The Nittany Lions finally broke the ice in the new Big Ten Hockey Conference, earning their first official league win by shutting out No. 10 Michigan 4-0 at Pegula Ice Arena Saturday. It was the second-year program's first Division-I shutout since Feb. 8, 2013, when it toppled Alabama-Huntsville by the same 4-0 final.
""It feels fantastic," Gadowsky said. "Not just the win itself, but because of the work that we had to put in to get here. It felt good.
"You talk about timely goaltending; those huge saves early gave us a lot of confidence. You really have to give a ton of credit to the [defensemen]. The whole team did a heck of a job."
Sophomore goalie Matt Skoff turned away all 32 shots he faced, stonewalling a pair of Michigan breakaways along the way to keep the visitors off the board.
At the other end of the ice, the Lions did what they could not do Friday in a 7-3 defeat: solve Wolverines' netminder Zach Nagelvoort. He was chased all of 13:17 into the contest, the victim of three State goals in the first period.
The scoring opened with winger Zach Saar's fourth goal of the year after a scramble at the top of the crease. Pegula erupted twice more in over the first 20 minutes as David Glen banked a puck off Nagelvoot's back at the 11:24 mark before Casey Bailey went five-hole with seven minutes left to play in the opening frame to draw backup goalie Steve Racine onto the ice.
"Their goalie played better than our goalie," Michigan head coach Red Berenson said. "That was the game. I thought last night, we got a couple of good bounces. I've always said some nights the puck goes in and some nights it doesn't.
"Tonight, the puck went in for them, and it did not go in for us."
Freshman forward Ricky DeRosa was credited with State's final goal with just over four minutes to play in the third, as he deflected defenseman Dylan Thompson's rip from the point."
"For the coaching staff its makes us feel good about the players buying in to do what we do," Gadowksy said. "That what we do is going to pay off and yield a result like this. It's the buy-in to play like this that gives a lot of confidence in what we're doing in that the personnel we have is able to play that way."
Penn State (5-18-1, 1-9-0) returns to the ice next Friday and Saturday for a pair of skates with Michigan State. The Spartans already own a 3-0 and 3-2 victory over the Lions from mid-January, which means despite finally breaking its conference losing streak, work remains to be done.
It's why winger Saar said moments after the win that PSU is caught in the middle of two emotions.
"Right now, I think I'm still in a little bit of awe," Saar said. "Right now, it's a good first step and you're stuck between not wanting to be too excited and also conducting yourself with an expectation to win more.
"Our week doesn't change," he added. "We're going back to work on Monday just like we would any other time. So, soak it in right now, but we have to get back to work as well."