The game settled into a defensive struggle, with neither team finding paydirt again until the 4:22 mark of the third period, when Penn State forward Brett Wilson pushed a goal past Illini goalie Mike DeGeorge to tie the game at 1-1. The tie lasted less than a minute, however, as Drew Heredia put the Illini back on top at 5:03 off the assist of Jim Rogers and Mike Roesch. Illinois added to its lead at 12:55 as Roesch added a score to put Penn State in a two-goal hole.
Penn State battled back aggressively, and pulled within one at the 14:22 mark when Paul Zodtner connected with his third goal of the season off the feed of Dave Arcobello, and suddenly the defensive struggle of the first two periods was taking on the look of an offensive battle.
Illinois struck once again at 16:12 when Brett Duncan beat Icer goalie Paul Mammolo off the assist from Brian Coleman. Icer head coach Joe Battista pulled Mammolo with 2:22 remaining to add additional firepower, and the move immediately paid off at 18:18 when Michael McMullen found the net off the feed of Kevin Jaeger and Mike Carrano. The Icers would have several final opportunities to tie the game in the final minute, but could not hit the jackpot.
The loss marks the Icers second straight championship game defeat, although Penn State captured some measure of revenge for their 2004 defeat at the hands of Ohio University by knocking off the Bobcats in the semifinals, 3-1. Ohio, entering the tournament as the No. 3 seed finished, third by defeating Rhode Island in the consolation game. The Fighting Illini proved to be the biggest surprise of the tournament, capturing the championship from the No. 4 seed by defeating No. 1 Rhode Island and No. 2 Penn State. Illinois' victory also marks the first time in 10 years that either the Icers or the Bobcats have not left the tournament with the Murdoch Cup.
Penn State opened the tournament on Thursday by defeating West Chester 4-0 to advance to the second round. The Icers next dispatched tournament host Robert Morris College by a 6-2 margin on Friday to advance to the semifinals.
For complete results of the ACHA tournament, courtesy of pennstatehockey.com, please visit our Icers Hockey page at http://pennstate.scout.com/3/IcersHockey.html