Guy Gadowsky was all smiles Friday evening, even though his Penn State team dropped a 3-2 overtime thriller to American International at Greenberg Ice Pavilion. He had every reason to be happy.
His Nittany Lion squad controlled play, recording 63 shots while enjoying a 54 percent winning rate in the face-off dot.
While the loss was difficult, the performance was admirable for a program making its Division I debut.
AIU's Jon Puskar tipped in a blast from the point from defenseman Jake Williams that found netting behind Nittany Lions' goaltender Matthew Skoff right shoulder, giving the Yellow Jackets the OT win.
You learn something after every game, and we haven't seen a lot of our players compete at this level, Gadowsky said. But you see things from new players that we are going to have to address. For us to generate 60 shots on net right now, that's something I learned from our team -- that we have that ability. That's great to know.
Junior Taylor Holmstrom gave Penn State hope in a quickly evaporating third period, as he took a pass on the tape from defenseman Mark Yanis, toe-dragged around a Yellow Jackets' defenseman and smoked a wrist shot past goaltender Ben Meisner to tie the game at 2-2 with four minutes to play.
It was probably the luckiest goal I've ever scored, Hostrom said. I don't really remember all of what happened. But I got a great pass and just tried to get it off quick, and it went in.
Casey Bailey scored the first goal of Penn State's Division I life in the second period, when the Lions were trailing 1-0.
After a power play that carried 10 seconds into the second period resulted in nothing for PSU, it continued to force the issue offensively. With a top pairing of Nate Jensen and Joseph Lordo playing aggressively from the top of the neutral zone, it eventually materialized into a goal. Lordo crashed hard on a Jensen shot from the point, and his wrist shot caromed off Meisner's pads and onto the waiting stick of Bailey, who finished it with a strong blast to tie the score at 1-1.
Bailey was less concerned with scoring the first Division I goal in PSU history than keeping the game close.
It felt great to get the first goal and tie the game up, he said. It was a great feeling.
The teams will square off again Saturday night at the Mogehan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Berre, Pa., and for the Nittany Lions, they hope to carry-over the momentum built from a tenacious effort Friday night.
I think they understand we want guys that are hungry to build this foundation and understand the importance of that, so in one sense, you have to have a lot of pride in that first game together, Gadowsky said. I'm very proud of the crowd and atmosphere, and on offense we generated lot, so we have a lot of optimism to the future.