Union-Penn State postgame report (Saturday edition) (with 3 videos)
Union’s 2-0 win over Penn State on Saturday won’t go down as one of the more aesthetically pleasing games.
Dutchmen coach Rick Bennett wasn’t smiling from ear to ear about the win. Far from it.
He was unhappy with the Dutchmen’s lack of intensity. It could have been a combination of getting their playing legs back after two weeks off for final exams for the first trimester, and the fact that they were facing an opponent they had never played before. Penn State is NCAA hockey’s newest Division I program, and is playing as an independent this season before joining the new Big Ten hockey conference next season.
“As a coaching staff, and myself, we could have gotten that across a lot better,” said Bennett, whose Dutchmen face the Nittany Lions again today at 4 p.m. “I think our guys know it. They know it now. Sometimes, it’s a little too, too late. That was almost the case tonight.”
Asked if he felt fortunate to win, Bennett said, “Yes, yes we do.”
Bennett explained further.
“Coming off our breaks, it just seems like we’ve been a bit flat,” he said. “But in the same token, when you play a good team like that, they can make you look bad. I thought tonight, they deserved a better fate.”
The “they” Bennett is talking about is Penn State. The Nittany Lions have nothing to be ashamed of. Except for the first five minutes of the game, the Nittany Lions didn’t seem intimidated by the Dutchmen. They got great goaltending from Matthew Skoff, who made 40 saves.
“I thought the way Matt was playing, we were going to have chances,” Penn State Guy Gadowsky said.
His best save came with about nine minutes left in the second period and shortly after Wayne Simpson had given Union a 1-0 lead.
“Actually, the guy came around the net, and I thought he was going to stuff it,” Skoff said. “And then he threw it out in front, and I awkwardly got out there. I saw it was going high glove, so I just threw it up. It was kind of a lucky save.”
Skoff’s play certainly gave his teammates a spark.
“That’s my job, to give my team as many breaks as they need,” Skoff said. “Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case tonight.”
It will be interesting to see how Sunday’s rematch turns out. Game time is 4 p.m.
Meanwhile, Dutchmen goalie and Niskayuna native Colin Stevens earned his second shutout of the season with a 22-save effort.
While he didn’t face the same volume of shots, Stevens had to be sharp. He was just that late in the second period.
He had a couple dangerous ones on the same play. Stevens got turned around after stopping a Michael McDonagh shot. Nate Jensen got the rebound, and the puck was sliding toward the goal line.
Stevens quickly got his glove on it and swept it away. A video review confirmed that the puck never crossed the goal line.
“I think I went down a little too early,” Stevens said. “A guy sent a pass across the top of the crease. I reached back, and got a little lucky.”
Simpson is closing in on 100 career points. His goal gives him 91 points for his career.
I have three postgame videos.
To see Bennett's press conference, click here.
To view interviews with Simpson and Stevens, click here.
To watch Penn State’s press conference, click here.
My three stars of the game:
1) Matthew Skoff, Penn State goalie — Made 40 saves and kept the Nittany Lions in contention.
2) Colin Stevens, Union goalie — Made 22 saves for his second shutout of the season.
3) Wayne Simpson, Union right winger — Scored game-winning goal.
That’s all from Messa Rink. I’ll be back with you late Sunday afternoon for Game 2 of the Penn State-Union series.
Good Night! Good Hockey!