The #1 ranked Penn State Icers earned a spot in the semifinals of the ACHA National Championship Tournament by defeating the #9 Oklahoma Sooners 5-3 on Tuesday evening. The Sooners scored two 1st period goals to take a 2-0 lead into the 1st intermission. Penn State responded quickly in the 2nd period with a goal from Bryce Johnson, the often injured transfer who scored his 12th of the season.
Oklahoma answered right back with a goal from Chad Hudson, his second of the day, on a powerplay shot from a difficult angle. PJ Musico didn’t stay home on the near post, and Oklahoma took a 3-1 lead. Penn State responded twice in the final five minutes of the 2nd period, as Michael Longo scored to cut the deficit to one, and Bryce Johnson scored his second to tie the game with under a minute to play in the 2nd.
As the seconds ticked away at the end of the 2nd period, Oklahoma goaltender Nick Holmes became physical with the Icers’ Justin Kirchevel, an altercation that concluded with a headbutt by Holmes to Kirchevel. Holmes was penalized with a 5 minute major for the headbutt and a 10 minute game misconduct. The controversy of the situation ensued at the beginning of the 3rd period when Holmes was forced to serve the penalty in the box, a piece of information that was first communicated to the Oklahoma bench only as the period was about to begin. Into the crease stepped flustered freshman goaltender Colin Fernandes, who was completely cold and even had to put his pads on just moments before entering the game. Fernandes allowed a goal from Tommy Olcyzk in the first minute of the 3rd, and allowed a breakaway goal from Dominic Morrone just 14 seconds later.
With the lead in hand at 5-3 and the game under control, Penn State controlled the possession and clock until Oklahoma was forced to add the extra attacker with approximately 2:30 remaining. After a brief challenge on the 6 on 5 from the Sooners, Michael Longo emerged with a breakaway on the empty net and sealed the game for the Icers.
With the 6-3 win, the #1 Icers will move on to the semifinals of the ACHA National Championship Tournament and will face #13 Oakland on Tuesday evening at either 5PM or 8PM.