake McCabe (BUF, 44th overall, ’12). He led all Badgers defensemen last season with 21 points (three goals, 18 assists) in 38 games and 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 10 games this season. McCabe was also Team USA’s captain  the World Junior Championships last winter. In goal, head coach Mike Eaves is  platooning juniors Joel Rumpel and Landon Peterson with Peterson taking the majority of the starts thus far.

Offensively, Wisconsin is led by senior Michael Mersch (LAK, 110th overall, ’11) and sophomore Nic Kerdiles (ANA, 36th overall, ’12). Both players finished first and second respectively in scoring last season and that’s where they currently are now. Kerdiles, an  Irvine, CA native,  racked up 33 points (11 goals, 22 assists) in 32 games last season, despite missing 10 games. Wisconsin went 21-6-5 with Kerdiles in the lineup last season. Currently, he has five goals and five assists for 10 points in 10 games played.

Mersch led Wisconsin in both points (36) and goals (23) in 42 games last season. He currently leads the team in both points (11) and goals (6) in 10 games played.

Penn State did take one game from Wisconsin last season, but I don’t see that happening again. This is a young, inexperienced, and sometimes dumb Nittany Lion team that Wisconsin will take advantage of. I want to pick Penn State to at least take one game, but from what I’ve seen this season I don’t see it happening. I think Penn State will play better and be competitive, however, the experience of Badgers will prevail in the end.