Monday, February 29, 2016

On Saturday night, the Nittany Lions, would face off against a very talented CCAC team in the CHE Open Division semi-finals. The two teams would take very different paths to the showdown. After securing the best record in the league, the Lions would receive a first round bye and number one seed throughout the playoffs. The Huskies would get there, by a hard earned victory against CAL II Vulcans 3-2. PSU (18-4-1) had set several goals throughout the season, and one of those would be to win a conference championship, standing in the way was CCAC (9-6-1). CCAC would strike first blood four minutes into the game as the Lions were scrambling all over the ice. It wouldn't be until 1:15 remaining in the first, that freshman Mitch Rupprecht (Gricco and Tamburi) would tie the score at 1-1. PSU would out shoot the Huskies 13-9. Six minutes into the second period, freshman Mike Lassik would give the Lions a 2-1 lead assisted by Mike Pilla and Mike Ludwig. Forty seconds later, Pilla would tally for PSU from Lassik and Hagan. However, within eleven seconds, the Huskies had tied the game 3-3. A true measure of any champion, is how they respond to adversity. And the Lions would respond. Over the next eight minutes, PSU would score five unanswered goals, three of them shorthanded. With his "PAP" in the stands wearing his PSU Altoona Hockey hat, sophomore Nick Tamburi (Pilla / Gricco) would give the Lions a 4-3 lead on the power play. At 6:42, Mike Pilla (Hagan / Lassik) would tally giving the Lions a 5-3 lead. Following his goal, Pilla would receive an unsportmanslike penalty for inadvertently celebrating with the wrong team. During the penalty kill, Rupprecht (Gricco / Wilson) would score shorthanded. Then with "Pills" back in the box for high sticking, PSU would strike twice, down a man. Tamburi would score his second of the game from Mike Lassik and then Zach "Randy" Lyons would score on the rebound from Max Selverian. PSU would lead 8-3 at the end of two, out shooting the Huskies 19 to 13. CCAC would strike first in the third period with a power play goal. PSU would respond four minutes later with a power play goal of their own, when captain Mike Ludwig (Tamburi) shot from the point would would beat goaltender Anthony Safi. With the game out of reach, CCAC would make it 9-5 at 7:14. Tamburi (Wilson) would complete the hat-trick with :26 seconds remaining, giving PSU a 10-5 victory. Freshman goalie Steve Gilchrist would turn away 28 of 33 shots. Mike Pilla would win the teams MVP Belt (which Nico Gricco forgot in his apartment). PSU will play Saint Vincent for the third time this season for the CHE Championship on Sunday Night.