Nittany Lions overcome 2-0 deficit vs. Team USA

Story posted January 12, 2013 in Sports, CommRadio by Tom Zulewski

Playing a team with such prestige as the U.S. Under-18 team, a team that includes three players ranked in the top 30 by ISS for the upcoming 2013 NHL draft, it could be easy to fall in awe of the opposing talent laden roster. Boston College commit Steve Santini is ranked 14th overall, Michigan commit J.T. Compher is 19th overall, Minnesota commit Hudson Fasching is 25th overall.   

However, the Nittany Lions were not intimidated as they defeated Team USA 5-2 Friday night at Greenberg Ice Pavilion after erasing an early 2-0 deficit by scoring five unanswered goals.    

Tyler Motte got Team USA on the board first putting home a rebound after Hudson Fasching’s shot was initially stopped by Matthew Skoff. For Motte, that was his 13th goal of the season. Motte is committed to play at the University of Michigan next year.

A little over one minute after the Motte goal Penn State had a chance to tie the game but Casey Bailey was stopped on a breakaway by Team USA goaltender and Boston College commit Thatcher Demko. Demko and Bailey were teammates last year for the Omaha Lancers of the USHL.

Penn State head coach Guy Gadowsky was not pleased with his team’s effort in the first period.

“I don’t think we came out very well in the first,” Gadowsky said. “We were standing around watching a little bit. I think everybody was interested to see supposedly the best of their age group in the nation.”

The U.S. National Under -18 Team is a part of the USA Hockey’s National Team Development program based in Ann Arbor, Mich. The program was started in 1996 by USA Hockey as a way to identify elite talent throughout the country.  They play a 50 game schedule that includes competition from NCAA Division I and III conferences and teams from the USHL.

Notable alumni of the program include Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane, Toronto Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk and Anaheim Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler.

37 seconds into the second period J.T. Compher buried a wrist shot blocker side on Matthew Skoff giving Team USA a 2-0 lead. Compher was arguably the best player on the ice tonight.   He will most likely here is name called in the first round of the upcoming NHL draft.

Not to be outdone a little over two minutes after the Compher goal George Saad made it 2-1 after a mad scramble in front putting home a rebound behind Thatcher Demko.

The return of Mark Yanis to the lineup was crucial for the Nittany Lions tonight especially since Penn State was down two defensemen in Nate Jensen and Luke Juha. Yanis missed two months with a broken leg.

Coach Gadowsky was thrilled with effort from Yanis tonight.

“I was extremely impressed with his game tonight coming off such a long layover,” he said. “We tried to get him to practice really hard yesterday and he did.”

“This past week I skated really hard to get in shape for this weekend,” Yanis said. “The whole defense corps played well and I give credit to Matt [Skoff] and the backend.”

At the 11:17 mark of the second period Penn State received a golden opportunity to even the game. A rare 5-3 power play for two minutes interrupted after Team USA took two penalties.

After failing to register a shot for the first 1:44 of the power play, Penn State finally put one behind Thatcher Demko. Curtis Loik’s initial shot was stopped by Demko, but Kenny Brooks was on the doorstep for the easy tap in goal. For Brooks, that was his second goal of the season.

The Nittany Lions would take the 3-2 lead on a Joe Lordo power play goal from the point. Thatcher Demko had no chance on the goal as Max Gardiner was screening him in front. For Lordo, that was his first goal of the season and Penn State’s second power play goal of the game.

Penn State would add an insurance goal as the captain, Tommy Olczyk, scored to make it 4-2. Mike McDonagh chased the puck into corner, won the battle and slid it in front to Olczyk who shot it pass Demko glove side.  

With seven seconds left in the game Kenny Brooks would seal it with an empty net goal.

Matt Skoff was phenomenal in net making 47 saves on 49 shots.

Penn State returns to action tomorrow night against the U.S. Under-18 team.

Tom Zulewski is senior majoring in journalism. To contact him, e-mail trz5013@psu.edu.