Tommy Olczyk's third period goal helped Penn State stave off elimination (Photo: Thank You Terry)
The No. 1 Penn State Icers overcame a 3-1 deficit on Sunday evening to knock off No. 9 Oklahoma 6-3 and advance to the semifinals of the ACHA National Tournament in Strongsville, Ohio. Penn State improves to 29-3-1 on the season.
Uncharacteristically, Penn State went into the first intermission down 2-0. Bryce Johnson would score almost five minutes into the second to cut the Sooner lead to 2-1, but Oklahoma would stretch their lead back to two goals halfway through the period on the power play, making it 3-1. The Icers continued to look out of sync, a day after heading into the third period tied at 1-1 with a West Virginia team they outscored 14-1 in two games this season.
This was the fourth time these two teams played each other this season, with the Icers winning the previous three. In their last meeting on February 4 in State College, Oklahoma held a 3-0 advantage with five minutes remaining only to see Penn State storm back and eventually win 4-3 in overtime. Halfway through the second period on Sunday night, it looked as though the Sooners would finally grab a victory from the Icers.
But just like many times this year, their talent level proved to be too much. Michael Longo would score on a wrister late in the second to make it 3-2, and Johnson would add his second of the game with 38 seconds left in the period to tie it.
At the end of the second, Justin Kirchhevel and Oklahoma goalie Nick Holmes got into a scuffle that resulted in multiple penalties. While Kirchhevel was assessed a double minor, Holmes was given 15 penalty minutes, 5 for head butting and a 10-minute misconduct. This forced a cold Colin Fernandes into the game for the Sooners to begin the third, and the Icers took full advantage of the opportunity. Tommy Olczyk put Penn State up for good just 49 seconds into the final frame and assisted on Dominic Morrone's tally twelve seconds later, quickly putting the Icers up 5-3. Longo would join Johnson as the other two-goal scorer on the night, adding an empty netter at the end of the third to make it 6-3.
Icers goalie P.J. Musico, seeing his first action of the tournament, stopped 20 of the 23 shots he faced. The Icers were 0-2 on the power play while Oklahoma was 1-2.
The Icers now advance to the semifinals of the tournament, where they will clash against No. 13 Oakland on Tuesday. The time of the game has yet to be announced, but it will either be a 5 p.m. or 8 p.m. start. The other semifinal will feature No. 3 Delaware pitted against the winner of No. 2 Lindenwood vs. No. 7 Minot State. The Blue Hens defeated No. 6 Ohio 5-4 in a thrilling double overtime game earlier on Sunday.
The full press release from the game can be found here.